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Ipswich boss George Burley
"It's early days yet"
 real 14k

Saturday, 28 October, 2000, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Ipswich brace sinks sorry Boro
Ipswich celebrate
Mark Venus becomes a hero at Portman Road after scoring
Ipswich 2-1 Middlesbrough.

Town boss George Burley will be pleased to have finally converted away success into home points as Ipswich finish off a sorely-depleted Middlesbrough.

Goals from Richard Naylor and Mark Venus were enough to give the Ipswich a rare win at Portman Road and add to Boro boss Brian Robson's worries.

Middlesbrough, without Paul Ince due to a knee injury and Croatian star Allen Boksic who is still recovering from his own knee problems, looked makeshift and uncertain.

Also Mark Crossley, once touted for England a few years ago, will be kicking himself after his mistake cost Boro their first goal.

Despite a late consolation goal from a deflected Dean Gordon free-kick, it was definitely Ipswich in the driving seat.

Early pressure

From the start, George Burley's side were looking sharp enough to cause Middlesbrough some probems and dominated the centre of play.

However, the first real credible chance fell to Boro as goalkeeper Richard Wright had to be on his toes to save Mark Summerbell's long-range header.

In the first half we played some exceptional stuff, and we have set our standards high, but if we finish fourth bottom I'll still regard it as an exceptional achievement
  George Burley, Ipswich manager
A few minutes later, it was Mark Crossley at the other end who had to keep out Marcus Stewart's effort.

Boro's closest opportunity came in the 15th minute as Columbian striker Hamilton Ricard raced forward into the Ipswich half and found himself one-on-one with Wright.

Ricard, perhaps a little too confidently, tried to slip the the ball under the former England U-21 international, but Wright was not going to concede that easily and blocked it.

Manager Robson showed his dissatisfaction by taking off Ricard shortly after, despite no apparent injury, and brought on summer signing Noel Whelan.

But again and again it was Ipswich doing the attacking, sending shots and teasing passes across Boro's goalmouth, and it seemed only a matter of time before they would get on the score sheet.

Crossley mistake

Crossley only had himself to blame when in the 25th minute he impetuously came out of his area to meet Magilton's incisive pass down the middle of the field.

Instead of clearing the ball to safety, the former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper simply deflected it to a prowling Richard Naylor on the left who calmly drove it into the back of an empty net.

Now a goal down, Boro were feeling the strain and French star Christian Karembeu launched himself too eagerly into a challenge on Mark Venus three minutes later.

We lost the game in the first half when we gave away too really poor goals. But when you lose so many of your best players you are always going to struggle
  Bryan Robson, Middlesbrough manager
Referee Neale Barry gave a free-kick and 33-year-old Venus slid the ball under the Boro wall and past Crossley whose line of sight was clearly blocked by his own players.

After that, Boro seemed to be clutching at straws as they desperately tried to make chances.

Ipswich seemed to slightly lose their way in the second half as Middlesbrough made more of a game of it, but that was all.

The deflected free-kick in the 68th minute by Gordon did little to lift a sorry Boro side and was disappointing for Ipswich after such a dominating performance in defence.

Just to add to Robson's worries, striker Brian Deane was carted off in the second half after a nasty collision and could join Boro's growing injury list.

In the end though, Ipswich continue to challenge in the top half of the table while Middlesbrough, who have yet to keep a clean sheet this season, must wonder where it is all going wrong.

Ipswich: R. Wright, Wilnis, Clapham, Venus, McGreal, Hreidarsson, Holland, Magilton, Stewart, J. Wright, Naylor.
Subs: Salmon, Johnson, Scowcroft, Bramble, Reuser.

Middlesbrough: Crossley, Fleming, Gordon, Vickers, Festa, Karembeu, Deane, Campbell, Ricard, Summerbell, Cooper.
Subs: Beresford, Marinelli, Whelan, Maddison, Job.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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