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Middlesbrough 4-1 Town - Match Report
Saturday, 14th Mar 2015 14:32

Town’s hopes of winning automatic promotion would appear to hang by a thread after they were defeated 4-1 at Middlesbrough. Boro went in front through Daniel Ayala in the fourth minute in an incident which saw Blues keeper Dean Gerken stretchered off, Daryl Murphy equalised with his 23rd goal of the season on 11 and Albert Adomah restored the Teessiders’ lead on the half hour, before Patrick Bamford sealed the victory after the break with goals on 64 and 79.

Teddy Bishop replaced Richard Chaplow in an otherwise unchanged Town side with the on-loan Millwall man dropping to the bench.

Bishop started in the centre of midfield with Jay Tabb moving to the left and Jonny Parr to the right.

Gerken, whose wife gave birth yesterday, continued in goal with Bartosz Bialkowski on the bench with Paddy Kenny also having made the trip.

Kevin Bru was back on amongst the subs after his knee injury, while Stephen Hunt travelled having recovered from his hamstring problem but was not in the 18. David McGoldrick remained in Suffolk but is likely to be in the squad for the home game against Bolton on Tuesday.

Boro were the first to threaten in the third minute when Daniel Ayala chipped a quick freekick behind the Blues’ backline to Adam Reach, but skipper Luke Chambers did superbly to get back to stab the ball away from the midfielder. Referee Mike Jones waved away Boro claims for a penalty.

But from the resultant corner on the left, the home side went in front. The flag-kick was played short to Adam Clayton, who sent the ball over and former Norwich man Ayala headed home.

As Ayala scored, Blues keeper Gerken clashed heads with George Friend and Christophe Berra and required seven minutes of treatment on the pitch before eventually being carried off on a stretcher with his neck in his brace while being administered oxygen. Bartosz Bialkowski took over in goal.

Before Gerken had made it to the tunnel, the Blues were on terms. Tyrone Mings’s header found Parr midway inside the Boro half and the Norwegian turned and brought the ball forward before hitting a powerful shot to Dimi Konstantopoulos’s left.

The keeper got across to save but parried the ball back towards the centre of his goal, from where Murphy stabbed his 23rd goal of the season into the roof of the net.

It had been a remarkable start to the game with Town’s goal having come only 26 seconds of actual playing time after Boro’s.

The Blues were a whisker from going in front in the 21st minute when Tabb cut the ball back from the left and it fell to Murphy, who hit a powerful strike on the turn which struck Freddie Sears before trickling onto the post and into Konstantopoulos’s arms.

After Jonathan Woodgate had replaced goalscorer Ayala - who had been a pre-match doubt with a thigh injury - Cole Skuse smashed a low shot which was deflected wide. From Tabb’s left-sided corner, Murphy headed over.

Tommy Smith picked up the game’s first booking for a foul on Tomas Kalas in the 28th minute, Chambers heading clear former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter’s lofted freekick.

But two minutes later the home side were back in front. After a well-worked corner on the left, the ball eventually found Adomah on the edge of the box and, as Mings sought to close him down, the Ghanaian international hit a low strike which caught Berra on its way past Bialkowski and into the net.

Bishop’s 33rd minute strike was claimed comfortably by Konstantopoulos, then three minutes later Murphy headed another Tabb corner from the left over the bar.

Town threatened again on 39 from another Tabb left-sided flag-kick. After Mings had failed to get enough on his header, Berra returned the ball from the right and Sears’s hooked effort was blocked.

As the half moved into its final five minutes Adomah shot over from the Boro left, then Bishop screwed an effort wide from the edge of the area after another Blues corner, again on the left.

Town continued to look the more threatening side. With a minute of scheduled first-half time remaining Bishop skipped across the Boro area but saw his effort snuffed out, then Sears following up had his strike blocked.

As the half moved into eight minutes of injury time Bishop was shown his first senior yellow card for catching Friend as they challenged for an aerial ball.

The second of two Bishop corners from the right culminated in Berra’s over-head kick running through to Konstantopoulos, then Patrick Bamford claimed a penalty when challenged by Berra but referee Jones waved away his lengthy protests. Replays suggested the on-loan Chelsea man had a good case.

Just before the whistle finally came, Adomah hit a shot on the turn which was blocked by Mings.

On the balance of the half Town shouldn’t have been behind having been on top for the most part. However, after failing to defend Boro’s only two corners, they could hardly complain about the scoreline.

Having gone behind to Ayala’s goal and lost Gerken to his injury, the Blues reacted well, although Konstantopoulos will feel he ought to have done better with Parr’s shot which led to Murphy’s goal.

After conceding the second goal, the Blues had looked the more likely scorers, although without creating any clear-cut opportunities.

