Ipswich Town 0-2 Middlesbrough: Downing, Besic goals send Boro joint top of the table
Besic (r.) celebrates his goal in the first half/Photo: Phil Chaplin/MI News

Ipswich Town 0-2 Middlesbrough: Downing, Besic goals send Boro joint top of the table

Two goals in a four-minute span powered Tony Pulis' team past the Tractor Boys, who remain in the bottom three.

John Lupo

Paul Hurst continues to search for his first win as Ipswich Town manager as the Tractor Boys were soundly beaten by Middlesbrough 2-0 at Portman Road.

First-half goals from Everton loanee Muhamed Besic and Stewart Downing saw Boro go level on points with leaders Leeds United, while Ipswich remain winless in their first 11 games this campaign.

Boro strike quickly in four-minute span

The opening ten minutes were plainly played out with only a corner for the home side in the third minute. Soon after, it was the visitors who struck first. 

Ipswich maintained a high pressing and Besic set off on a run through the middle.

A shot ricocheted off of him from Trevoh Chalobah and, after picking up the loose ball, a short run into the box saw the Bosnian fire a low shot that gave Ipswich goalkeeper Dean Gerken no chance.

Four minutes later, the lead was double as Luke Chambers gave away possession to Downing, who had a shot blocked just a minute or so before. He cut into the penalty area, swept past the defenders and fired off of Toto Nsiala, whose sliding block attempt was futile.

Moments later, George Friend let loose a thunderous shot inside the Ipswich area, but Gerken made a fine save low and to his right to deny Boro a third.

The Tractor Boys had a couple of half-chances, the best of the bunch headed just over by Jonas Knudsen.

Donacien was one of Ipswich's better players on the night/Photo: Ipswich Town website
Donacien was one of Ipswich's better players on the night/Photo: Ipswich Town

Ipswich come out strong in the second half

Ipswich nearly halved the deficit straight out of the halftime break, Janoi Donacien floating a tempting cross in from the right and, deep inside the box, Jon Nolan managed to get his head onto the ball, beating two defenders, but his effort flashing wide of the Boro goal.

Four minutes later, Boro defender Ryan Shotton was robbed of possession near the halfway line by Grant Ward, who released halftime substitution Freddie Sears, who drove into the box, but from a tight angle to the left of goal he fired over the visitor's crossbar.

Boro apply the pressure, nearly get a third

It seemed Tony Pulis' side were content to run out the clock, but in the 61st minute Besic was causing problems again, delivered a free-kick into the penalty area. 

Daniel Ayala managed to get his head to the ball and direct it goalwards but Cole Skuse, alertly cleared the danger.

Two minutes later Boro had what looked a strong appeal for a penalty turned down after Donacien appeared to push West Ham loanee Jordan Hugill in the back as the striker ran onto the ball inside the box.

It was almost moot as Friend fizzed another shot across the face of goal. Moments later, Hugill was nearly on the scoresheet as his low drive was inches wide, his final contribution to the game as Pulis subbed him off for Britt Assombalonga.

Tractor Boys apply late heat, come up empty

It was apparent the three points were heading back to Yorkshire, but the home side had a go at getting on the scoresheet.

In the 72nd minute, Gwion Edwards played the ball into the path of Chalobah who let loose from distance, forcing a brilliant fingertip save by Boro keeper Darren Randolph.

Three minutes from time, Edwards drilled a shot wide, the effort summarizing Hurst's plight, leaving the Tractor Boys second from bottom on just six points. 

Pulis look on at Portman Road/Photo: Phil Chaplin/MI News
Pulis looks on at Portman Road/Photo: Phil Chaplin/MI News

Pulis, Hurst speak after match

Pulis was pleased with the overall effort by his side following their win. The Boro boss stated: "It was as good as we have played all season. The big disappointment was that we got sloppy in the second half.

"Ipswich got the ball up the sides in the second half and I knew this was going to be more of a football game with a slick, quick pitch. It's the third game on the bounce away and that's tough, the way they worked I thought we looked a little bit tired."

His opposite number, Hurst, was understandably not talking in the same tone.

The Ipswich boss said: "Overall I'm pleased with some of the character shown in the second half but I can't keep saying that.

"It was far too easy and you don't want to give them goals to start with, certainly not against a team with the defensive record that they have, and it made it very difficult for the players."


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