Ipswich have been in fine form recently, but missed the chance to force their way into the Championship play-off places when they hosted Middlesbrough this past Friday night. The visitors have given their promotion chances a huge boost however, with their 2-0 win over Ipswich bringing them top of the table – even if only temporarily.
Brighton will have the chance to reclaim top spot this weekend, but at the moment it’s advantage Boro.
Mick McCarthy’s Tractor Boys looked the better side in the first half, and Daryl Murphy was a constant threat going forward. He was making some excellent runs, but needed a little more support up front.
He set up Brett Pitman for a first time shot after a great run down the right, but it wasn’t an easy chance. He struck it well, but Dimitrios Konstantopoulos pulled off a fine save to deny him.
On loan Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland Niles was doing an excellent job of keeping Middlesbrough quiet, and the visitors were really struggling to craft anything of note.
Other than a few half chances, the first half wasn’t incredibly lively and neither team really looked too dangerous. We went into the break at 0-0, hoping for a more exciting second 45.
The second half saw an instant rise in the energy levels, from Aitor Karanka’s side in particular. It soon paid off for them, and just before the hour mark they opened the scoring.
Albert Adomah made a marauding run down the left, with Tommy Smith letting him cut inside far too easily. There was no pressure on the Boro man, and he was allowed time and space to pick out a far post cross. Christian Stuani raced onto the ball, bravely diving in to knock the ball in at the back post. 1-0.
Ipswich never really looked like fighting their way back into the game, and let their heads drop slightly after conceding. Boro then doubled their lead with 15 minutes to go, really putting the game to bed.
David Nugent absolutely loves playing against Ipswich, having scored against them on 14 previous occasions. He made it 15 on Friday evening, sealing the win with a fine finish.
Stewart downing picked him out during a counter attack, but he still had plenty to do. He got the better of Smith in a one-on-one, and opted to shoot from distance. He picked his spot perfectly, leaving the keeper with no chance as the ball shot in via the post. 2-0.
Ipswich still have a great chance of promotion, and are just a couple of points off the play-off spots. Boro will have loftier aspirations though, and automatic promotion to the Premier League certainly isn’t out of their grasp.