IPSWICH Town ended their miserable year with another defeat after going down 2-0 at Middlesbrough.

The Blues have won just one of their last 13 matches and Paul Lambert's side remain anchored to the foot of the Championship table.

Middlesbrough, on the other hand, cemented their place in the play-off positions.

Jordan Hugill's first-half penalty set the Teessiders on their way, with Marcus Tavernier's second-half strike rounding off a routine victory.

The result provided Middlesbrough with a first Championship home win since November 10 and eased the pressure that had been building on their manager, Tony Pulis.

They went into the game needing to atone for their Boxing Day home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday but, for the opening half-hour, the hosts' festive hangover looked like continuing.

It was the 35th minute before Boro recorded a shot on target and even that was a tame effort from George Saville that brought sarcastic applause from the home fans.

Ipswich were the more threatening team for most of the first half, with Luke Chambers looping a header onto the top of the crossbar midway through the opening period as he met Jon Nolan's free-kick.

It did not look as though Darren Randolph had touched the ball but referee Jeremy Simpson awarded a corner and the Middlesbrough goalkeeper was forced to produce an excellent save from the subsequent set-piece.

Trevoh Chalobah rose highest on the edge of the six-yard box but Randolph hurled himself to his right to claw away the midfielder's header.

Boro desperately needed something to get them going and it arrived eight minutes before the break as they were awarded a penalty.

Hugill was hauled down by Jordan Spence as he tried to reach Stewart Downing's right-wing cross inside the six-yard box and the West Ham loan striker picked himself up to roll home his fifth goal of the season from the spot.

The goal lifted much of the tension that had been building inside the Riverside and Boro became much more dominant at the start of the second half.

Hugill went close to claiming a second when he raced onto Saville's pass but his shot from inside the area was thwarted by a superb one-handed save by Dean Gerken.

Middlesbrough thought they should have had another penalty moments later but while Matthew Pennington appeared to trip Saville inside the area, Simpson waved play on.

Jonny Howson, playing in an unfamiliar position of right wing-back, broke dangerously down the right, only to overhit his cross for Hugill in the middle, but Boro effectively put the game to bed as they doubled their advantage with 18 minutes left.

Howson played substitute Tavernier into the area and Gerken allowed the midfielder's tame shot to squirm under his body and into the net.