Murphy on target again but Bamford brace takes Middlesbrough top
The striker, on loan from Chelsea, showed a top flight touch to break clear of the Town defence and score with ease just past the hour and then wrapped up the points for the home side 12 minutes from time with a brilliant individual strike.
Daniel Ayala had given Boro an early lead but Daryl Murphy’s 23rd goal of the season saw Town level almost immediately before Albert Adomah’s drive on the half hour gave the home side the advantage at the break.
Mick McCarthy made one change from the team that drew with Brentford last week, Teddy Bishop coming in for Richard Chaplow in the heart of the midfield.
Middlesbrough had already threatened before their opener, with Luke Chambers sliding in perfectly to rob Jelle Vossen when he was in on goal but from the resultant corner, Ayala headed in from close range to give the home side a fourth minute advantage.
Town’s woes were added to with Dean Gerken, who became a dad yesterday, needing lengthy treatment after colliding with Christophe Berra as he came for the cross that led to Ayala’s goal. The ‘keeper was stretchered off, Bart Bialkowski the replacement.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Town were level though. Jonathan Parr’s long range strike was kept out by Dimi Konstantopoulos but Murphy was on hand to put the rebound into the empty net.
Berra had to be alert to keep out Bamford, while at the other end Tyrone Mings’s shot was gathered by Konstantopoulos, then Murphy saw his shot deflect on to the inside of the post and bounce gratefully into the hands of Konstantopoulos after Bishop and Jay Tabb had linked up well.
Middlesbrough were forced into an early change themselves, with goalscorer Ayala replaced by Jonathan Woodgate.
Murphy headed over after Cole Skuse’s shot had been deflected over but against the run of play, Boro went ahead again on the half hour, a well worked corner saw the ball fall to Adomah and he buried his shot into the net from 15 yards.
Bishop tested Konstantopoulos from the edge of the box as Town continued to carry a threat going forward, Woodgate clearing after Berra had fed the ball back into the box following a corner.
It needed a last ditch tackle to stop Murphy getting through after he left three men in his wake, Adomah blitzing a shot wide after a Boro breakaway.
Bishop, then Sears, had shots smothered inside the Middlesbrough area as Town pressed for an equaliser the first-half performance would have deserved.
Berra had an anxious look at referee Mike Jones on the half-time whistle after Bamford went down in the box but the official waved away the penalty appeals to leave Blues a goal down at the break and unluckily so.
Vossen sent a looping effort onto the roof of the net from Adomah’s cross as the second-half got underway, Murphy then showing a great touch to draw a foul from Ben Gibson, Sears sending a long range effort wide from the free-kick.
Bamford showed his class though to put daylight between the teams just past the hour though, beating Blues’ offside trap and then rounding Bialkowski before putting the ball into the empty net.
Chris Wood replaced Tabb midway through the second-half as Town pushed three up front, Adam Clayton’s 30 yarder going over as Boro threatened a fourth.
Parr had a shot blocked on the edge of the box but the game was over on 78 minutes when Bamford again showed Premier League quality, his dummy left Tommy Smith beaten and he blasted a low drive past Bialkowski.
Adomah fired just wide as Boro looked to catch Town on the break, the former Bristol City winger then setting up Bamford for what should have been his hat-trick but his right foot effort sailed over the bar.
Substitute Emilio Nsue headed over from six yards out, Bamford then having another chance to add to the scoreline, his fierce strike going wide but the Chelsea loanee had done the damage.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Kalas, Ayala (Woodgate 24), Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter (Nsue 87), Clayton, Adomah, Reach, Bamford, Vossen (Forshaw 65). Subs not used: Ripley, Whitehead, Tomlin, Kike. Booked: Gibson, Reach, Adomah.