The Blues started the second half on the front, Mings over-hitting an early cross from the left beyond Murphy.

There was a scare for the Blues in the 53rd minute when Reach almost profited from a moment of hesitation between Bialkowski and Chambers but the Boro man was adjudged to have used his hand and his shot had in any case been blocked.

Middlesbrough centre-half Ben Gibson was booked for pulling back Murphy as the Town scorer turned and took the ball away from him in the 55th minute. Sears curled the resultant 25-yard freekick well wide.

The first quarter of an hour had been much the same as the end of the first period with the Blues on top but without creating anything significant, however, on 64 the home side increased their lead.

After a Town ball forward had been cleared and hooked on by Leadbitter, Jelle Vossen deftly sent Bamford away behind the Blues’ backline. The England U21 kept his cool and dummied his way past Bialkowski before tapping the ball into the net.

After Boro had switched Adam Forshaw for Vossen, Chris Wood took over from Tabb for the Blues.

On 73 Reach was booked for a late tackle on Bishop, then two minutes later Clayton hit an effort from distance which flew over.

Bishop played a shot corner on the right to Parr on 78 but the Norwegian’s shot was blocked.

With 11 minutes left on the clock Boro’s fourth goal sealed the result. Bamford dummied a long ball and broke away from Smith before hitting a low shot across Bialkowski and into the net to make it 4-1.

Town were by now looking shellshocked and Adomah wasn’t far from making it 5-1 with a shot from the left which flew wide. At the other end, Murphy cut the ball back to Sears from the right but the former Colchester man diverted it against a defender and behind.

Bamford should have made it five and completed his hat-trick in the 86th minute when Adomah brought the ball forward from halfway and fed him to his left, but the Chelsea loanee shot over.

Luke Varney, who had replaced Bishop for the final six minutes, headed wide from Murphy’s cross from the right, then at the other end Boro sub Forshaw ought to have done better with an Adomah cross, but headed well wide.

As the match moved into three minutes of additional time, Bamford smashed high and wide. Not long afterwards referee Jones put the Blues out of their misery.

Despite the eventual scoreline, the Blues had been in the game up until the hour mark having had a fair amount of the ball, albeit without creating anything which would have tested Konstantopoulos. Town failed to seriously threaten from their 13 corners while Boro scored their first two goals from their total of three.

Bamford’s first goal all but settled the game, the fourth added some gloss and in the end the home side might have won by even more having had plenty of chances in the final minutes with the Blues looking uncharacteristically dishevelled.

It was little consolation that Murphy, who was watched by Ireland assistant manager and former Blues boss Roy Keane, became the first Town player to score more than 22 league goals in a season since Ray Crawford in 1962/63.

The Blues are now eight points behind Boro, who move to the top, with the rest of the challengers in action later this afternoon. Town’s chances of returning to the Premier League after a 13-year absence would now appear to be reliant on winning the play-offs.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Kalas, Ayala (Woodgate 24), Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter (Nsue 88) (c), Clayton, Adomah, Reach, Bamford, Vossen (Forshaw 68). Unused: Ripley, Whitehead, Tomlin, Kike.

Town: Gerken (Bialkowski 10), Chambers (c), Mings, Smith, Berra, Skuse, Bishop (Varney 84), Parr, Tabb (Wood 69), Murphy, Sears. Unused: Clarke, Anderson, Chaplow, Bru. Referee: Mike Jones (Chester). Attendance: 18,909 (Town: 444).

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bluefeast added 14:36 - Mar 14
Tommy Smith has been weak since January , the vast majority of fans would like to see Chambers in his place with Parr at right back. The manager is totally to blame for not changing things. His loyalty to players such as Smith and Tabb show just how one dimensional his thinking is. Our form has been better in 2015 than one side and thats blackpool ,that says everything you wish to know over the mis management of our club since the end of December. When we need to not get beaten look what happens on every single occasion. Pathetic im afraid to say and if Smith starts against Bolton then i fear he will be booed by the crowd for that game , which would be a shame. Talk about blow your chances. Incredible to think we will be the only side in the top 2 at christmas not to even make the play offs ,our form points to a serious problem ,yet we continue to do the same things. So annoyed and frustrated.

irishtim added 14:36 - Mar 14
Watched the Game. We are not good enough. But to be fair we had more of the play at times. We should reflect on progress. Our day will come. I still think if we make the playoffs we will win the thing.

Scribble added 14:38 - Mar 14
At 3-1 everybody have up and it could of been 6 or 7, I think we can consider this season over, even if we do sneak in the play offs can you really see 1 team in there that we could beat let alone 2.

