Boro cast Iron aside
Strachan claims first home win
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: December 26, 2009 5:45pm
Johnson: On target
Gordon Strachan claimed his first home win since taking charge of Middlesbrough as they eased to a 3-0 win over Scunthorpe.
Boro dominated from the off and it was little surprise when they took the lead as Adam Johnson fired home an early penalty after Cliff Byrne clumsily brought down Jeremie Aliadiere - a challenge which saw him red carded.
With the extra man, Strachan's side never looked like surrendering their lead and further goals from Rhys Williams and Aliadiere sealed the win.
The only negative point for Strachan was the late red card handed out to Leroy Lita for violent conduct.
Strachan had vowed to stand firm in the face of the pressure that accompanied the Teessiders' slide to 14th in the Championship table prior to the start of play.
But he had little choice other than to replace and out-of-sorts Brad Jones, with Welsh veteran Danny Coyne returning for his first start under Strachan.
There were three changes for Scunthorpe, with Joe Murphy back in goal after suspension while Martyn Woolford returned from a foot injury and Gary Hooper (ankle) was replaced by Michael O'Connor.
Boro could have taken the lead within the opening 60 seconds as Lita was put clear but fired just inches wide.
Then on nine minutes, the Iron were a goal down and a man light. Isaiah Osbourne had already come within a few inches of handing the hosts the perfect start when he picked the ball up 20 yards out and fired a shot against a post.
And, six minutes later, Boro were ahead when Aliadiere - playing for the first time since the victory over Derby in October, Gareth Southgate's last game in charge - burst into the box and was bundled over by Byrne.
The defender was shown a straight red card for his troubles by referee Neil Swarbrick and, just as he did in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Johnson scored from the spot.
Aliadiere proved a constant menace to the Scunthorpe defence and almost added a second himself 10 minutes later with a snap-shot that drifted wide.
The visitors' response came from O'Connor but his 25-yarder was off target.
Then, after Johnson had lifted a shot against the crossbar, it was 2-0 a minute before half-time as Williams fired across the goalkeeper from just inside the box.
Iron boss Nigel Adkins made a double substitution at the break as Andrew Wright and Jonathan Forte replaced O'Connor and Paul Hayes.
But, within a minute of the restart, any wise half-time words Adkins had delivered were rendered null and void as Aliadiere gained deserved reward for his industrious return when he drilled a shot into the bottom corner.
His job done, the Frenchman soon made way for Marcus Bent before Grant McCann went close with a rare Scunthorpe effort on the hour.
In the final minute, Boro's day was soured somewhat when Lita was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident, but it mattered little in the grand scheme of things.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 26th Dec
Watford0 - 0N Forest
Sheff Wed2 - 2Newcastle
C Palace3 - 1Ipswich
Cardiff0 - 1Plymouth
QPR2 - 1Bristol C
Reading1 - 1Swansea
West Brom2 - 0Peterboro
Derby0 - 2Blackpool
Coventry1 - 0Doncaster
Middlesbro'3 - 0Scunthorpe
Leicester2 - 1Sheff Utd
Sky Bet Championship
|2||Queens Park Rangers||18||38|
|11||Brighton and Hove Albion||18||25|