Ruthless Middlesbrough hit a new high at home to impress boss Michael Carrick

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Preston were beaten convincingly on Teesside.

Michael Carrick has saluted his injury-hit squad for delivering Middlesbrough’s biggest home win of the season against an out-of-sorts Preston.

The Lilywhites, who started the evening sixth, had no answer to Boro’s first half display that earned them a three-goal advantage at the break.

Preston struggled to make an impact in the final third and were cut open too easily by a home side, who won 4-0 and closed the gap to the Sky Bet Championship play-off zone to three points.

Middlesbrough winger Isaiah Jones’ calmly-taken double in the 16th and 37th minutes sandwiched Rav van den Berg’s first senior goal in the 26th minute after he scored from a corner.

Even though the points had already been secured at half-time, Middlesbrough full-back Alex Bangura curled in from just inside the area to make it 4-0 in the fourth minute of added-time at the end of the contest.

And Carrick, whose side head to fourth-placed Leeds on Saturday, said: “We played well in spells, that’s football. Performance-wise we have played better in some games, but goals at both ends tell the story.

“We were ruthless, we created and defended very well in terms of limiting them. It was a new back four who hadn’t played together before, they played well.

“We will definitely take 4-0. I can’t fault the boys, sometimes it will work and sometimes it might go against us.

“I was confident going into the game, there was good balance even if it was quite new in terms of the changes. I thought we were in good shape and that proved to be the case.

“We lost Dael Fry and Hayden Hackney (groin and hamstring injuries) from Saturday, it tends to be the way we are going. We had eight senior players out tonight.

“That’s why the squad is vital and we can’t make excuses. The boys cracked on and we are now preparing for Saturday.”

Preston have now won just two of their last 11 matches having started the season with six wins from the opening seven fixtures.

Boss Ryan Lowe, whose side did not record a shot on target until the final 20 minutes, said: “I’m angry, disappointed, but they are my group of players, win, lose or draw.

“There were harsh words in the dressing room. They have given us some fantastic football, but when we went one down there was fear that set in.

“The first half performance was nowhere near the levels we expect. If we want to keep being a mid-table team those are mid-table performances, but we don’t want to be that team.

“The lads know that the first half was nowhere near the levels we require.

“We came here with full belief we could challenge. Boro are not the formidable side from last season, even though they still have good players and a fantastic coach, but I expect us to be better.

“I will stick with the players. They know it is not good enough. We have let everyone down and what we have to do now is put it right as quickly as we can.

“I will give them the benefit of the doubt tonight, but if we don’t get it right then we will flip it around because we want to keep progressing. The first 45 minutes was not acceptable.”

Ruthless Middlesbrough hit a new high at home to impress boss Michael Carrick

Preston were beaten convincingly on Teesside.

Michael Carrick has saluted his injury-hit squad for delivering Middlesbrough’s biggest home win of the season against an out-of-sorts Preston.

The Lilywhites, who started the evening sixth, had no answer to Boro’s first half display that earned them a three-goal advantage at the break.

Preston struggled to make an impact in the final third and were cut open too easily by a home side, who won 4-0 and closed the gap to the Sky Bet Championship play-off zone to three points.

Middlesbrough winger Isaiah Jones’ calmly-taken double in the 16th and 37th minutes sandwiched Rav van den Berg’s first senior goal in the 26th minute after he scored from a corner.

Even though the points had already been secured at half-time, Middlesbrough full-back Alex Bangura curled in from just inside the area to make it 4-0 in the fourth minute of added-time at the end of the contest.

And Carrick, whose side head to fourth-placed Leeds on Saturday, said: “We played well in spells, that’s football. Performance-wise we have played better in some games, but goals at both ends tell the story.

“We were ruthless, we created and defended very well in terms of limiting them. It was a new back four who hadn’t played together before, they played well.

“We will definitely take 4-0. I can’t fault the boys, sometimes it will work and sometimes it might go against us.

“I was confident going into the game, there was good balance even if it was quite new in terms of the changes. I thought we were in good shape and that proved to be the case.

“We lost Dael Fry and Hayden Hackney (groin and hamstring injuries) from Saturday, it tends to be the way we are going. We had eight senior players out tonight.

“That’s why the squad is vital and we can’t make excuses. The boys cracked on and we are now preparing for Saturday.”

Preston have now won just two of their last 11 matches having started the season with six wins from the opening seven fixtures.

Boss Ryan Lowe, whose side did not record a shot on target until the final 20 minutes, said: “I’m angry, disappointed, but they are my group of players, win, lose or draw.

“There were harsh words in the dressing room. They have given us some fantastic football, but when we went one down there was fear that set in.

“The first half performance was nowhere near the levels we expect. If we want to keep being a mid-table team those are mid-table performances, but we don’t want to be that team.

“The lads know that the first half was nowhere near the levels we require.

“We came here with full belief we could challenge. Boro are not the formidable side from last season, even though they still have good players and a fantastic coach, but I expect us to be better.

“I will stick with the players. They know it is not good enough. We have let everyone down and what we have to do now is put it right as quickly as we can.

“I will give them the benefit of the doubt tonight, but if we don’t get it right then we will flip it around because we want to keep progressing. The first 45 minutes was not acceptable.”

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