Middlesbrough 2-0 Ipswich Town: Blues end 2018 with defeat at the Riverside
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Ipswich Town were beaten by a goal in either half as the ended 2018 by suffering their 14th defeat of the Championship season at Middlesbrough.
Jordan Hugill netted a first-half penalty, following a foul by Jordan Spence, before Marcus Tavernier scored in the second to end the Blues’ chances of leaving Teesside with so much as a point.
Ipswich played well in patches and created a number of openings but, just as during a bright 30 minutes prior to the first QPR goal on Boxing Day, they were unable to convert any of that promise into goals.
The gap to safety remains at seven points, heading into a crunch New Year’s Day clash with Millwall.
Three changes were on Paul Lambert’s Middlesbrough teamsheet, with Myles Kenlock taking the place of Jonas Knudsen the standout amendment.
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The youngster had some nervy moments early on, as a passage of loose play ended with the defender deflecting a Jonny Howson effort wide of the post.
Both Stewart Downing and Hugill fired over the top as home frustrations grew, while both Luke Chambers needed to make last-ditch clearances to remove danger.
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Ipswich were threatening on occasions, though, with Chalobah forcing the first real save from Darren Randolph as the Irishman scrambled across his goal to claw the Chelsea loanee’s header out.
Then the Blues were punished. Downing stood a ball up to the back post where Jordans Spence and Hugill tangled. A trailing arm around the shoulder of the Boro striker convinced referee Jeremy Simpson to point to the spot. Hugill rolled the ball down the middle of the goal and converted.
To their credit, Ipswich kept playing as the frustrations in the home crowd continued to rumble on, with Sears the next to try his luck after being slipped in by Nolan after Jackson had won the ball back by forcing Aden Flint into a mistake. Randolph saved Sears’ shot, in what was the final action of the first half.
The Blues had their moments in the second but needed to remain vigilant at the back, with Chambers needing to quickly get across to dispossess Wing with a tackle which left the Ipswich captain needing treatment.
Gerken then saved well from Hugill but will not be happy with Middlesbrough’s second goal, as a sweeping move from inside the home half ended with substitute Marcus Tavernier squeezing the ball inside the Ipswich goalkeeper’s post.
Adam Clayton, George Friend and Wing forced further stops from Gerken as time ticked down, before producing the best of the lot from Hugill, with Ipswich offering little threat other than a Jordan Roberts effort which came off his back and flew wide as they left pointless.