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Middlesbrough book place in Carabao Cup semi-final draw with win over Port Vale

Boro had not reached a domestic cup semi final for 17 years

Nick Mashiter
Tuesday 19 December 2023 22:39 GMT
Middlesbrough’s Jonny Howson opened the scoring at Port Vale (Nick Potts/PA)
Middlesbrough’s Jonny Howson opened the scoring at Port Vale (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

Middlesbrough cruised into the Carabao Cup semi-finals after breezing past Port Vale 3-0.

Jonny Howson, Morgan Rogers and Matt Crooks fired the 2004 winners in to the last four with a comfortable win at Vale Park.

Boro had not made a major domestic semi-final since losing to West Ham in the last four of the FA Cup in 2006.

Vale’s big night – their first League Cup quarter-final – was ruined by the incisive and efficient visitors within 23 minutes.

Gavin Massey missed the hosts’ best chance but Boro boss Michael Carrick, a two-time winner with Manchester United, ultimately navigated a tricky tie with ease given their injury problems.

So depleted were the visitors that Carrick named four substitutes without a senior appearance, including 17-year-old Law McCabe, but it was the experienced Howson who fired them ahead after 11 minutes.

Boro had threatened through the middle and the midfielder was able to easily find space. With defenders giving him time, the 35-year-old needed no second invitation and his 25-yard shot clipped Jason Lowe to loop over Connor Ripley.

Missing 10 players due to injury and resting Rav van den Berg, with an eye on their bid to stay in touch with the Championship’s play-off pack, the visitors had a platform.

Ethan Chislett curled an early free kick over and plucky Vale – 15th in League One – had nothing to lose, only for a second Boro goal after 23 minutes to seal the game.

Again, it was a simple build up with Sam Silvera winning the ball on the right and he kept his composure to pick out Rogers on the edge of the box.

The former Manchester City forward was left completely unmarked to stroke a fine low finish into the corner – his fourth goal of the competition.

Yet, far from shrinking, Vale kept going and should have pulled a goal back three minutes later only for a stretching Massey to lift over from close range.

Boro should have been out of sight just before the break when Crooks shot over but it was just a warning as the midfielder struck eight minutes into the second half when he barged his way through and drilled into the bottom corner.

Worse was to follow for the hosts when Oliver Arblaster was carried off with a serious leg injury just before the hour.

It sucked the life out Vale and, from then, Boro were happy to see the game out and Ripley denied Calum Kavanagh a debut goal when the visitors threatened a late fourth.

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