Reaction: McCarthy can’t help but respect Ipswich Town nemesis David Nugent

Hows that: David Nugent celebrates his goal in the Ipswich Town v Middlesbrough (Championship) match

Hows that: David Nugent celebrates his goal in the Ipswich Town v Middlesbrough (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 04 December 2015. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy said he can’t help but have respect for David Nugent after the striker kept up his remarkable scoring record against the Blues tonight.

The Liverpudlian striker netted Middlesbrough’s second in a 2-0 win at Portman Road to make it 15 goals in 14 club games versus Ipswich. Remarkably, he has scored on all eight of his appearances at the Suffolk ground – including a match for England’s Under-21s.

Having shrugged his shoulders as way of a celebration, the pantomime villain joked in his television interview afterwards that he wished he could play Ipswich every week.

“He never had a kick up until then, but that’s the sign of a good centre-forward,” said McCarthy. “It was a great quality goal on the break. Stewart Downing picks him out and he takes it. I can admire that and respect that. It was a top class finish.”

The Blues boss went on to say that he saw enough to convince him that his team can match the Championship’s forerunners over the Christmas period, with games against the likes of Derby and Burnley on the horizon.

The home team arguably shaded the first half, but some poor defending led to Christian Stuani’s 54th minute opener and Boro went on to dominate before and after Nugent’s customary strike.

Composed and organised, the Teesiders, temporarily at least, move top of the Championship table. Town’s record against fellow top half sides now reads nine points from nine and they have claimed as many points on their travels as they have at Portman Road this season.

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“I thought it was two good teams in the first half having a right good go at it and we probably edged it slightly and I thought we started second half well too.

“I’d said to them at half-time it was whoever blinked first and let their guard down and we did that unfortunately.

“We really shouldn’t have been in any danger following that clearance from the keeper, we messed that up and we didn’t defend the far post well enough. If we’d have scored it I’d have been saying it was a good goal, but the way we dealt with it wasn’t good enough.

“That, of course, changed the course of the game. They have a very good defensive record and it was always going to be hard for us then at 1-0.

“The second goal, again, we have a throw-in and end up conceding a second goal which I’m bemoaning. Actually though, Stewart Downing and (David) Nugent are Premier League footballers earning Premier League salaries and they showed their quality to punish us.

“At 2-0 up I left three players up and I’m trying to wing it a little bit to get something back and that left us wide open.

“They looked a very good side and deserved to win.”

He added: “We’ve had a great run and have lost to a very good side who will be competing for the top two places. We’ve only lost two here and the other one was to a very good Brighton side.

“I don’t want to lose to the best teams, but I was delighted with our performance funnily enough. Unfortunately we let our guard down and was beaten.

“I thought it was a really good game and a really good performance by us up until them scoring. The first 60-odd minutes we were a match for them, there is no question of that. We just can’t afford to give goals away like that.”

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