Middlesbrough 2 Ipswich 0: More to come from Boro, insists Monk

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Middlesbrough returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Ipswich that enabled them to leapfrog their East Anglian opponents in the Championship table.

Boro moved up to eighth as goals from Martin Braithwaite and Patrick Bamford saw them end a two-game losing run with a comfortable success.

Braithwaite drilled home from close range on the stroke of half-time, with Bamford claiming his first goal of the season as he fired home an excellent 20-yard strike at the start of the second half.

Ipswich barely mustered a shot at goal, and Mick McCarthy will have been bitterly disappointed with his players’ efforts given that they travelled to Teesside in decent form.

Middlesbrough went into the game with Garry Monk’s position being called into question on the back of back-to-back defeats to Derby and Bristol City, but if there were any nerves in the home ranks, they were hard to detect in the opening stages.

Boro dominated the whole of the first half, with the recalled Bamford pulling the strings from the ‘number ten’ position, although it took them until a minute before the interval to make a breakthrough.

They would have scored in the 18th minute had an unmarked Ben Gibson made a cleaner connection as he slid in to meet Stewart Downing’s free-kick, but the centre-half scuffed his shot and Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski made a routine save.

Boro threatened again midway through the first half, with Fabio da Silva volleying Downing’s cross wide of the target, and Bialkowski was called into action again shortly before the break as he kept out Britt Assombalonga’s low strike.

Darren Randolph had not had to make a single save in the Middlesbrough goal at that stage, and the hosts’ dominance was finally rewarded on the stroke of half-time.

Grant Ward made a mess of trying to deal with Downing’s cross from the right-hand side, and when the ball fell invitingly at Braithwaite’s feet, the Denmark international lashed home a clinical close-range strike.

Boro merited their advantage, and duly doubled their lead just six minutes after the interval. While their opener owed much to Ipswich’s failings, their second goal was a cracker.

Cyrus Christie rolled the ball to Bamford, and after cutting in from the right-hand side, the forward drilled an excellent 20-yard shot into the bottom left-hand corner. It was Bamford’s first Championship goal since April 2015, and reminiscent of so many of the finishes he produced during his successful loan spell at the Riverside.

Assombalonga headed Christie’s right-wing cross over the bar as Boro threatened to extend their advantage even further, and with both Bamford and Downing causing problems whenever they ran at the Ipswich defence, the hosts hardly looked like a team that had been struggling for form.

Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk said: “I’m pleased for the players, and I’m pleased for our fans. The main thing today was to show a response, both for our fans and for ourselves. Overall, I thought we were very comfortable in the game, and were deserved winners.

“We were on top throughout, and it was a step forward in terms of showing the possibilities of what we can be. Of course, I still think we can be a lot better and there’s a lot more to come, but as I’ve said to the players, we have to learn the lessons from the last few weeks.

“We’ve taken steps forward already this season, and then shot ourselves in the foot and taken a few steps backwards.

“What’s important is that we have another opportunity, having taken another step forward today, and we have to work doubly hard to make sure that we build some more momentum in the next game and then keep adding to that and growing that confidence. If we can get that to grow, I think we all know what we’re capable of.”