|Ipswich Town 4 v 0 Middlesbrough|
Saturday, 2nd February 2013 Kick-off 15:00
Town 4-0 Middlesbrough
Saturday, 2nd Feb 2013 17:04
Tommy Smith scored twice and David McGoldrick and Aaron Mclean netted their first goals for the Blues as Town romped to a 4-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Portman Road. With boss Mick McCarthy missing the game due to illness, Smith headed home the first seven minutes before the break, McGoldrick lashed in the second soon after the restart, Mclean added the third just prior to the hour, before Smith nodded in the fourth late on.
In McCarthy’s absence, his assistant Terry Connor was the man in charge on the sidelines, however, the boss is understood to have picked the team.
Scott Loach kept his place in goal, Lee Martin was out with a hamstring injury and Richard Stearman made his debut at right-back. Aaron Mclean came into the side in place of Martin with Daryl Murphy switching to left midfield.
New loan signing Stephen Henderson and this week’s permanent addition Anthony Wordsworth were on the bench.
Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus’s Boro side included fellow former Blues Kieron Dyer – at left midfield - and Grant Leadbitter – in the centre.
Early on, Guirane N’Daw played through a pass for David McGoldrick to chase, one-time Town target George Friend eventually getting the ball away from the danger area.
On 13, Luke Chambers headed wide after a corner had somehow reached him through a crowd of players.
The Blues were looking the most threatening side and in the 17th minute McGoldrick chased ball down the right and beat Boro keeper Jason Steele to it, the former England U21 having rashly come a long way off his line. Fortunately for the visitors, McGoldrick was at a very tight angle and his cross was blocked by Andre Bikey.
Emmanuel Ledesma shot not too far over for Boro, then skipper Carlos Edwards sent a strike well wide at the other. Not long after, Murphy shot over after a neat interchange involving Edwards and McGoldrick.
Boro didn’t seriously threaten until the 24th minute when Lukas Jutkiewicz’s overhead kick almost reached Ledesma at the far post, but Aaron Cresswell got his head to the ball ahead of the Argentinian.
Stearman sent a dangerous ball across the Teessiders’ box in the 27th minute, having made a strong run forward as Edwards broke, but ahead of the Blues’ strikers.
Town weren’t far from going in front in the 19th minute when McGoldrick and Mclean exchanged passes, giving the on-loan Forest man a clear shot at goal from the edge of the six-yard box, however, Steele spread himself and blocked by Friend. A subsequent McGoldrick effort from a tight angle on the left was cleared to N’Daw on the edge of the area and his strike was deflected over.
The Blues continued to look the more dangerous side in what had been an entertaining half and on 31 Cresswell played a freekick down the left to Murphy, catching the visitors’ defence sleeping, but the Irishman shot into the sidenetting.
But Town’s persistence paid off in the 38th minute when Cresswell sent over a corner from the right and Tommy Smith got ahead of his marker Friend to powerfully head home his third goal of the season at the near post.
Boro had had spells of possession but without particularly threatening, however, shortly before the whistle, they broke after a Town attack and Leadbitter almost found Ledesma, who had made a clever run in behind, and Loach claimed gratefully.
Despite the visitors passing the ball well at times, Loach, who was wearing his pink boots, had been by far the least tested of the two keepers with the Blues creating most of the half’s opportunities.
McGoldrick in particular had been a thorn in the side of the Boro backline throughout, although he will be disappointed not to have opened his Town goals account when put through by Mclean. Smith’s goal was the epitome of a centre-half’s towering header.
Debutant Stearman had been solid at the back and had come forward when able, while for the visitors Dyer had been unable to make much of a mark on the game, all too often finding himself space but with his team-mates failing to spot him.
All in all, there had been plenty to cheer up the unwell and absent Mick McCarthy.
And, after Jutkiewicz had headed into the sidenetting for Boro soon after the restart, the Blues boss will have been even happier when his side increased their lead in the 47th minute.
McGoldrick out-battled Friend midway inside the Boro half, took the ball forward and lashed a 25-yard shot across Steele and into the net for his first goal for his new club, to add to his 17 for Coventry earlier in the campaign.
Soon after, former Town skipper Leadbitter shot low to Loach’s right, but the keeper claimed comfortably.
In the 56th minute it was 3-0. McGoldrick played a ball forward to Mclean on the left, the on-loan Hull man holding off Faris Haroun before cutting in and hitting a shot which deflected off Bikey and past Steele for the one-time Grays Athletic frontman’s first goal for the Blues and his fourth of the season overall.
Town were by now well on top and McGoldrick came close again when Boro failed to clear a corner but scraped his shot over. Soon after, Murphy sent a dangerous ball across the Teessiders’ box but with no one adding the final touch.
Steele blocked Edwards’s 30-yard strike with his chest on 64, Jonathan Woodgate, who moments later made way for Seb Hines, clearing the danger. Two minutes later, Hyam screwed a shot wide.
Frank Nouble took over from Mclean in the 61st minute, the crowd warmly applauding the scorer of the third goal as he left the field.
Skipper Rhys Williams shot wide for Boro in the 72nd minute after a cross from the left had reached him, but the visitors were showing few signs of getting back into the game, although Dyer was by now more and more involved for Tony Mowbray’s side.
Edwards forced Steele into a fine save to his right on 76, debutant Anthony Wordsworth replacing McGoldrick prior to the corner, to a standing ovation.
And from the flagkick, Town made it four. Edwards sent the corner to the far post and Smith powered home his second headed goal of the game, this time at the far post, off the underside of the bar, his fourth of the season.
N’Daw picked up the game’s first booking for a foul on Dyer as the game moved into its last 10 minutes, Bikey having made rather more fuss about the challenge than was warranted. As the game moved into its final four minutes and with rain now falling heavily, Andy Drury took over from Hyam.
Nouble won a couple of freekicks in dangerous areas in the final minutes and Wordsworth shot just over from distance but the scoreline remained at 4-0 when referee Craig Pawson blew his whistle.
Town were well worth their comfortable victory with Boro looking thoroughly out of sorts. Loach was rarely tested at one end, while man of the match McGoldrick, Mclean and latterly Nouble caused the visitors’ defence problems all afternoon.
Smith made the most of virtually non-existent Boro defending at set pieces, notching the first brace of his career, and in the end the Blues might have won by an even greater margin.
The result, Town's biggest win since the 5-1 victory over West Ham a year and two days ago, their first of 2013 and Terry Connor's first as a manager, will no doubt aid boss Mick McCarthy’s recovery from illness.
Town: Loach, Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, Hyam (Drury 86), N'Daw, Murphy, Mclean (Nouble 66), McGoldrick (Wordsworth 77). Unused: Henderson, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Chopra.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Friend, Dyer, Bikey, Woodgate (Hines 65), Williams, Ledesma (McEachran 46), Leadbitter, Haroun, Emnes (Reach 62), Jutkiewicz. Unused: Ripley, Bailey, Carayol, Parnaby. Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire). Att: 16,389 (Boro: 685).
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