Middlesbrough made ground on the automatic promotion places after their 2-0 win over Ipswich Town at the Riverside Stadium.
Jordan Hugill scored a first half penalty and Marcus Tavernier doubled the lead late on in the game.
The result provided Middlesbrough with a first Championship home win since November 10, and reduced the pressure building on their manager Tony Pulis.
Ipswich have won just one in their last thirteen and stay rooted to the bottom of the Championship table.
However, Middlesbrough’s victory was not as comprehensive as it looks.
The home side took 35 minutes to register a shot on target, a tame on at that, with George Saville volleying from distance into the arms of Dean Gerken.
Sarcastic jeers from the home side after seeing a shot on goal signified the toxic atmosphere at the Riverside at the current moment.
Ipswich took advantage of the disconnect between fans and players and conjured up a couple of decent chances.
The most notable from a corner, as a header from Trevor Chalobah was saved brilliantly by Randolph diving to his right.
Boro’s breakthrough came in the 35th minute, as Stewart Downing crossed in a ball from the right and Jordan Hugill appeared to be pulled down to the ground by Ipswich right back Jordan Spence, a challenge which was deemed a penalty by referee Jeremy Simpson.
Teesside born Jordan Hugill stepped up and confidently slotted home his fifth goal of the season since arriving on loan from West Ham in summer.
The pressure was eased on Boro as they began to take control of the game but the crowd brought the team back to reality, chanting “we scored a goal”.
Boro became more dominant in the second half, with Saville and Hugill having chances apiece and Dean Gerken doing everything he could to prevent a second Middlesbrough goal.
However, the barrier was broke in the 72nd minute as substitute Marcus Tavernier doubled the advantage.
The energetic Jonny Howson fed through the England under 20 International who finished with the outside of his left boot from close range.
Middlesbrough ended the game strong and could have had a third or fourth.
Lewis Wing had a shot blocked close to the six yard box and George Friend headed just over the bar from close range.
An important win for Middlesbrough as a lot of teams around them dropped points in the final set of fixtures for 2018.
Tony Pulis: “I was pleased with the performance, although I was disappointed again with the chances we created that we didn’t score enough goals.
“But you can’t fault the players. The players worked really hard today, and I thought we deserved to win the game.”
Pulis was also asked about Rajiv Van La Parra, who watched the game from the stands at the Riverside.
“It’s close but nothing is done yet.”
Paul Lambert: “I thought the way we played was excellent. They have one player on the bench (Britt Assombalonga) who cost more than our entire team.
“Football wise, we were absolutely brilliant. But we need to be more clinical in the final third. If we get a few in, and I think we need a little bit of help, we will be okay. Football wise, they have been excellent for me – I can’t ask any more.”
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Fry, Ayala, Flint, Friend, Howson, Saville, Besic, Wing, Downing, Hugill
Used Subs: Marcus Tavernier, Adam Clayton, Danny Batth
Ipswich: Gerken, Spence, Pennington, Chambers, Kenlock, Chalobah, Nolan, Downes, Edwards, Sears, Jackson
Used Subs: Jordan Roberts, Andre Dozzell
Trainee Journalist at Teesside University, specialising in Sports.