Match preview: Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town – Everything you need to know

Bersant Celina nets Ipswich Town's fourth goal in last weekend's 4-2 home win against Nottingham For

Bersant Celina nets Ipswich Town's fourth goal in last weekend's 4-2 home win against Nottingham Forest. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town take on Middlesbrough, in a Championship match, at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is more than happy for his team to be the masters of the clinical counter-attack.

The Blues have often been second-best in terms of possession this season, with Derby and Nottingham Forest having 64% and 71% of the ball respectively last week.

Town won both games though – 1-0 at Pride Park, then 4-2 at Portman Road – proving that the only statistic that really matters is who scores the most goals.

“We’ve had to play that way to be honest with you,” said McCarthy. “We’ve tried to stop every team we’ve played against by pushing up and making them kick it, but at some stage in the game they will get good possession and if you don’t press them together then you get played around.

Captain Luke Chambers will return to the Town team after suspension today. Photo: Steve Waller

Captain Luke Chambers will return to the Town team after suspension today. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller


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“We can’t go and press high up the pitch for 90 minutes every game. There are times you have to retreat and be solid and that’s what we’ve done. Even when we’ve had to defend we’ve still looked a threat at the other end.

• Blues bouyant, Teessiders toiling, clinical counter key – five key talking points head of Middlesbrough v Town

“It has given us rich rewards. I’ve never been that manager who has to have 500 passes. I once said to the players ‘we’ve had too many passes’ and Tabby (Jay Tabb) told the media ‘the manager has told us we pass too much’. That’s not what I meant.

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“It’s about what you do with it. You know who’s had the fewest passes in the league don’t you? Cardiff (who are second). It’s what you do with it and how many times you put the ball in the net.

“(Lots of passing) looks great when it’s working, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat for me. If you can do a bit of both (pass and counter), then great.

“I do think we’ve kept the ball far better this season, despite not having as many passes as the opposition. When we’ve had it, we’ve kept it and we’ve punished teams – which is the main thing.

“Last weekend I think their (Forest’s) two centre-backs had 111 passes more than our two. I didn’t see either of them shooting or crossing though.”

McCarthy admitted he has a big decision to make today, with 10-goal Martyn Waghorn having led the line superbly in the absence of a fit-again Joe Garner.

Striker Joe Garner is available again after missing the last two games with a foot injury. Photo: St

Striker Joe Garner is available again after missing the last two games with a foot injury. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

“He’s done everything that Joe had done in terms of being a physical presence,” said the Blues boss. “If we are playing that one up front at least we know we’ve got two of them who can do it pretty comfortably.”

• Garner or Waghorn leading the line? McCarthy’s tough call at Boro

Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk is facing criticism from fans after losing three of the last four g

Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk is facing criticism from fans after losing three of the last four games. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

OPPOSITION LOWDOWN

Team name: Middlesbrough

Ground: Riverside Stadium (34,000)

Manager: Garry Monk (June ‘12: P23 W10 D5 L8)

Position: 9th (P20 W8 D5 L7 F25 A20)

Home form: P10 W5 D2 L3 F11 A9

Current form: LLWLWWWLLD

Last five finishes: 19th (Premier League), 2nd, 4th, 12th, 16th (all Championship)

Top-scorers: Assombalonga (11), Braitwaite (3)

Most assists: Traore, Christie, Johnson (2)

Biggest win 17/18: 3-0 (h) Scunthorpe (Cup)

Biggest loss 17/18: 3-0 (h) Derby – Nov 25

• ‘Money doesn’t buy team spirit,’ says McCarthy

LAST MEETING

Middlesbrough 0 Ipswich Town 0

Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016

Paul Digby made his full Championship debut and helped kept David Nugent and Jordan Rhodes quiet in a battling goalless draw. Town’s slim hopes of securing a second successive play-off finish were mathematically ended. The Blues had lost the reverse fixture 2-0.

STAT ATTACK

• Town’s last win at Middlesbrough was in 2010 (3-1). Since then it’s been: P5 D2 L3 F1 A8

• Only three teams have scored more away goals in the Championship than Town (15)

• Only four teams have scored fewer at home in the Championship than Boro (11)

TEAM NEWS

Ipswich Town team news

• Striker Joe Garner is available again after missing the wins against Derby and Forest with a foot injury. Martyn Waghorn has led the line superbly in his absence, leaving Mick McCarthy to admit he has a big decision to make regarding the make-up of his front four. • Captain Luke Chambers will go straight back into the team after serving a one-game suspension. Dominic Iorfa is likely to drop out, with Jordan Spence returning to right-back. • David McGoldrick (cut groin) is pencilled in for a return to action in next Saturday’s home game against Reading. • Tom Adeyemi (hamstring) and Tommy Smith (calf) are also close to being available again. • Luke Hyam and Andre Dozzell (both knee) remain long-term absentees.

Middlesbrough team news

• Daniel Ayala is available again following suspension. • Manager Garry Monk has a fully-fit squad to select from. He could make wholesale changes following last weekend’s limp 2-1 defeat at Bristol City.

• The likes of Patrick Bamford, Rudy Gestede, Ryan Shotton, Lewis Baker and Ashley Fletcher have found game time hard to come by of late.

KEY OPPOSITION MAN

Britt Assombalonga The £15m summer signing from Nottingham Forest has already scored 11 goals – that’s almost half of Boro’s league total. Scored four times against Town last season.

BETTING

Middlesbrough 8/11 Draw 37/13 Ipswich Town 24/5

REFEREE

Robert Jones (Merseyside) Games: 22, Yellows: 54, Reds: 5 • Only his fourth Championship game.

STU’S PREDICTION

Middlesbrough 0 Ipswich Town 1

Boro pass but lack penetration. Set up nicely for Town’s counter.

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