GALLERY & MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 0 Norwich City 1
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich v Norwich: Another sloppy moment at the back ended up costing Ipswich Town dearly as cross-border rivals Norwich City departed Portman Road with a 1-0 victory.
The winning goal arrived in the 24th minute, the Blues half-clearing a corner, the ball nodded back into the box and Lewis Grabban left unchallenged to head home his fourth goal in three games. Whether Cole Skuse got a shout from Dean Gerken to leave the ball or not was unclear, but he simply let it sail over his head as the keeper stayed rooted to the spot.
It was the fourth goal in three games that Town – whose hallmark has been defensive organisation and solidity during former centre-back Mick McCarthy’s managerial reign – have gifted the opposition, following similarly poor goals conceded at Reading and Birmingham.
Replays suggested that Grabban may have been marginally offside, but Town can have absolutely no complaints about the result. Once again their lack of creativity and spark was painfully apparent and it was the Canaries – who temporarily go top of the league – who had the best chances.
With the East Anglian derby returning for the first time in over three years, City back in the Championship following a three season spell in the Premier League, the atmosphere in Portman Road – the attendance boosted to 25,454 – reached fever pitch ahead of kick-off.
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The game did not ignite in the way many expected though, with an injury to Ryan Bennett in the fifth minute – with a subsequent lengthy delay – followed by a cagey period in which neither team really tried to press the issue. A minor flash point between local lad Luke Hyam and Bradley Johnson aside, it was pretty tame stuff.
Then came the opening goal and suddenly Town had to ride the storm against a visiting side clearly a level above in terms of pace and quality on the ball. Ride it they did, with Alex Tettey testing Gerken and Kyle Lafferty not quite connecting with a cheeky back-heel attempt.
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Ipswich did finish the half well, David McGoldrick’s snapshot following a clever short free-kick routine fizzing just wide of the right-hand post, and they carried that into the start of the second period.
Their game-changing moment came five minutes after the restart when, following patient build-up, Daryl Murphy rose highest at the back stick to meet Jay Tabb’s cross only to head it the wrong side of the post. It was a golden chance and you got the feeling, deploying a pretty one-dimensional approach, that another was unlikely to arrive. And so proved to be the case.
With Michael Turner imperious at the back for the Canaries, the visiting side were a constant threat on the counter-attack and could, perhaps should, have killed the game off.
Three minutes after the Murphy chance, Grabban found himself one-one-one following Javier Garrido’s through ball. The ultra confident front man attempted a cheeky chip over advancing keeper Gerken, the ball floating over the bar.
He had two more golden chances around the hour mark too, an angled volley beaten away by Gerken followed by another one-on-cone opportunity. This time it was Bradley Johnson who put him clear, the first touch was heavy, but he still managed to round the keeper. The angle was tight and Tommy Smith was able to race back and comfortably clear off the line.
Ipswich continued to huff and puff but never really looked like getting an equaliser. Afterwards Norwich boss Neil Adams said his side fully deserved the win but are capable of playing much better. It rather summed up the home side’s display.
– Reaction to follow.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Mings; Anderson (Sammon 71), Skuse, Hyam (Bru 71), Tabb (Henshall 71); Murphy, McGoldrick.
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Parr, Hewitt, Bajner.
Booked: Skuse (27), Mings (82)
NORWICH CITY (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett (Garrido 7), Turner, Whittaker; Tettey, Johnson; Redmond, Hoolahan (O’Neil 82), Lafferty (E Bennett 53); Grabban.
Unused subs: Rudd, Cuellar, Jerome, Murphy.
Booked: Lafferty (36)
Attendance: 25,245 (2,064 away)
Referee: Keith Stroud