Report, MOTM poll and gallery: Ipswich Town 2 Middlesbrough 0 – First-half Murphy and Tabb goals see Blues return to second

Ipswich Town v Middlesborough.
Sky Bet Championship.
Town celebrate as Jay Tabb scores taking them

Ipswich Town v Middlesborough. Sky Bet Championship. Town celebrate as Jay Tabb scores taking them to a 2-0 lead in the last minute of the first half. Jay Tabb with Daryl Murphy. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Middlesbrough: Ipswich Town moved back to second in the Championship table following an impressive 2-0 home win over fellow high-fliers Middlesbrough at Portman Road, Daryl Murphy and Jay Tabb both scoring in the first half.

Murphy, the division’s leading scorer, took his goal tally for the campaign to 14 when he coolly finished a rebound chance in the 25th minute. The 5ft 5in Tabb then powered home a brave, towering header in first-half stoppage-time following a slick one-touch move down the right.

Town’s margin of victory could have been greater too, David McGoldrick controversially booked for ‘simulation’ following a strong-looking penalty shout at 1-0 and Tommy Smith stabbing a shot against the post in the second half.

It was only Boro’s second defeat in 17 matches, with Mick McCarthy’s men now unbeaten in nine heading into their Boxing Day game at in-form Brentford.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy made one enforced change to his starting XI, following a goalless draw at Bolton, the injured Tyrone Mings (infected toe) replaced at left-back by Jonathan Parr. Boro boss Aitor Karanka replaced centre-back Ben Gibson with Kenneth Omeru following his side’s 2-0 home win over Derby.

Tommy Smith rose highest in the box to head Paul Anderson’s deep free-kick just wide in the opening minute.

At the other end, there were ironic cheers when midfielder Grant Leadbitter’s corner failed to beat the first man – as was so often the case during his three years with the Blues.

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Boro passed the ball about well but created very little. Town – more than happy to go direct – did have openings.

One such moment came in the 12th minute when Christophe Berra’s raking ball into the right corner was brilliantly controlled by Murphy and helped into the path of Anderson. The Blues winger dinked the ball over the head of Omeru – Gazza at Euro 96 style – but then blazed his volley over the bar.

There was nothing route one about Town’s opener in the 25th minute though. Teddy Bishop’s clever reverse pass up the line found Tabb in acres of space, his pull-back found McGoldrick in a golden position and, after his side-footed shot was well-saved by the legs of keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos, Murphy kept his cool to stick the rebound in the bottom corner.

Moments later, McGoldrick produced a perfectly-timed slide tackle on Leadbitter in the middle of the pitch to further lift a bouyant home crowd.

After a cagey 10 minute spell there was major controversy in the 35th minute when McGoldrick was booked for ‘simulation’ in the box. The tricky forward had cut inside Omeru – already on a booking – inside the area and gone over his dangled leg in a slightly exaggerated fashion. Nevertheless, he was certainly impeded.

Boro responded by creating their first chance of the match, in the 41st minute, when Albert Adomah glanced Adam Reach’s curling delivery from the left across the face of goal.

Town did not let the aforementioned incidents knock their confidence though and Bishop had the crowd on its feet when he somehow, surrounded by three players, danced his way out of a tight spot with the ball seemingly glued to his boot.

The all-important second goal arrived in first half stoppage-time – and what a goal it was. A silky, slick, one-touch move down the right included a Luke Chambers flick with his instep before Bishop supplied a pin-point cross. The diminutive midfielder outjumped two defenders, leaving them both in a heap, and powered home a brave header inside the six-yard box.

Chambers headed a deep Anderson free-kick delivery straight at Konstantopoulos soon after the restart. The visitors responded with their first shot on target, attack-minded left-back George Friend playing a good one-two to burst into the box before his shot was well held by Bartosz Bialkowski at the near post.

Cole Skuse went off with what looked like a hamstring problem in the 52nd minute, replaced by Kevin Bru.

Just after the hour mark there was yet more big refereeing controversy when Omeru – the man involved in the earlier penalty incident – caught the full-flight Anderson late. It looked a nailed on booking, but James Linington refused to show the defender a second yellow. Town players were incensed. Boro boss Karanka quickly subbed Omeru.

Berra was back in plenty of time to head Reach’s lob over Bialkowski off the line, following a rare Boro attack. At the other end, Town almost extended their advantage when Tommy Smith stabbed a shot against the post after Murphy’s header, following Anderson’s corner, was cleared off the line by Leadbitter.

The organised and focussed Blues then saw the match out in a highly professional fashion. They have now lost just once in 18 outings.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Parr; Anderson (Sammon 82), Bishop (Ambrose 71), Skuse (Bru 52), Tabb; Murphy, McGoldrick.

Unused subs: Gekren, Clarke, S.Hunt, Bajner.

Booked: McGoldrick (38).

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Konstantopoulos; Nsue, Ayala, Omeru (Veljkovic 62), Friend; Leadbitter, Clayton; Adomah (Tomlin 46), Vossen (Kike 62), Reach; Bamford.

Unused subs: Mejias, Gibson, Whitehead, Wildschut.

Booked: Vossen (21), Omeru (28), Friend (88).

Attendnace: 21,187 (1,111 away).

Referee: James Linington.

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