MATCH COMMENT: The 250-mile trip back to Suffolk will have seemed like a lifetime for Ipswich Town fans

Middlesborough fans celebrate their team's first goal in more than 12 hours of play while Dean Gerke

Middlesborough fans celebrate their team's first goal in more than 12 hours of play while Dean Gerken is left contemplating his mistake. PHOTO: PAGEPIX LTD - Credit: Archant

Middlesbrough v Ipswich: Middlesbrough put a sizeable dent in Ipswich Town’s top six hopes with a comfortable 2-0 win at the Riverside on Saturday. STUART WATSON looks back on the game.

OVERVIEW

Middlesbrough put a sizeable dent in Ipswich Town’s top six hopes with a comfortable 2-0 win at the Riverside on Saturday.

Danny Graham pounced after Dean Gerken spilled a shot in the 29th minute and was then left unmarked to head home a Grant Leadbitter corner in first-half stoppage-time.

Boro certainly didn’t play like a side that had gone more than 12 hours without scoring a goal, the pace of Mustapha Carayol and trickery of Lee Tomlin proving too hot to handle.

Ipswich, by contrast, were bereft of ideas and only forced debutant keeper Dimitri Konstantopoulos into a noteworthy save, seconds before the final whistle.

Mick McCarthy’s men remain ninth in the Championship table and four points adrift of sixth-spot thanks to the 1-1 draw between Reading and Brighton.

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Wigan (seventh) and Brighton (eighth) have games in hand to come though. Indeed, failure to win at third-bottom Yeovil tomorrow night could see the Blues looking over their shoulders with 15th place Bournemouth just six points behind them.

COMMENT

The 250-mile journey back to Suffolk will have seemed like a lifetime for Ipswich Town fans who endured Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough.

Those of them who are also making the similar length trip to the opposite corner of the country tomorrow (around 1,000 expected at Yeovil) will be questioning their own sanity.

A series of second-half instances summed up what Mick McCarthy, rather understatedly, described as a ‘bad day at the office’.

Paul Taylor petulantly lashed the ball into row z after inadvertently controlling the ball with his arm, then Aaron Cresswell was nowhere near with a highly ambitious 30-yard free-kick attempt that showed just how short of chances the visitors had been.

There were ironic cheers when Daryl Murphy’s tame shot on the turn rolled through to keeper Dimitri Konstanstoplolus in the 66th minute. It was the visiting side’s first shot on target of the match. Indeed, Boro’s journeyman Greek keeper – making his first start for the club – should have been charged an entrance fee such was his level of inactivity.

When the ‘oles’ started among the home fans, Christophe Berra went steaming into a meaty tackle borne out of sheer frustration. The Scotsman – who had travelled to Poland and back to be an unused substitute in an international friendly – ended up coming off worse in the challenge and spent the next few minutes limping.

Berra did force a smart save out of Konstanstopoulos in stoppage-time when getting his head on substitute Jonny Williams’ clever chipped cross. He ended up crashing into the stanchion and the whistle blew to put Town out of their misery.

The damage had been done in the first half during which the Blues’ major Achilles heel – pace – was once again exposed.

Left-winger Mustapha Carayol – back off the naughty step having been left out of the previous two squads for what manager Karanka described as ‘a bad attitude’ – glided past players at will, while Lee Tomlin’s trickery was proving equally too hot to handle.

Instead of giving themselves a few extra yards, Town’s defenders went hunting for the ball high up the pitch. Tommy Smith got away with it when Carayol’s direct run and shot was deflected wide, but Luke Chambers wasn’t so lucky just before the hour.

It was a bad piece of defending, but an equally poor piece of goalkeeping as Dean Gerken parried a low shot straight into the path on the on-running Graham for a tap-in. It was an almost carbon-copy of the mistake he made for Gary O’Neil’s goal for QPR at Portman Road back in January.

You could sense the relief around a sparse Riverside crowd, that Boro’s goal drought ended at 12 hours and 14 minutes. They pushed for a second and it arrived in first-half stoppage-time when an unmarked Graham met Grant Leadbitter’s corner at the near post, sending a perfectly-placed glancing header into the far corner of the net.

