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Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Middlesbrough
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 13th April 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 1-1 Middlesbrough - Match Report
Saturday, 13th Apr 2024 17:11

Town returned to the top of the Championship following a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough at Portman Road, but missed out on the chance to go three points clear following the defeats suffered by Leicester and Leeds. Emmanuel Latte Lath put the Teessiders ahead in the 20th minute against the run of play before Massimo Luongo levelled against his old side. Jeremy Sarmiento hit the post soon afterwards but Town were unable to find a winning goal and keeper Vaclav Hladky made two late saves to keep the Blues on terms.

Striker Ali Al-Hamadi was handed his full Town debut as Kieran McKenna made six changes from the team which drew 0-0 at home to Watford on Wednesday.

Al-Hamadi came into the XI for Kieffer Moore, who dropped to the bench, with Luke Woolfenden taking over from the injured George Edmundson at the heart of the defence and Axel Tuanzebe for Harry Clarke, who was absent from the 20-man squad, at right-back.

Luongo took over from Jack Taylor, who was among the subs, in the centre of midfield with Sarmiento and Conor Chaplin coming into the three behind Al-Hamadi for Kayden Jackson and Nathan Broadhead, who were on the bench.

For Boro, Sam Silvera replaced Sam Greenwood in a team otherwise unchanged from the 2-2 draw at Hull City in midweek with former Town defender Matt Clarke at the centre of their defence.

The Blues started brightly, dominating the ball in the early stages and created their first opportunity in the sixth minute. Sarmiento reacted quickly to nip in front of a defender on the left and cut the ball back towards Al-Hamadi, but the ball was turned behind just before it reached the striker.

The Blues went even closer from the resultant corner, Leif Davis sending in a low ball to the near post from where Conor Chaplin shot powerfully but over the bar.

Town threatened again in the 10th minute, Omari Hutchinson, playing on the right of the three behind the striker, feeding Sarmiento, who took it on a few paces before hitting a shot straight at Seny Dieng in the visitors’ goal.

Two minutes later, Sarmiento, who was making a terrific start to the match, twisted and turned his way past defenders on the edge of the area on the left before cutting along the 18-yard line to Chaplin, who rather scuffed his effort wide.

The Teessiders threatened for the first time in the 14th minute, Isaiah Jones breaking away down the left past Hutchinson with Tuanzebe upfield, but his cross-shot was batted away by Hladky in the Town goal and Morsy completed the clearance.

But it was still mainly Town and in the 17th minute Morsy exchanged passes with Sarmiento on the left of the area and although the return was overhit, the Ecuadorian was able to cross deep from the byline. The ball reached Chaplin but the forward was unable to find the target while at a stretch.

However, on 20, the Teessiders went in front. Morsy played back to Hladky following a Middlesbrough attack and the keeper failed to get much distance on the ball. Eventually, it was played wide to Luke Ayling on the right and the former Leeds man sent over a cross towards the far post from where Emmanuel Latte Lath rose between two defenders to nod past Hladky and into the net to the keeper’s left.

After a quiet spell after conceding, Town should have levelled in the 28th minute. Cameron Burgess sent Davis away down the left and the Newcastle-born left-back chopped inside his man before cutting into the middle. Chaplin missed it but it reached Hutchinson on the edge of the area at the back of the box from where the on-loan Chelsea forward curled a shot only just over the bar.

The Blues were getting back into their stride and two minutes later had a strong claim for a penalty when Tuanzebe burst down the right and saw his cross cut out by what the Town players claimed was a Boro hand, and they may have had a case.

However, that controversy was soon forgotten with the Blues getting back on terms from the subsequent corner.

Davis whipped the ball over from the right and Luongo, who joined the Blues in January 2022 after leaving Boro without playing a game in half a season on Teesside, showed far more desire than a visitors defender at the far post to kung-fu kick goalwards, the ball striking the bar, the ground, both the bar and the ground again before hitting the roof of the net to send Portman Road wild.

The Australian’s third goal of the season saw the crowd up the volume in the following minutes and the Blues almost went in front on 32.

Sarmiento was played in down the middle by Chaplin and dinked the ball over the advancing Dieng. The ball was creeping towards goal, just outpacing the retreating Boro defenders but struck the post.

