WHO needs Jordan Rhodes? Not Middlesbrough. Not on this evidence anyway.
After talk of an unsuccessful attempt to lure Rhodes from Blackburn on loan with a view to a permanent summer switch dominated the build-up to this clash, Boro kept up their pursuit of promotion in style.
Patrick Bamford, playing centrally, delivered a deadly second-half double, adding to first-half goals from Daniel Ayala and Albert Adomah after Daryl Murphy’s equaliser to put a serious dent in Ipswich’s own play-off hopes.
And Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka said: “Patrick deserves those goals for his work-rate and he showed great confidence in the way he took both of them.
“It was massive to win, we needed a performance and I thought we were brilliant against a good, strong team. To be eight points ahead of them is a good situation for us.
“I said beforehand I don’t want to talk about players from other teams. We moved Patrick up front and I was pleased with how it worked, Patrick is the kind of player who needs to score to be confident.
“It’s good for him and the team. We’ve played against a strong team who finished the game with four strikers and the main thing is that we’re eight points ahead of them.
“We had a good week on the training ground and I knew I could expect a performance like this. We’re a team who needs to work on the training ground to help our confidence.”
Middlesbrough head to title rivals Derby on Tuesday and then Bournemouth next Saturday, so it was viewed on Teesside as essential that they collected maximum points against Ipswich.
While Karanka was satisfied with the result, Mick McCarthy was frustrated that his team had missed an opportunity to close the gap on one of the leading contenders for automatic promotion.
McCarthy said: “We worked on defending corners and conceded two goals from them.We were great in the first half and in the second half we were undone by a really good goal by Patrick Bamford; it’s great play by him.
W-AY TO GO! Daniel Ayala scores the first goal for Middlesbrough
THREE ‘N EASY: Patrick Bamford rounds the keeper for Middlesbrough’s third goal