Sky Bet Championship: Middlesbrough no match for Ipswich
Last Updated: 21/12/14 7:31pm
Ipswich Town returned to second in the Sky Bet Championship with a convincing 2-0 victory over fellow promotion contenders Middlesbrough at Portman Road.
Daryl Murphy opened the scoring after 25 minutes, before Jay Tabb netted a crucial second just before half-time, heading home after a beautiful three-man move from the Suffolk side.
Boro offered little in the second half as Ipswich comfortably continued their fine home form.
Less than a minute after kick-off, Ipswich carved out the first chance when Tommy Smith rose highest to meet Paul Anderson's free-kick, but his header went wide.
And they went even closer with 11 minutes on the clock, after Christophe Berra's diagonal ball was nodded on by Murphy and Anderson fired just over with a left-footed volley.
A cagey opening 25 minutes finally came to life thanks to Murphy's 14th goal of the season. Tabb did well down the left, cutting the ball back for David McGoldrick, who looked certain to score, only to be denied by the legs of Dimitrios Konstantopoulos. But there was Murphy to fire home the rebound and break the deadlock.
Ipswich fans thought their team had won a penalty six minutes before the interval when the ever-dangerous McGoldrick tricked his way past Kenneth Omeruo in the area and went down under apparent contact, but referee James Linington booked the Town striker for simulation.
Middlesbrough finally fashioned a decent chance in the 41st minute, when Adam Reach gained a yard out wide and his cross was headed just wide by Albert Adomah.
The crucial second goal came the way of the hosts with virtually the last kick of an intriguing first half.
A fine period of passing involving McGoldrick, Luke Chambers and Teddy Bishop ended with a teasing cross from the latter, met by 5ft 5ins Tabb to head home into the corner.
A buoyant Ipswich predictably started the second half on top and Chambers headed straight at Konstantopoulos from Anderson's dangerous free-kick.
At the other end, George Friend was unable to get any power behind his shot after a neat exchange with Jelle Vossen as Boro showed a bit more intent.
Town centre back Christophe Berra had to be alert to clear off the line after Reach's attempted lob.
Ipswich went tantalisingly close to a decisive third when Murphy's header was cleared off the line by Boro skipper Grant Leadbitter and Smith hit the rebound against the foot of the post.
The visitors were offering less and less, the best half-chance falling to Daniel Ayala, who fired over from 15 yards, while at the other end the impressive Anderson drilled a long-range shot just wide before substitute Darren Ambrose did likewise minutes later.