Mings looked so half arsed today, his performances sum up our season, started out brilliant with so much optimism and end flat and unconvincing.

kevtblue added 14:39 - Mar 14
Can't understand why mm has persisted with a defence that has conceded goals for fun for weeks! Tommy needs a rest and get the players in their correct positions only good points today was Teddy and Murphy very disappointing but let's keep supporting the boys. CYOB.

tim added 14:39 - Mar 14
I hate my life.

bluefeast added 14:40 - Mar 14
The above match report is typical of of the tip toe media that deals with this club and MM.Frankly tell the truth and say that the tactics were ridiculous ,signings wood and varney offer nothing to the team at all ,in fact the difference in class between wood and murphy is huge so why did we sign him ,why sign varney ,our slide started in January yet the dross gets served week in week out and we are failing ,please media go for MMs throat and make him wake up to the very basics like square pegs round holes etc etc.....

ShropshireBluenago09 added 14:40 - Mar 14
We started well and were the better team for much of the game, but our defending is poor ATM, compared to earlier in the season. Mings looks 1/2 the player he was and needs droping along with Smith. As Ip5wich said above 3-5-2 would have been better than hoof ball to 4 strikers. As soon as we went hung ho, it was game over. Still time though.

theman added 14:41 - Mar 14
My biggest issue with us at the moment is that when we go behind we don't change our game plan. The only thing Mick ever does is throw on another striker which just encourages us to play even more long balls. When sides are coping with these (as Middlesborough did today particularly in the second half) we need to try something else. Even something as simply as moving Parr to right back would allow us to change things up a bit and let us give opponents something different to think about.

BlueandTruesince82 added 14:41 - Mar 14
A failure to make playoffs would be a huge disappointment. If this loss of firm persits even I will be questioning if Mick has taken us as far as he can. Agree Smith needs taking out of the firing line.


Come on you Rams!

cromwellblue added 14:42 - Mar 14
While the over reaction goes on I remind everyone "Form is temporary, class is permanent"

We were in excellent form for the first half of the season, but when it comes to it we lack a bit of class. This should not really be a surprise to anyone.

First half today was a solid performance. Let down by sloppy defending at the corners. But credit to Boro for having the intelligence to not throw balls in to the area where we had the advantage.

2nd half we faded and were beaten by the better quality.

It's all now about the play off's but be honest at the start of the season this was your expectation anyway.

OldClactonBlue added 14:43 - Mar 14
Massive irony. A team that concentrates so much on defence is undone by defensive failures. At the end of the day the way you play, week in, week out, is what you are. Another season conning the paying supporters!

markyh added 14:43 - Mar 14
Totally convince mm never wanted to go up this year, why play the same players and formation when you normally lose. should have got quality in, in jan
Wouldn't say varney is the same qualiry as tom Ince

unknown100 added 14:43 - Mar 14
It's a shamd because we played well but to have such a good first half go in 2-1 down shows the difference,
Think there is a good enoughg team but weak links break the passage of play, bishop was superb, midfield needs to be built around him next season he made skuse and parr want to play football. Not convinced by smith at centre back and we need to play a full back right back rather than chambers. Tabb is the worst footballer I've ever seen in my life am gutted he is a mccarthy favourite because he is awful
If next year we can either play parr full back or get another, chose between smith/chambers and spend a bit of money on some wingers we will be golden but sorry not this year and probably a good thing as we don't deserve it and if we did... It would be embarrassing

Sergio added 14:43 - Mar 14
Four wins in thirteen league games this year and the word promotion is still being mentioned!! Get real!

edyn15 added 14:46 - Mar 14
Mick bringing on Varney with 4 minutes left when we are 4-1 down, a little late? Even when me went 3-1 down, we looked clueless. No creativity in midfield and we play too defensive, that was embarrassing

jas0999 added 14:46 - Mar 14
Unacceptable result. To lose a big game 4-1 shows how far we have fallen since early January. Worryingly, Boro didn't play that well, but still had too much quality, pace and goal scoring ability than us. Okay, first half performance was good, but you simply can't defend like that. Do we have a good enough keeper? Has Smith had his day? Is the balance right?

The midfield were not terrible, but again they don't look capable of scoring a also lacks pace and at times the necessary quality and creativity. It worries me that we play a right back in midfield ... What does that say about the overall quality of the midfield at the club? Tabb and Skuse wouldn't get into many other top 12 Championship clubs teams.

If we take away Murphys goals, there is little else there. Our rivals score from all over the field. They have pace, quality and goals. We don't. I keep saying it and will continue to do so, but in January we had an opportunity to bring some quality into this hard working but limited squad. The current top 6 gambled and strengthened. Our strategy was flawed and now we are paying the price.

