A brace from Tommy Smith sets the tone as Blues record first win of 2013 in impressive fashion
Town recorded a first win of the New Year in impressive fashion, beating Middlesbrough 4-0 at Portman Road.
A brace from Tommy Smith led the way, with his goals sandwiched by first strikes in a Blue shirt for forwards David McGoldrick and Aaron Mclean.
Town handed a debut to Richard Stearman, who replaced Bradley Orr at right-back, whilst Aaron Mclean started in place of the injured Lee Martin, who missed out with a hamstring injury.
Recent signings Anthony Wordsworth and Stephen Henderson were both named as substitutes, as joining the Club from Colchester and West Ham respectively.
Middlesbrough included former Town duo Kieron Dyer and Grant Leadbitter in their starting line-up, with the former making his debut for the Teesside club.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy was absent from Portman Road with a virus, so Terry Connor took charge of first-team affairs for the afternoon.
The game took a while to kick into gear and the first chance of the afternoon didn’t arrive until the 13th minute. Aaron Cresswell centred from the left Luke Chambers headed towards goal but his effort sailed wide of the target.
The visitors registered their first attempt seven minutes later, with Emmanuel Ledesma seeing a dipping effort fly just over the bar from 30 yards out.
Skipper Carlos Edwards then went close for Blues seconds later, skipping away from George Friend before striking the ball wide of Jason Steele’s right-hand post.
Town were beginning to take control of the game and a neat passing move saw Mclean feed David McGoldrick, who laid the ball off to Murphy but the Celtic loanee fired high over the bar from just outside the area.
Mclean and McGoldrick were beginning to link up well and a neat one-two from the pair saw McGoldrick race through on goal but he was denied by a sprawling Steele, before the Middesbrough ‘keeper recovered to again deny the striker, this time on the rebound after 28 minutes.
A quick free-kick from Cresswell saw him release Murphy down the left but the striker fired into the side-netting from an acute angle just after the half-hour mark.
However Town’s dominance was soon to be rewarded as Blues took the lead after 38 minutes. Cresswell’s corner was met by the head of Smith, as the defender guided his header into the corner at the near-post.
Tony Mowbray’s side started the second-half brightly and Lukas Jutkiewicz should have levelled the scores after 47 minutes, but the striker headed wide from close range after meeting Rhys Williams’ cross at the back-post.
And the visitors were punished for that miss as McGoldrick doubled Town’s advantage seconds later.
The striker robbed George Friend of possession in the middle of the pitch, before running towards goal and eventually hammering the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Steele with no chance. A superb strike from the forward as he netted his first Town goal.
Shortly after and Town were 3-0 up. Mclean this time won possession of the ball, before curling an effort towards goal that sailed past Steele with the help of a slight deflection after 56 minutes.
The striker certainly enjoyed scoring his first Blues goal, as his celebration in front of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand showed.
The visitors, to their credit, were still looking for a way back into the game and Williams should have pulled a goal back after 70 minutes, but the Boro skipper volleyed well wide of the target after being picked out by Adam Reach.
But Blues weren’t finished yet and neither was Smith, as the defender netted his second and Town’s fourth with 12 minutes remaining.
The New Zealand international rose highest in the box to power home Edwards’ cross, scoring his second headed goal of the afternoon as Town enhanced the scoreline.
Anthony Wordsworth came close to scoring on his Town debut in injury time, but his effort from range flashed just over the top.
That was the way it stayed as Town recorded a first win of 2013 with a stylish performance to go with the three points.
Town: Loach, Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N’Daw, Hyam (Drury 85), Murphy, Mclean (Nouble 66), McGoldrick (Wordsworth 77). Subs not used: Henderson, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Chopra.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Williams, Bikey, Woodgate (Hines 65), Friend, Dyer, Haroun, Leadbitter, Ledesma (McEachran 46), Jutkiewicz, Emnes (Reach 62). Subs not used: Ripley, Hines, Parnaby, Bailey, Carayol.
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