Boro surge past Seasiders
Sat 29th Dec 3pm
Middlesbrough continue to challenge for an automatic promotion place after a 4-2 victory over Blackpool at the Riverside.
The hosts opened up a two-goal advantage at the interval courtesy of Ishmael Miller and Richard Smallwood but Wes Thomas pulled one back on the hour.
However, Scott McDonald immediately restored the difference, only for the visitors to respond again through Chris Basham. The highly-rated Tom Ince then had a penalty saved by Jason Steele.
Substitute Adam Reach eventually settled the issue in Boro's favour with just a couple of minutes remaining to leave them within a point of second place.
From the latest of a flurry of early corners the hosts went ahead on fourteen minutes when Miller headed in Grant Leadbitter's delivery from the left.
Marvin Emnes went close to a second as he drove over from the edge of the area before setting up Smallwood to fire low past Matthew Gilks to increase the lead.
Blackpool's reaction had striker Alex Baptiste unable to find the required touch at the far post after the break, until Thomas struck low past Steele on 59 minutes to bring his side back into the game.
Basham was certainly fancying an equaliser as he next shot wide but it was Boro extending their lead when McDonald moved into double figures for the season as he surged forward and curled beyond the keeper.
However, Basham was on hand to reduce the deficit again when Steele failed to gather Stephen Crainey's 76th minute corner.
The Seasiders could even have been level within five minutes as Jonathan Woodgate was penalised for a challenge inside his own area on Gary Taylor-Fletcher. But Steele guessed correctly to deny fellow England Under-21 international and Premiership target Ince from the spot.
Boro finally settled any doubt with only a couple of minutes remaining as Lukas Jutkiewicz chested down for fellow substitute Reach to claim his second goal of the season from around twenty-yards.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte (Parnaby 21), R. Williams, Woodgate, Halliday, Leadbitter, Bailey, Smallwood, Emnes (Jutkiewicz 82), McDonald, Miller (Reach 65)
subs (unused): Leutwiler, Zemmama, Thomson, L. Williams
Goals: Miller (14), Smallwood (36), McDonald (62), Reach (88)
Blackpool: Gilks, Crainey, Baptiste, Basham, Cathcart, Broadfoot, Gomes (Sylvestre 57), Ince, Taylor-Fletcher, Thomas, Delfouneso (Angel 37)
subs (unused): Halstead, Eardley, Harris, K. Phillips, Dicko
Goals: Thomas (59), Basham (76)