December 29, 2012
Boro close in on promotion places
Middlesbrough secured their first home league victory over Blackpool for 39 years with a 4-2 win at the Riverside that inched them closer to an automatic promotion place.
The hosts dominated proceedings in the first half and striker Ishmael Miller was at the heart of things with an early goal, with Richard Smallwood doubling the advantage on 35 minutes.
Blackpool fought back when Wes Thomas scored just before the hour mark, but Scott McDonald replied for Boro.
Chris Basham found the net and Blackpool would have edged a point but Thomas Ince's 81st-minute penalty was well saved by Boro keeper Jason Steele, before Adam Reach made the points safe three minutes from time for the hosts.
Middlesbrough were seeking their fourth successive home win and started optimistically with Grant Leadbitter's early corners causing all sorts of problems for Blackpool.
Visiting keeper Matt Gilks was kept busy by Miller's crossing, and the combination for the inevitable opener came as no surprise.
Gilks opted to stay on the line for Leadbitter's 14th-minute corner - Boro's seventh - meaning Miller had enough space to head into the bottom corner.
Miller and Marvin Emnes both went close from the edge of the box, but Boro were forced into a change with the injured Justin Hoyte replaced by Stuart Parnaby.
Blackpool's first decent chance came in the 25th minute when Boro could only half clear from Stephen Crainey's corner as Ince volleyed wide, but the visitors were finding some pockets of pressure up front.
Michael Appleton attempted a shake-up by replacing Nathan Delfouneso with Angel Martinez but Blackpool conceded their second 10 minutes before the break as Emnes' cut-back found Smallwood who coolly slotted in from the edge of the area.
Emnes and Miller proved almost unstoppable in the second half. Gilks tipped over from another Miller cross while Leadbitter kept Boro's threats alive from the corner flag.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher headed tamely wide in a rare Blackpool move while Appleton brought on Ludovic Sylvestre for the ineffective Tiago Gomes.
It provided the impetus as Blackpool strung several passes together before Taylor-Fletcher laid off for Thomas who found space to score at the near post.
Just three minutes later, though, Boro caught their opponents out in possession and Scott McDonald charged forward before a calm finish saw the two-goal advantage restored.
Blackpool attempted a swift response as Chris Basham shot wide but Boro were in cruise control, replacing Miller with Reach before McDonald went close from 18 yards.
Basham then made it a nervy end to the game as Basham got on the end of a cross from the tireless Crainey before Jonathan Woodgate felled Sylvestre to concede the spot kick and earn a yellow card.
The Seasiders, however, failed to capitalise as Ince's spot kick was saved by Steele who guessed correctly, with Boro piling on the misery through Reach who struck in the 87th minute after good work by Lukas Jutkiewicz.
|1 Jason Steele||1 Matthew Gilks|
|39 Jonathan Woodgate||3 Stephen Crainey|
|2 Justin Hoyte||42 Kirk Broadfoot|
|14 Rhys Williams||15 Alex Baptiste|
|10 Nick Bailey||17 Chris Basham|
|7 Grant Leadbitter||20 Craig Cathcart|
|33 Richard Smallwood||8 Filipe Tiago Gomes|
|18 Andy Halliday||12 Gary Taylor-Fletcher|
|27 Scott McDonald||40 Nathan Delfouneso|
|30 Ishmael Miller||39 Wesley Thomas|
|9 Marvin Emnes||11 Thomas Ince|
|32 Jayson Leutwiler||Mark Halstead 21|
|21 Stuart Parnaby||Robert Harris 33|
|25 Adam Reach||Neal Eardley 5|
|8 Kevin Thomson||Martinez Cervera Angel 31|
|5 Merouane Zemmama||Ludovic Sylvestre 14|
|17 Lukas Jutkiewicz||Kevin Phillips 9|
|22 Luke Williams||Nouha Dicko 38|
|Stuart Parnaby for Justin Hoyte (21)||Martinez Cervera Angel for Nathan Delfouneso (37)|
|Adam Reach for Ishmael Miller (65)||Ludovic Sylvestre for Filipe Tiago Gomes (57)|
|Lukas Jutkiewicz for Marvin Emnes (82)|
|Jonathan Woodgate (80)|
|· Squads: Middlesbrough | Blackpool|