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Conor Chaplin on target as high-flying Ipswich triumph at Middlesbrough

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Dec 2023

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A goal in each half earned Ipswich a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough to keep Kieran McKenna’s side on the tails of leaders Leicester.

The Tractor Boys impressed at the Riverside even though goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky had to make a few good second-half saves to prevent Boro from scoring.

Conor Chaplin’s eighth of the season nine minutes before half-time was followed by substitute Omari Hutchinson’s fine finish in the 67th minute to seal the points for McKenna’s side.

The third win in a row keeps Ipswich a point behind Leicester at the top of the table, while Middlesbrough sit 12th and three points behind sixth place after a third defeat in four games.

Despite a decent atmosphere inside the Riverside, the game took a while to burst into life.

Neither side created anything in the opening exchanges, with the visitors making inroads as an attacking force first.

Ipswich were also first to hit the target. Middlesbrough goalkeeper Seny Dieng was in the right place to hold a deflected effort from George Hirst after good work from Nathan Broadhead.

And Broadhead, who spent time in the North East at Sunderland last season, went close when his 20-yard strike took a deflection before dropping just the wrong side of the crossbar after half an hour.

Ipswich got the breakthrough they deserved six minutes later. Chaplin’s half-volley, which shaved the head of Matt Clarke before finding the net, was the result of Jonny Howson’s failure to deal properly with Wes Burns’ ball into the area.

Defender Clarke, who was making his first start in more than a year because of a problematic back injury, could not have done much about it.

It was only then when Middlesbrough, who had eight first-team players ruled out, started to look more threatening.

Striker Emmanuel Latte Lath, the liveliest man in a red shirt in the final third, side-footed wide from 18 yards after his direct run through the heart of the Ipswich defence created something from nothing.

That was the closest Middlesbrough came to scoring before the break.

After the restart Matt Crooks earned a corner 10 minutes in when a passage of play ended with his shot being blocked by Cameron Burgess when it looked like it could test goalkeeper Hladky.

In fact the best save Hladky had to make up to that point was when he turned over Dan Barlaser’s corner on the hour that was curling straight in.

And the Czech Republic man was alert again five minutes later to dive left and prevent Latte Lath from finding the net with a header.

Those stops paved the way for Ipswich to add the second. This time Chaplin turned provider with a pass in behind the defence.

And with Middlesbrough full-back Lukas Engel caught deep, Hutchinson was played onside. When faced with just Dieng to beat he picked his spot brilliantly, low to the left with 23 minutes remaining.

Engel’s cross a few minutes later almost made amends when it was deflected goalwards by the head of Ipswich’s excellent defender Luke Woolfenden. Again, though, Hladky was there to save well.

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