Middlesbrough 3-0 Blackpool: Chuba Akpom scores 16th league goals of the season


ANOTHER home win, another clean sheet. And on the day that Sheffield United dropped points at Rotherham United, another message from Middlesbrough to their rivals that they’re not going away.

Ahead of the visit of struggling Blackpool, Carrick had warned that there’s no such thing as a Championship walkover, but his Boro side made it look relatively easy, coasting to their second 3-0 win over the Seasiders this season.

It’s quite remarkable to think Boro were below Blackpool in the Championship table ahead of their Bloomfield Road meeting in November. Boro’s success that day was the start of their charge up the table; Blackpool haven’t won since.

Little surprise, then, that Boro were deemed Saturday’s Championship bankers in the eyes of the bookies. Dealing with expectation is part and parcel of life at the top end of the Championship but Boro coped just fine here – helped in no small part by the inspired Chuba Akpom, who added two more goals to take his tally to the season for 16 in the league.

His first, to put Boro ahead, was a work of art. He doubled his tally and Boro’s lead after the break before Paddy McNair, who kept his place in the team despite Dael Fry being available again, scored his first goal of the season to make it three.

Boro’s win at Blackpool earlier in the season lifted them to 16th in the table. Now they’re third, and although Sheffield United are still 10 points ahead, Boro are looking up rather than over their shoulder at what’s happening behind.To cap off a good day’s work for Boro, Dan Barlaser made his debut from the bench, on for the final 25 minutes.

By that stage, Boro were 2-0 up and well on their way to another deserved victory.

They dominated from the get-go against Blackpool, very nearly opening the scoring with just 10 minutes on the clock when Darragh Lenihan’s glancing header clipped off the underside of the bar before hitting the unaware McNair and rolling into the hands of grateful Blackpool keeper Chris MaxwellMcNair kept his place in the side after last week’s impressive showing against Watford, with Fry having to settle for a spot on the bench, alongside Barlaser.

The midfielder was applauded by the home fans as he trotted out to warm-up early in the first half.

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