REACH ENSURES BORO’S REVENGE
And five corners would follow before Boro took first blood. Another inswinger met the head of Miller, who glanced home.
Miller’s slide rule pass found McDonald, his shot well-saved by Gilks, before Marvin Emnes found Smallwood to slot home.
Blackpool reduced the deficit when Thomas fired home, but Boro’s advantage was restored three minutes later when McDonald fired past Gilks.
Blackpool were not done. Basham took advantage of a Steele fumble from Stephen Crainey’s corner to fire his side back into contention.
Then Gary Taylor-Fletcher took a tumble under pressure from Woodgate, which the ref- eree considered before pointing to the spot.
However Ince, who attended the Riverside as a child to watch his dad play when Boro were a Premier League outfit, fluffed his lines and saw Steele claw his spot-kick to safety.
Blackpool’s misery was compounded moments later when Reach fired in from 25 yards.
Middlesbrough started 2012 by suffering a heavy defeat at Bloomfield Road, and it seemed therefore fitting that they would end the year by exacting revenge, this time on their own turf.
And manager Tony Mowbray admitted his side had retribution on their mind.
“Blackpool came here and got a late equaliser last year, this year we got our rewards,” said Mowbray.“The team had a hunger about them to put right what happened at Bloomfield Road. Blackpool played fabulously well that night and we didn’t do ourselves justice. This time, we deserved it.
“We were dominant, all the chances, all possession, all the threat was ours.We knew they would push on, they would push further up the pitch, and that’s what happened. Sometimes you can sit in a bit against it, and obviously their goals created an uncertainty, yet we got ourselves back in front once again.
“We couldn’t have scored four last season because we didn’t have enough goal threats, but this year we have.”
RISING HIGHEST: Ishmael Miller of Middlesbrough scores the opening goal