Automatic promotion gone and on current form play offs looking less likely as our hopes fade. I'm afraid I can't see many positives from a 4-1 thumping. Disappointing.

EssexTractor added 14:47 - Mar 14
First of all it is very unlikely that we will have had as much possession and " apparent" goal attempts away from home as today. Secondly for all their terrific home form this season Brough can hardly if ever have had to do so little to win by such a margin.
But that's football, it's about scoring GOALS. And sadly how many real chances did we create, how many saves were forced out of their keeper. Yet when presented with meagre opportunities the home side exposed our defensive frailties so easily. Our back four individually and as a unit were woeful defensively and in distribution. So sad. So disappointing.Bishop started well and showed classy touches but he needs a really really experienced classy midfielder alongside him to help him through. Parr had energy, some skill and tried to the end. But Murphy and Sears had no service particularly after the break. Our substitutes are in a word, laughable!
Our £15 million full back, what has happened to him. He now seems constantly in two minds when he receives the ball and neither of them are in gear!
None of us want to slag off " our team " and whatever our opinions are, however downhearted we will be there for Bolton on Tuesday but I fear that we may have come as far as current management can take us. ( or ownership will allow! )
We would hope that there are a few more memorable moments this season but realistically we are a world away from Membership of the Premier League.

paulthebluealien added 14:47 - Mar 14
I'm not one for condemning and tearing into the team. I never have and never want to be.

However, today's game has left me feeling infuriated and miserable. Maybe, it's the hangover - but moreover it is the second half display.

The first half was not particularly bad, but the warning signs were there. Missed chances and atrocious defensive mistakes cost us and in the second half we were just carved open by our gung-ho approach in the end.

Very disappointed. I don't want to jump on the Tommy Smith bandwagon of hate but I do believe he needs to be dropped and Chambers placed back into the centre of defence. Watching Adomah against Chambers at times was painful. Parr and Bishop played well again today, mind you.

Just a last thought, on my twitter I'm trying to enforce the club to refund the 444 Ipswich fans who travelled. A bit over the top? No. They would have woken up before 4am and travelled 250+ miles there and back to watch a gutless second half like that. Refunding them is the only decent thing to do.

Blandford added 14:50 - Mar 14
Fact - with nine games left we are thirty points clear of the drop zone and still in with a chance of making the play-offs. However I believe there is a thin line between stubbornness and stupidity and if MM allows Tommy Smith anywhere near another match day squad that line will have been crossed. Please, please, please can we play our best players in their best positions before its too late.

heady added 14:51 - Mar 14
Please Mick, if Mcgoldrick is fit play this team!!!


Parr Chambers Berra Mings
Bish Bru
Sears Murph

WestNorfolk_Blue added 14:52 - Mar 14
I agree we were the better side in the first half but even then looked short up front and the defence had my ar*e squirming. Have said it before Smith has got to be dropped as an absolute liability at the moment, his confidence must be shot and wont get better by confirming week in week out. Mings never turned up and was outdone over and over. So disapointed but still think the lack of ambition in the January transfer window is to blame. Every team knows how we are likely to play now and as soon as they get settled into a game we never look like wining. Still hopefull but in truth i still fancy winning the lottery which says it all.

jimblue93 added 14:53 - Mar 14
Feel sorry for anybody who made the trip today, they deserve better,
I know its a negative view but I think avoiding the playoffs may be a blessing if we're just going to get hammered like today .

Orraman added 14:53 - Mar 14
I think that we should be eternally grateful to MM for saving us from relegation to Division 1 and for stabilising the club during the past 2 seasons, but surely the time has come, whether we scrape into the play offs or not, for the parting of the ways. His persistence in refusing to drop his favourites, his unbelievable stubbornness and his total lack of tactical awareness in the modern game will never allow us to progress.
We have the basis of a good squad but now need someone to bring some attack minded thinking to the table and to bring some flair to the proceedings. MM is certainly a quality Championship manager who will stabilise any Championship team but can anyone really see the current squad making significant progress next season. I'm hoping that he might be tempted by the vacancy at his local team, Millwall. A former club and just round the corner from home, this would surely suit both parties. Thanks Mick, you have done what you believe to have been your best but it has just not been good enough at the sharp end of the season.

itfc1981 added 14:53 - Mar 14
Tommy Smith.

Insert Danny Baker DVD here

dagenhamtown added 14:53 - Mar 14
Another shocking show on TV not one shot of any note second half.smith woeful Tabb usual say no more.

Mr Evans u have to take blame your lack of ambition when we needed it with quality has taken its toll other chairman have spent while u remain in the scrooge department.

If we don't get to play offs hold your head in shame.

On another note looking at game let's be fair we are a million miles away from premier standard an average side at best a gutted town fan.

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