Al-Hamadi was first to the rebound and, with Hutchinson screaming for the ball to be played back to him, the Iraqi international tried a back-heeled effort which was blocked.

With Town still dominating, a long spell of Blues possession ended with Luongo stabbing a 38th-minute effort through to Dieng. Two minutes later, Chaplin seized on a loose Middlesbrough pass in their own half and tried to catch Dieng off his line but was off-target with his effort.

The Blues were, however, susceptible to Boro breaks and in the 44th minute Silvera was sent away in space on the left. The Australian international’s cross struck Burgess - on the arm according to the visitors’ vehement appeals - and fell to Latte Lath, free just beyond the penalty spot, but his shot was just palmed behind by Hladky.

Town had another claim for a spot-kick in the first of two minutes of added-on time, Rav van den Berg sliding in on Chaplin and not appearing to win the ball. However, referee Sam Allison showed no interest.

That, aside from a Boro corner which the Blues defended competently, was the last action of an entertaining but, for Town fans, very nervy first half.

The Blues had started very positively and had had chances to go in front before Boro took the lead against the run of play.

Town had a quieter spell after conceding but had regained their earlier impetus by the time Luongo netted what will have been a very sweet goal, not just in the context of the game but given his history with the Teessiders.

Sarmiento really should have put Town in front with his chance and from there Town had been on top, but while leaving space in behind for Boro, who had looked a danger on the counter-attack all half, to break into.

The Blues will feel they might have been awarded two penalties, the late tackle on Chaplin certainly appeared a good shout, while Boro were similarly adamant they should have had one for the handball not long before the whistle.

Town began the second half where they had left off the first but on 50, after Luongo had picked up the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Jones, Silvera was found on the left of the Blues’ box but blazed his shot from an angle well over.

Two minutes later, Finn Azaz cut in from the right and hit a shot straight down Hladky’s throat.

Almost immediately, Town again went close to going in front. Hutchinson brought the ball forward at pace from halfway and took it past Clarke before cutting in. The Jamaica international seemed set to score but somehow the advancing Dieng turned it over with his foot.

On 57, Boro skipper Jonny Howson joined Luongo in the book for pulling back Sarmiento on the left.

The Teessiders dealt with the set piece, putting it out for a throw and ahead of the restart, Town swapped Al-Hamadi and Sarmiento, both of whom had caused the visitors problems, for Moore and Broadhead.

Town’s subs quickly started to make an impact, as they so often have this season. On 63, Morsy played a ball forward for Broadhead spotting his run and the ex-Everton man back-heeled to fellow Wales international Moore, but just sold him short.

The Blues continued to look for a second goal and on 68 thought they’d created an opportunity, Luongo lifting a ball over the Boro backline for Chaplin, who nodded back to Moore. The on-loan AFC Bournemouth man somehow failed to find the target and may have been pleased to see the linesman’s flag had already been raised for offside against Chaplin. Soon after, the Teessiders switched Silvera for Greenwood.

Town weren’t having it all their own way, however, and in the 71st minute, after the Blues had given the ball away in their own half, Greenwood struck a 20-yard effort which Hladky saved away to his right, Tuanzebe picking up the loose ball and Hutchinson showing his skills to win a throw on the right.

In the 75th minute, Broadhead exchanged passes with Chaplin and brought the ball into the box before finding Hutchinson on the right of the area. The loanee struck a shot across Dieng, who again saved.

Town were by now dominant with Boro pinned back in their half. A minute later, Hutchinson cut in from the right and this time Clarke headed his shot over. Ahead of the flag-kick, Town swapped Luongo for Taylor.

Broadhead shot high and wide in the 79th minute with the Blues prodding and probing and continuing to look for openings.

But a minute later, the visitors came very close to going back in front. After Latte Lath had battled with Woolfenden, the ball was played to Jones to the right of penalty box and the former Tooting & Mitcham United man seemed certain to score but Hladky somehow saved down to his left.

Following the resultant corner, the Czech keeper made an even better save. Ayling crossed from the right, Clarke headed towards goal and Hladky somehow was able to turn it over from under the bar.

Boro were looking increasingly dangerous as Town went looking for the winner and on 83 Greenwood lifted a shot over from 20 yards.

A minute later, Hutchinson shot just over from 25 yards, then on 86 Boro swapped Howson for Dan Barlaser.

