RELENTLESS IPSWICH SEE OFF BORO

A goal in each half earned Ipswich a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough to keep Kieran McKenna's side on the tails of leaders Leicester.

The Tractor Boys impressed at the Riverside even though goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky had to make a few good second-half saves to prevent Boro from scoring.

Conor Chaplin's eighth of the season nine minutes before half-time was followed by substitute Omari Hutchinson's fine finish in the 67th minute to seal the points for McKenna's side.

The third win in a row keeps Ipswich a point behind Leicester at the top of the table, while Middlesbrough sit 12th and three points behind sixth place after a third defeat in four games.

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Despite a decent atmosphere inside the Riverside, the game took a while to burst into life.

Neither side created anything in the opening exchanges, with the visitors making inroads as an attacking force first.

Ipswich were also first to hit the target. Middlesbrough goalkeeper Seny Dieng was in the right place to hold a deflected effort from George Hirst after good work from Nathan Broadhead.

And Broadhead, who spent time in the North East at Sunderland last season, went close when his 20-yard strike took a deflection before dropping just the wrong side of the crossbar after half an hour.

Ipswich got the breakthrough they deserved six minutes later. Chaplin's half-volley, which shaved the head of Matt Clarke before finding the net, was the result of Jonny Howson's failure to deal properly with Wes Burns' ball into the area.

Defender Clarke, who was making his first start in more than a year because of a problematic back injury, could not have done much about it.

It was only then when Middlesbrough, who had eight first-team players ruled out, started to look more threatening.

Striker Emmanuel Latte Lath, the liveliest man in a red shirt in the final third, side-footed wide from 18 yards after his direct run through the heart of the Ipswich defence created something from nothing.

That was the closest Middlesbrough came to scoring before the break.

After the restart Matt Crooks earned a corner 10 minutes in when a passage of play ended with his shot being blocked by Cameron Burgess when it looked like it could test goalkeeper Hladky.

In fact the best save Hladky had to make up to that point was when he turned over Dan Barlaser's corner on the hour that was curling straight in.

And the Czech Republic man was alert again five minutes later to dive left and prevent Latte Lath from finding the net with a header.

Those stops paved the way for Ipswich to add the second. This time Chaplin turned provider with a pass in behind the defence.

And with Middlesbrough full-back Lukas Engel caught deep, Hutchinson was played onside. When faced with just Dieng to beat he picked his spot brilliantly, low to the left with 23 minutes remaining.

Engel's cross a few minutes later almost made amends when it was deflected goalwards by the head of Ipswich's excellent defender Luke Woolfenden. Again, though, Hladky was there to save well.

The managers

Middlesbrough's Michael Carrick:

"I'm disappointed obviously. We knew coming into this that they are a good team. We had to be at our best to get a result. We were a little short on a number of things, we were not quite firing.

"Second half we were better in terms of pressing, regains, and I fancied us to get back into it and then the second goal came. We did try to press and left some space, that was the way we went in the second half. That was their second shot on target.

"I feel for the boys in there because of the effort, they just lacked the fine edge, the quality in the bigger moments.

"Both boxes are what makes the difference, everything in between gives you a chance. We just didn't quite have that little bit extra."

Ipswich's Kieran McKenna:

"This was a really complete performance, especially for an away game. We controlled most elements of the game, high and low, out of possession and in possession.

"The only thing I think we could have done better was we should have created cleaner chances. First half we should have done that with the moments we had.

"We were good value for the first goal. The second goal was very important. Defensively we felt in control, but at 1-0 anything can happen. It was a big goal and I am delighted for Omari.

"That was a good team goal. The execution of the finish for a young player was good too. It was a nice combination and a nice finish.

"There was also a really good performance for the keeper. His composure on the ball helps our build-up in the first phase and he made some big saves. He was there when we needed him."

2023-12-09T18:10:21Z dg43tfdfdgfd