Wheater header earns Boro a point at Ipswich
DAVID WHEATER'S first goal for almost a year prevented a Middlesbrough defeat
in the first match of the post-Adam Johnson era.
With little flair on show from Gordon Strachan's men, it looked for long
spells that Ipswich would claim a victory after Daryl Murphy had opened his
account for the club after just 22 seconds.
But Boro battled back after an awful first half performance to earn a draw
that could and should have been a lot worse.
With £3.5m signing Scott McDonald left behind in the North-East as a precaution
after feeling soreness around the area he recently had hernia surgery, it
was left to Middlesbrough's other new recruits to show their worth.
But Stephen McManus, Kyle Naughton and Lee Miller faced an uphill struggle
when Murphy, who moved on loan from Sunderland last Monday, nipped ahead of
Wheater to poke David Healy's centre beyond Danny Coyne.
Ipswich looked the only team capable of winning in the first half, with Middlesbrough
lacking creativity in the absence of Johnson, who moved to Manchester City
on deadline day.
But after the restart, and once Justin Hoyte was spared further minutes as
a central midfielder, there was much-needed improvement from the visitors.
And after Wheater had headed Gary O'Neil's corner beyond former Hartlepool
goalkeeper Arran Lee-Barrett in the 63rd minute, the Teesside outfit could
actually have taken the lead.
Lee-Barrett was fortunate to turn and gather a near post header from Miller
when his effort had squirmed underneath him and Damien Delaney was on hand
to clear another header from the striker off the line.
But in the end Murphy's first goal in nearly two years was cancelled out
by Wheater's only goal in 11 months to earn a fortunate draw.
The Northern Echo