Dieng saved Morsy’s low 20-yard shot in the 87th minute with Town camped in the Boro half. Chaplin got to the loose ball first but the Blues couldn’t make anything of the situation.

Town made their final two subs in the 89th minute, Dom Ball and Lewis Travis taking over from Tuanzebe and Chaplin.

As the game moved into five additional minutes, Davis sent over a low ball form the left which a Boro defender diverted back to his keeper with the Sir Bobby Robson Stand ambitiously appealing for a back-pass.

In the second minute of of the five, Boro broke away from a Town corner three against two, although with Hutchinson having been fouled. Ayling was found on the edge of the box but he dallied on the ball and the moment was gone.

Soon after, the one-time Yeovil man was booked for time-wasting at a throw-in and on 95 Travis joined him for a foul.

Moments before the whistle, Town won a free-kick a third of the way inside the Boro half, following which Davis looped a cross into Dieng’s hands.

Town are back to the top after another remarkable weekend in the Championship, but with some frustration at the whistle with the game an opportunity missed following the defeats suffered by Leicester and Leeds.

The Blues were the better side throughout but didn’t create enough clear-cut chances to beat Boro, who in the end would have won but for two excellent Hladky saves.

The result puts the Blues a point clear of the Foxes, who still have a game in hand, and two ahead of Leeds with Town now having two weeks without a match due to Coventry’s involvement in the FA Cup semi-final next weekend.

Before then, the Blues, who have only three games remaining, will be looking for favours from West Brom and Southampton - now only six points behind third-placed Leeds with two games in hand - in their matches against Leicester, and the Teessiders when they take on the Whites.

Town’s next opponents are Hull City at the MKM Stadium at 8pm on Saturday 27th April by which time the league table could look very different.

Town: Hladky, Tuanzebe (Ball 89), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo (Taylor 76), Hutchinson, Chaplin (Travis 89), Sarmiento (Broadhead 59), Al-Hamadi (Moore 59). Unused: Walton, Humphreys, Harness, Jackson.

Middlesbrough: Dieng, Van den Berg, Clarke, Latte Lath, Jones, Ayling, Howson (c) (Barlaser 86), Silvera (Greenwood 69), Azaz, Engel, O’Brien. Unused: Jones, Gilbert, Dijksteel, Bangura, Thomas, McCabe, Finch. Referee: Sam Allison (Wiltshire). Att: 28,771 (Boro: 1,324)

Photo: Matchday Images

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Broadbent23 added 17:14 - Apr 13
BELIEVE. Now the away supporters have to sing their hearts out to get us the vital points we need. More ups and down than Agatha Christie. COYB

TimmyH added 17:17 - Apr 13
Well just my opinion but disappointed on how this week has gone, I feel if we don't make the play-offs we'll look back on this week. Okay great to be top and other posters saying well look how Leeds and Leicester are doing but we should be should be concentrating 100% on what we're doing.

Not easy today and Boro looked the tougher of the 2 home fixtures as proved but we did okay 1st half and again should have been more clinical - Chaplin and Hutch the culprits, we stay top but with 2 tough looking away fixtures coming up I'll be very surprised if we're still there before the Huddersfield final game as our away performances of late have not been good.

TimmyH added 17:18 - Apr 13
sorry 'automatics' that should read...

blueboy1981 added 17:19 - Apr 13
How msny more chances can we get to be Champions of this League - and throw away ??
Crazy - and the fact that both Leicester and Leeds have done likewise - is NO consolation !

carlgibbs13 added 17:19 - Apr 13
2 points from 2 home games isn’t good enough.
Should have been 4 up by half time in both matches.
2 very tough away games incoming and need 4 points from those two at the very least.
I still think we’ll finish top two, but should be well clear by now.

joyousblue added 17:24 - Apr 13
Gods sake were top of the league with 3 games to go southampton play leicester, if coventry beat man utd in fa semi , they will be pulling out of tackles prior to final , moan moan flamin moan , what a season , last season we were league get a flipping grip you moaners

TimmyH added 17:25 - Apr 13
I think we look a better side when Moore isn't starting funny enough...the linking up to him isn't working, Hirst though a big physical player as well is more agile. Anything can happen over the next few weeks but the Hull and Coventry fixtures have not come at a good time.