Then followed that frustrating second period, a lengthy talking to from manager Mick McCarthy afterwards and a subdued four-hour coach journey home.

RATINGS

MIDDLESBROUGH

13 Dimi Konstantopoulos

Virtual spectator 6

8 Jozsef Varga

Comfortable afternoon 6

25 Kenneth Omeruo

Did what he had to 6

22 Ben Gibson

Got stuck in 7

3 George Friend

Real attacking threat 8

7 Grant Leadbitter (cpt)

Kept things simple 7

24 Nathaniel Chalobah

Reads the game superbly 7

11 Emmanuel Ledesma

Great movement 7

10 Lee Tomlin

Tricky customer 8

19 Mustapha Carayol

Gave Chambers a torrid time 9

9 Danny Graham

Poacher’s finish, fine header 8

Substitutes

1 Jason Steele (unused)

14 Luke Williams (unused)

28 Bryn Morris (unused)

36 David Atkinson (unused)

6 Jacob Butterfield (for Tomlin 77)

23 Curtis Main (for Carayol 81)

29 Kai Kamara (for Graham 71)

IPSWICH TOWN

22 Dean Gerken

Error for opener 5

4 Luke Chambers (cpt)

Destroyed by Carayol’s pace 4

6 Christophe Berra

Showed fight 6

5 Tommy Smith

Out of position too often 5

3 Aaron Cresswell

Really plateaued of late 5

16 Paul Green

Gave ball away cheaply 5

8 Cole Skuse

No real influence 5

18 Jay Tabb

Game passed him by 5

35 Frank Nouble

Worked hard, did more than most 6

26 Paul Taylor

Always wanted ball, little came off 6

9 Daryl Murphy

Look jaded by midweek trip 5

Substitutes

1 Scott Loach (unused)

15 Tyrone Mings (unused)

19 Luke Hyam 5 (for Nouble 46)

11 Paul Anderson (unused)

12 Stephen Hunt (unused)

25 Jonny Williams 6 (for Tabb 71)

27 S Ebanks-Blake 6 (for Taylor 69)

STATS

BORO

Bookings: Ledesma (70)

Sending off: None

Shots on target 3

Shots off target 11

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 10

Fouls 14

IPSWICH

Bookings: Hyam (52), Chambers (71)

Sendings off: None

Shots on target 2

Shots off target 6

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 4

Fouls 8

TOWN MAN-OF-THE-MATCH

Frank Nouble

Few covered themselves in glory, but Nouble can feel hard done by to be the player that was taken off at half-time.

The front man did his fair share of defending, won plenty of headers and faced a thankless task as several balls were lumped towards the corners.

QUOTES

Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager

“(We were) second best; got nowt, deserved nowt.

“As you can imagine it was pretty sombre and not very buoyant in the dressing room after that. It was disappointment as much as anything at the way we played.

“We didn’t compete, not like we normally do.

“It’s a bad day in the office. You can ask me to put meat on the bones of that but I think it sums it up.”

Aitor Karanka, Middlesbrough manager

“I was happy for Danny (Graham). After the goal he demonstrated he is a very good Premier League player.

“Finally the goals arrived and I’m very happy. Firstly, our supporters deserved to see us scoring goals and winning and secondly it’s great for my team to reward their hard work.

“But I was never worried. I always believed 100 per cent in myself and in the team and I know that when we work hard and play like that we can beat anybody.”

TWITTER TALK

“Far too many errors in Dean Gerken’s game that have cost us goals this season. Very bad day at the office. #ITFC”

– @DaleJayLove

“Dreadful game yesterday. Chambers’ shortcomings at right-back were completely exposed by Boro’s left-side partnership. #itfc”

– @ManOfSteel_ITFC

“Four points off the play-offs. Love to think we could get there but seriously don’t think we can do it. But we have done so well! #itfc”

– @Rhys_ITFC

“Tabb, Hyam, Green and Skuse all playing at the same time, genuinely have no idea how we didn’t score with such an attacking threat #itfc”

– @Bartram1

“Don’t know why #itfc fans think it’s all over. Put a run together, starting with Yeovil, and who knows? We have done brilliantly this season.”

– @DMF0408

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