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Same old story but right result
Final Score: Middlesbrough 2 Ipswich Town 0
THERE was a sense of familiarity at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Middlesbrough scoring a first-half goal, a second-half fightback from the visitors, then a late goal. Typical Boro?
Or not. The late goal was Middlesbrough’s, to seal victory over an Ipswich Town side who had dominated for long spells of the game.
Boro have been subjected to draws or defeats when they have enjoyed more of the ball, so it will have been particularly sweet for Tony Mowbray to see his side second best in terms of chances but still win, maintaining their perfect home record with goals by Luke Williams and a late strike by Mustapha Carayol.
Relief was the feeling for Mowbray, who took a gamble on placing Williams in the side ahead of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Mustapha Carayol.
“We can’t be dominant every game, but sometimes we’ve been dominant and lost,” said Mowbray.
“Luke played when he had a lot of quality waiting behind him on the bench, striking options, yet the young lad has stuck his goal in with aplomb.
It was a bit of a gamble to start him, but he looked fantastically sharp in training and I thought if he’s so hot, don’t disappoint him by leaving him out. Thankfully he’s taken his opportunity.
“It’s a great relief when the second goal goes in, whether there be four minutes left or 20. They were pushing hard, we’ve all been here when we’ve lost late goals, thankfully the second goal was ours.
Our inability to score the second goal created the drama.”
As much as Ipswich attacked in the second half, Boro were comfortable in the opening 45 minutes. Williams dragged a shot wide on 21 minutes after Lee Martin had gone close for the visitors with a shot cutting inside from the right, which Jason Steele did well to tip over the bar, while the England Under- 21 goalkeeper denied Paul Taylor’s lob-shot moments later.
Kevin Thomson pulled the strings for the hosts in the opening 45 and it was his perfect slide-rule pass that led to Boro’s opener.
The former Rangers midfielder was used sparingly in pre-season but his pass to Williams, who fired underneath Scott Loach on 34 minutes, was a reminder as to why the Teessiders invested so heavily in him two years ago.
Jutkiewicz was brought into action in the second half, his first involvement of the season after knee ligament surgery, and almost got on the scoresheet within seconds when he headed just over Loach’s crossbar.
On the hour, Jutkiewicz went close again when Jonathan Woodgate’s pass fell into the path of the Boro striker, whose snap-shot went just wide.
Ipswich poured forward in the final 30 minutes, with Daryl Murphy heading wide, Chopra going close twice, and Taylor drawing a blank with a long-range effort.
But the Tractor Boys’ attacking counted for nothing, and from a Town free-kick, Steele collected and picked out substitute Carayol.
Carayol, clear on goal, steadied himself and fired home.
It was Carayol’s first involvement at the Riverside, and the Gambian was delighted to get on the scoresheet at the first time of asking.
“It’s good to get off to a flyer, on my first game here, but it’s even better that we got the win. We’re on a bit of a run now here, we’ve won three on the trot, and hopefully we can carry on,” he said.
“It was quite tense, they were pushing to get the equaliser, but there was always going to be an opportunity to hit them on the break and I’m happy it fell to me and delighted to have scored.
“They’re always the hardest ones (chances), when you’ve got a lot of time to think about it. But I made my mind up early and I was delighted to see it go in.”
Mowbray, meanwhile, was left to thank his lucky stars against a side who hold a similar view to him on footballing style.
“You’d have to say Ipswich played very well,” said Mowbray, who ended his playing career at Portman Road and was coach under George Burley.
“They’ve got a history of being good with the ball. I was there nine years and the culture, the philosophy and the expectation of the club is that they take care of the ball, and I think they showed that.
They possibly lacked a bit of cutting edge.
“Woodgate and Bikey were very good and yet whilst Ipswich might be disappointed because they’ve played well, we’ve won the game 2-0.
“I’m happy enough to take the points, but there’s things to work on. There’s a lot of games coming up.
“In our defence, there were a lot of players who hadn’t played a lot of football in the last two weeks. The likes of McEachran hadn’t done much, Thomson hasn’t played for four or five weeks, Bikey was thrown straight in, Ishmael Miller hasn’t kicked a ball, had one day’s training in the last two weeks.
“We looked a little leggy, but thankfully we’ve got the job done.”
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