Burton Albion 1 Ipswich Town 2 – Varney own goal and Sears finish enough for victory
Ipswich Town endured a nervy finish, but were deserved 2-1 winners at fellow Championship strugglers Burton Albion this evening.
Ex-Blues striker Luke Varney scored an unfortunate own goal seven minutes after coming on at the break, with Freddie Sears doubling the lead at the second attempt in the 79th minute.
The impressive Myles Kenlock blotted his display by bundling over Varney for a penalty which Lucas Aitkens converted with four minutes to go and substitute Lasse Vigen Christensen’s deflected stoppage-time effort clipped the top of the bar as Town held on to restore their nine point gap to the relegation zone.
Following a scrappy start, the game opened up in the pouring rain. Cauley Woodrow didn’t get hold of a shot from a good position inside the box for the hosts, while at the other end keeper Jon McLaughlin was at full stretch to keep David McGoldrick’s low shot out the bottom corner.
The Blues started to get on top as McGoldrick fired over on the angle, Freddie Sears trod on the ball in a good position and Tom Lawrence lashed a shot well wide. Burton responded as Woodrow and Lloyd Dyer both saw efforts deflected behind for corners.
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Ipswich thought they had taken the lead in the 31st minute when Kenlock stuck out a foot to divert Ward’s low through a crowded box into the back of the net. Celebrations were cut short by a late linesman’s flag for offside though, replays showing it was a very tight call.
Moments later, with a driving Lawrence run again causing havoc, Sears blazed well over from a decent angled position inside the area.
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Burton continued to pose a threat themselves and had penalty appeals waved away when Dyer’s low cross appeared to strike Luke Chambers’ arm as he dived in to make a block.
The end-to-end action continued. The impressive Kenlock appeared from nowhere to make a superb clearing header at the near post ahead of Michael Kightly. Town countered quickly and John Brayford produced a fine recovery challenge on McGoldrick as looked to burst clear.
Mick McCarthy had started with a 4-2-3-1 system, but switched to three at the back not long before the interval. Ward moved from a No.10 role to right wing-back. Nigel Clough responded by bringing on ex-Blues forward Varney at the break and also switching to a 3-5-2 system.
Town broke the deadlock seven minutes after the restart thanks to Lawrence’s wicked whipped corner from the left. The unfortunate Varney diverted into his own net at the far post, although Chambers did his best to portray himself as the goalscorer with a dramatic sprint and celebration in front of the away fans.
It was a far more cagey second half. Ipswich had vociferous penalty appeals waved away in the 70th minute as McGoldrick appeared to be hauled down in the area by Brayford as the pair contested a Sears cross.
Town lived dangerously in the 75th minute as a corner was scrambled away. Four minutes later Kenlock clumsily fouled Varney in the area and Aitkens converted from the spot.
Blues sub Brett Pitman spurned a one-on-one chance to kill the game off as McLaughlin saved with his legs. Then, deep into four minutes of stoppage-time, Christensen’s long-range shot deflected onto the bar.
BURTON ALBION (4-4-1-1): McLaughlin; Flanagan, Mousinho (cpt), Turner, Brayford; Sordell (Varney 46), Murphy, Irvine, Dyer; Kightly (Christensen 80); Woodrow (Akins 80).
Unused subs: Bywater, McCrory, Naylor, Barker.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers (cpt), Berra, Kenlock; Skuse, Huws; Sears, Ward, Lawrence (Smith 90+); McGoldrick (Pitman 85).
Unused subs: Crowe, Emmanuel, Bru, Diagouraga, Samuel.
Referee: Oliver Langford