Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

3 Points Dominic Shaw

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

3 Points Dominic Shaw

Article excerpt

1 Grant Leadbitter and Ben Gibson at their best Daniel Ayala and Adam Clayton have received their fair share of plaudits this season and rightly so, the pair have delivered terrific displays by the week.

And there was no change here. Ayala and Clayton, as ever, were outstanding.

But so were their respective partners. Boro won't face a more testing midfield battle all season, coming up against three class acts in Bradley Johnson, Jacob Butterfield and George Thorne - and Jeff Hendrick when Thorne was replaced.

They needed a big display from Clayton and Leadbitter and how they got it, inspired by the superb skipper who enjoyed what was without doubt his best performance of the season so far.

Leadbitter was everywhere, all-singing, alldancing, all-tackling. The snarling captain crashed into challenges, dominated the middle of the park, sprayed the ball about and set the intensity from the off as Boro grabbed a foothold in the game.

And behind him, well, Ayala was obviously impeccable but no more so than the outstanding Ben Gibson.

Gibson was far from fully fit when Boro played at Derby earlier this season. He's fully fit now and he's in the form of his career.

Both Leadbitter and Gibson delivered their best displays of the season when it mattered most.

Left-side delight for Boro It was the second half at Ipswich away which seemed to spark it.

2 Since then, Boro's left side has been the primary cause of problems for opposition defences.

George Friend and Albert have struck up a lethal partnership down that flank that continues to flourish - as Derby found out.

With Tom Ince repeatedly getting dragged inside, George Friend had the invite of space to run into, particularly in the first half. As if he was going to reject such an invitation. …

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