MIDDLESBROUGH’S hopes of achieving promotion this season took another hit after they slumped to their fourth league defeat of 2013 against Ipswich Town.
Goals from Tommy Smith, David McGoldrick and Aaron McLean condemned Tony Mowbray’s men, who rarely showed signs of breaking their hosts down at Portman Road.
The defeat sees Boro remain in sixth place in the Championship, but the gap between them and seventh was reduced to four points after Burnley drew at Peterborough. Smith gave Mick McCarthy’s – who missed the game due to illness – side a 38th minute lead when he headed in from Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
It had been a nothing game up until then, but the hosts deserved their lead with Boro doing very little of their own.
Ipswich’s second goal came two minutes after the restart when McGoldrick – a January loan signing – scored from 22 yards after Boro had allowed him to advance forward unchallenged.
Two became three on 56 minutes when McLean – another January loan signing – cut inside and saw his shot deflected past Jason Steele.
Rhys Williams had Boro’s best chance of the game when substitute Adam Reach crossed to the back post, but the defender couldn’t direct his shot on target.
That was a good as it got for the Teessiders, who conceded a fourth in the 79th minute when Smith headed in from a Cresswell corner again.