Gallery/poll: Ipswich Town 1 Watford 0 – Smith scores an 83rd minute winner as Blues go fourth

Ipswich Town players celebrate following Tommy Smith's 83rd minute winner. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich Town players celebrate following Tommy Smith's 83rd minute winner. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Watford: Tommy Smith scored an 83rd minute winner as Ipswich Town beat fellow high-fliers Watford to move up to fourth in the Championship table.

An entertaining match, in which the hosts passed confidently but Watford were a real threat on the counter-attack, was on a knife’s edge throughout.

And it was Ipswich who were the team able to find a late breakthrough, Smith lashing home from close-range after Kevin Bru’s shot into a crowded area was blocked.

Mick McCarthy’s men leapfrog the Hornets in the table. They have now lost just once in 13, claimed three successive wins in eight days and are two points off table-toppers Derby. Next up, following next weekend’s international break, is a trip to second-place Bournemouth.

A real contrast in styles made for an intriguing opening period. Ipswich zipped the ball about with supreme confidence at times, always looking to ask questions of their high-flying visitors, but Watford – with their dynamic front three of Matej Vydra, Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri – were a constant threat on the counter-attack.

Following a frenetic start, both keepers made excellent saves. First, Bartosz Bialkowski had to be quick off his line to block at the feet of Gianni Munari after the Hornets had broken with pace following a Jay Tabb error. At the other end, Heurelho Gomes did superbly to tip over Daryl Murphy’s close-range volley following Luke Chambers’ teasing cross.

Town may have enjoyed the better possession, playing some neat one-touch football at times, but the Hornets had the better chances on the break. Chambers made no fewer than five important blocks or interceptions in the opening 45 minutes, with Tabb and Tyrone Mings also stepping in at the nick of time.

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It was a similar story at the start of the second period, Deeney firing over at the end of another rapid counter and Jonny Williams dragging a shot wide following patient build-up.

Town then gradually began to get more of a grip on the game, Juan Carlos Paredes blocking an angled Stephen Hunt effort after good work by David McGoldrick before Joel Ekstrand blocked McGoldrick’s near post effort after Daryl Murphy’s cut-back.

Mick McCarthy was forced into subbing Jonny Williams just after the hour mark. The Crystal Palace loanee, only just fit again, was on the receiving end of several fouls, Ekstrand’s badly-timed slide tackle ending his match.

Ipswich were looking the more dangerous going forwards, Hunt lobbing an effort onto the roof of the net, but Watford issued a reminder of their threat on the counter when Forestieri – under pressure by Smith – fired over from close-range following Tozser’s raking pass over the top and Vydra’s dangerous cut-back.

Watford had conceded several fouls and they were finally punished from one in the 83rd minute. Hunt’s inventive low free-kick from the right was prodded backwards by McGoldrick, Kevin Bru’s shot into the crowd was blocked and Smith was there to lash home. Gomes got a touch, but the attempt was too powerful.

There were six minutes of added on time at the end, Gomes having received treatment for a lengthy spell in the second half, but Town remained calm in possession and defended well when they had to, Bialkoswki saving well from Munari at the death.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Mings; Bru, Tabb, Williams (Bishop 61); Hunt, McGoldrick (Sammon 90+), Murphy.

Unused subs: Crowe, Parr, Ambrose, Anderson, Bajner.

Booked: McGoldrick (43).

WATFORD (4-3-3): Gomes; Paredes, Ekstrand, Bassong, Pudil; Munari, Tozser, Andrews (Murray 86); Vydra, Deeney (cpt), Forestieri (Ighalo 74).

Unused subs: Bond, Doyley, Cathcart, McGugan, Dyer.

Booked: Paredes (33), Ekstrand (58), Munari (75).

Attendance: 22,490 (1,583 away).

Referee: Eddie Ilderton.

Conditions: Cool and breezy.

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