Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich Town: Two Abraham goals and two big penalty decisions cost Blues
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A late rally wasn’t enough to prevent Ipswich Town from falling to another away defeat as they lost 2-1 at Aston Villa this afternoon.
It looked as if the game was up as Tammy Abraham’s brace had the hosts two goals to the good and seemingly coasting to victory, before Freddie Sears’ superb driving effort gave Ipswich real hope.
Ipswich tails were up as they pushed for an equaliser, which never came, but the Blues will leave Villa Park feeling aggrieved by two big refereeing decisions.
The Villa second came after Josh McGinn had flung himself across Alan Judge as a deep corner drifted out of danger, prompting referee Keith Stroud to point to the spot. The Blues then had a penalty appeal of their own waved away, after Collin Quaner had rounded the goalkeeper and seemingly had his goalbound shot blocked on the line by the hand of Tommy Elphick.
Paul Lambert and his men will feel hard done by, but this was a 14th-successive Championship away game in which they had conceded two or more goals. That was an uphill battle the Blues were always unlikely to win after slipping two behind today.
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Rotherham let a one-goal lead slip at home to Leeds, meaning the gap to safety has grown to eight points, with neither Bolton or Reading in action today due to the FA Cup. They play each other in the league on Tuesday.
Lambert made three changes to his Ipswich side for this game, bringing goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski back for his first start in nearly two months and also restoring Myles Kenlock and Flynn Downes to the starting XI in place of Callum Elder and Collin Quaner.
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But the Blues had little time to settle into their groove before Bialkowski was picking the ball out of his net, after Conor Hourihane’s expert free-kick delivery, following a foul by Trevoh Chalobah, was turned home by Abraham.
The visitors’ first effort was a tame one, as Alan Judge sent a trundled effort towards goal, before the Blues had to settle into a spell of defending which saw the visitors have to deal with balls into the box and pressure from the flanks.
Bialkowski was forced into a string of saves, including a Abraham effort which he spilled and gathered at the second attempt and a driven John McGinn effort which the Pole did well to parry.
The deficit remained at one heading into the break, with the second half beginning with Bialkowski spilling an Abraham head before looking up gratefully to see the ball hacked away by James Collins.
The big Welshman then presented the ball straight to Anwar El Ghazi, before the winger fired over the top from the edge of the box, with McGinn then poking over the top following a stabbed pass from Alan Hutton.
There was always a sense that the second goal was coming and, when it finally did, it was from a familiar source.
When Judge eased McGinn to the ground just after the hour mark, referee Keith Stroud’s decision to point to the spot was the fourth time in five league games the Blues had given away a penalty. The previous four had all been scored and this one, taken by Abraham, was no different as he sent Bialkowski the wrong way.
Lambert’s response was to throw on striker Quaner, with the German soon scampering in behind to latch onto a Freddie Sears ball before he was crowded out.
The on-loan Huddersfield striker’s big moment came soon after, as he latched onto another through ball and skipped round goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, but his goalbound shot was blocked en route to goal, with the Ipswich players and bench convinced Tommy Elphick had used his arm to stop it reaching the net.
Quaner’s presence was crucial as Ipswich worked their way into position soon after but, when it looked like the chance was gone, Sears was there to fire back a rocket of a shot which found the top corner and gave the Blues hope.
The visiting fans were up, the home crowd were nervous, and the game was inches away from being tied when Chalobah connected with Judge’s cross and flicked his header away off the post.
No equaliser came, as the Blues fell to defeat on the road once again.
Aston Villa: Kalinic; Hutton, Chester, Elphick, Taylor; Whelan (Kodjia 78), McGinn, Hourihane; El Ghazi (El Ghazi 85), Adomah (Elmohamady 68); Abraham
Subs: Steer, Hause, Davis, O’Hare
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Pennington, Collins, Chambers, Kenlock; Downes, Skuse, Chalobah (Jackson 90+); Judge, Sears, Keane (Quaner 61)
Subs: Gerken; Nsiala, Elder, Bishop, Nolan