Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis hails players but admits they took 'liberties' in second half

Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis
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Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis said his team's first-half performance in their 2-0 win over Ipswich was "as good as we have played all season".

The Teessiders climbed a place to second in the Championship table and ended Ipswich's curious record of drawing every home game this season.

The goals came from Mo Besic in the 12th minute and Stewart Downing in the 16th and Pulis said: "It was as good as we have played all season. The big disappointment was that we got sloppy in the second half.

“We controlled the ball, got hold of it, found the pockets, moved the ball really well and then we got a little bit sloppy.

“We took liberties in certain areas and we lost that tempo, and it’s very difficult to get that tempo back.

“We have to maintain that concentration but it’s the third away game on the bounce and the lads have done fantastic.

"Ipswich got the ball up the sides in the second half and I knew this was going to be more of a football game with a slick, quick pitch.

"The team has done absolutely fantastic when you think we are through to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup and a couple of points away from Leeds. I am really pleased.

"The interplay - we did really, really well at times. The lads have worked with me for seven months now and Stewart and Martin (Braithwaite) and people like that are great.

"It's the third game on the bounce away and that's tough, the way they worked I thought we looked a little bit tired."

The opener came when Besic picked the ball up on the halfway line and made his way towards the visitors' penalty area. His initial shot was blocked by Toto Nsiala but the Bosnian collected the rebound and strode forward to beat keeper Dean Gerken.

Ipswich skipper Luke Chambers then presented the ball straight to Downing, who made a bee-line towards goal and his left-footed shot from just inside the penalty area took a faint deflection off Janoi Donacien to end up in the net.