OliveR16 added 17:25 - Apr 13
Three wins and we're up.

WizardNinja added 17:25 - Apr 13
i mean i think you guys are being a bit negative. obvs not the ideal result but its another point on the board ! the Leeds and Leicester results just show that no one can walk this league.

Suffolkboy added 17:27 - Apr 13
Amazing stats say we still are not clinical enough ,despite creating chances galore — and we end up being thankfully saved by VH who is having the season of his life to date ! Thank goodness for him !
A period of rest and recuperation is bound to be well utilised by KM and Co ,both to revitalise ,refocus and bring that final drive for goals to reality in the very last league games .
( We could do with Moore finding his scoring touch ,and our loanees a maturing belief )

TimmyH added 17:28 - Apr 13
joyousblue - all open to opinions, it's about the here and now not what has happened (though great). We'll see come the end of the season about this week, I'm quite happy to eat humble pie.

Rimsy added 17:28 - Apr 13
We played much better than recently, just couldn't make it count. Shouldn't have taken Al-Hamadi off imo, Moore still looked off the pace.

TimmyH added 17:29 - Apr 13
OliveR16 - believe me mate that's not going to happen, I'll put my mortgage on it.

Bert added 17:41 - Apr 13
Yes we didn’t capitalise on other results but anyone at PR today would have seen an almighty effort from the team. Disappointing not to get all the points but two teams went neck to neck. Anything can happen in this period so still everything to play for. It’s not a matter of throwing away our chances as our negative poster believes, more a matter that we were worthy of three points but we cannot win them all.

chepstowblue added 17:43 - Apr 13
Remarkably its starting to look like Southampton and one other. Another missed opportunity, but had you told me we'd be gaining a point on Leeds and Leicester this weekend I'd have been delighted. Hopefully that stupid calculator machine has exploded by now. Nothing is making sense. Three draws may get it done!

IpswichT62OldBoy added 17:44 - Apr 13
Coventry now on the beach as far as play offs, Hull will be going for it and Huddersfield will be playing for their lives.
Could mean Coventry are relaxed, I am hoping they have a Cup final to play in so very distracted

EssexTractor added 17:47 - Apr 13
We are top, where else would we want to be !
However, Vas was fanatic in last few minutes and ensured that position
The two week break hopefully will enable those who are showing weariness to recuperate for that last big push
It may be that Southampton will play the most important part in the final games, having Leicester and Leeds to play.
Having seen all contenders and even though we doubled them , they do look calm , clever and now in good form since we beat them , and probably the best overall side we have played.
So rest recuperate , listen to KM and onward

Rozeeboy74 added 17:47 - Apr 13
Reminds of the 1992 Championship/Promotion. Limped the last few games

legoman added 17:49 - Apr 13
Although Hutch was an obvious choice I think Vlad should share the position of MOM with him. We should have lost. Thank you so much Vlad.

dangerous30 added 17:51 - Apr 13
We need to take a real look at what we have done so far this season. We are top of the league with 3 games to go so let’s just enjoy it.

cfmoses added 17:55 - Apr 13
Last 2 games. Leicester no goals no points. Leeds no goals 1 point. Town I goal 2 posts and 2 points.Utterly crazy. Burns and Hirst available for the last 3 match week will be a big boost. And come on Town supporters just look at where we fact at the Watford game some supporters said to me to jump up now to the promised land could be a curse. Lots of recruitment will be necessary and those retained will probably double their wages. Is it too risky? I doubt the club imagined we would be here with 3 games to go.

fizzyblue added 17:58 - Apr 13
You cannot question the effort this team is putting in. Frustrating not to get the win…. Yes!! ….. but the effort was there for all to see. Vas MOTM.. on any other day we would have scored 2 or 3 in the first half. COYBs

oldelsworthyfan added 17:59 - Apr 13
With all our player's 'niggles' , for us the two week break could not come at a better time.

londontractorboy57 added 18:00 - Apr 13
Blueboy u melt.hoping the worst happens coyb

Karlosfandangal added 18:01 - Apr 13
Last two games and 2 points…… but Leeds only 1 and Leicester 0

Beginning of season would have took the situation….even if we lose in the play offs it been an incredible season……but if we don’t get automatic it will feel like a disappointment

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