Gallery & report: Ipswich Town 2 Wolves 1 – Murphy scores twice on a superb night for the Blues

Daryl Murphy dinks the ball over Carl Ikeme to make it 2-1 to Ipswich Town. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Daryl Murphy dinks the ball over Carl Ikeme to make it 2-1 to Ipswich Town. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Wolves: Daryl Murphy scored twice, continuing his incredible goalscoring run, as Ipswich Town delighted the Portman Road crowd with a superb 2-1 home win over Wolves.

Murphy opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a fine curling effort and then, after James Henry’s fortuitous equaliser soon after the restart (53), he produced a deft chip over on-rushing keeper Carl Ikeme to win it (59).

Ten goals for the season makes him the Championship’s joint-leading top-scorer, nine of those goals having come in his last 11 matches. It’s a remarkable return for a striker whose career goal ratio was 0.1 per game prior to joining the Blues permanently in the summer of 2013.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy celebrated his 100th game in charge with another victory over his former club. The result lifts the Blues to fifth in the Championship table, the Suffolk side leapfrogging bitter rivals Norwich City following their 4-0 loss at Middlesbrough.

It was only the second time in 14 matches that high-flying Wolves had suffered defeat, Kenny Jackett’s side simply unable to deal with Town’s high-tempo pressing and quick movement of the ball.

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You’d never have thought that Town were without five key players through injury, this result and performance leaving fans daring to dream.

McCarthy made two enforced changes to his side following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Blackpool – Kevin Bru, fit again after injury, and Jay Tabb replaced Teddy Bishop and Cole Skuse in the midfield. The latter two had been forced off the field with groin problems at Bloomfield Road.

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Once again, Dean Gerken, Jonathan Parr (both groin) and Jonny Williams (ankle) all missed out. Elliott Hewitt – recalled from his loan spell at Colchester United – was named on the bench.

Wolves boss Kenny Jackett made two changes to his side following Saturday’s goalless home draw with Birmingham. Dave Edwards and Bakary Sako, both rested with this game in mind, replaced by Michael Jacobs and Liam McAlinden.

Town started on the front foot, closing down all over the park when they didn’t have the ball and moving it around quickly when they were in possession. It set the tone for the rest of an utterly dominant and impressive opening 45 minutes from the hosts.

Murphy’s angled drive stung the palms of keeper Carl Ikeme in the second minute after David McGoldrick had pounced on Matt Doherty’s slip. Moments later, Stephen Hunt – buzzing about all over the pitch – produced a good run and cross which was just about scrambled clear after getting stuck under Murphy’s feet on the penalty spot.

Wolves simply couldn’t cope with the constant hassling and harrying. Twice keeper Ikeme had to be quick off his line to clear up, on both occasions nervously slicing the ball high onto the roof of the Co-op Stand.

Ikeme then had a real heart in mouth moment, dropping Bru’s deep ball into the box straight at the feet of McGoldrick. For a split second it looked as though the Town striker simply had to prod the loose ball home from close range, but defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell stuck out a boot to deflect it just the wrong side of the post.

Murphy was the man who was epitomisng Town’s energy and high octane tempo. The Irish striker twice raced the length of the pitch to make important defensive interventions, first making up for his own mistake in the middle of the park by producing a fine slide tackle on Sako in the box and then, moments later, sprinting back to the left-back position to shrug Doherty off the ball.

Ipswich weren’t just good off the ball though, they were impressive on it. One slick piece of one-touch passing involving Bru, McGoldrick, Hunt and Jay Tabb almost ended in a sublime team goal, but Tabb – on the stretch – couldn’t quite convert at the end of the move.

Luke Hyam was booked for a foul in the 26th minute, his fifth yellow card of the season meaning he’ll be suspended for Saturday’s visit of Watford. Shortly afterwards, Tommy Smith produced a fine block on Sako in the box.

It remained all one-way traffic though and the crowd sensed that a breakthrough wasn’t far away.

It finally arrived in the 35th minute, Murphy on top of the dallying Kevin McDonald quick as a flash, robbing him of possession from the blind side and spinning inside the right side of the box to curl a cultured finish past the despairing dive of Ikeme.

It was the least the Blues deserved and they could have doubled their advantage before the break. Smith sent a powerful header from Hunt’s corner just over the bar in the 43rd minute while, in stoppage-time, a clever free-kick routine saw McGoldrick’s low attempt held down low by Ikeme.

The players left the pitch to rapturous applause.

Wolves were level eight minutes after the restart, Henry’s inswinging cross from the right evading everyone in the box, bouncing before finding the inside of the far side-netting. It was the visiting side’s first ‘shot’ on target.

Instead of looking deflated, Town seemed even more fired up following a perceived sense of injustice.

Within minutes it required a brave block from Batth in the box to deny Berra’s thundering drive after Tyrone Mings’ rampaging run and low cross had caused havoc.

At the other end there was a let off, Sako’s raking ball over the top evading Berra only to be poked wide by the stretching Leon Clarke.

It was another mistake which led to Town getting their noses in front again, this time midfielder Lee Evans gifting the ball to McGoldrick with a sideways pass in the middle of the pitch. The Town front man was quick to pick out unmarked strike partner Murphy with a through ball, the Irishman dinking the ball over the on-rushing Ikeme with supreme confidence.

It didn’t seem possible that the tempo of the action could remain so high, but it did.

Town were left breathing a sigh of relief after a lapse in concentration led to Doherty firing a shot across the face of goal. At the other end, another powerful run and low cross by Mings almost resulted in a fortuitous goal. Ebanks-Landell’s attempted clearance cannoned off team-mate Batth and looped just beyond the far post.

Hunt was subbed to a standing ovation in the 76th minute. For the second time in four days the 32-year-old had put in an incredible shift.

Having seen his side drop several points from winning positions recently, Blues boss McCarthy was heard hollaring at his players constantly throughout the closing stages. There were a couple of minor scares during four minutes of stoppage-time, but the Blues held to claim a fully deserved victory.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Bialkoswki; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Mings; Bru, Hyam, Tabb (Ambrose 79); Murphy, McGoldrick (Sammon 90), Hunt (Anderson 76).

Unused Subs: Crowe, Hewitt, Henhsall, Bajner, Sammon.

Booked: Hyam (26).

WOLVES (4-3-3): Ikeme; Doherty, Batth (cpt), Ebanks-Landell, Rowe; McDonald, Evans, Edwards (Jacobs 14, McAlinden 79); Henry (van La Parra 82), Clarke, Sako.

Unused Subs: Kuszczak, Stearman, Saville, Ricketts.

Booked: Doherty (30).

Attendance: 17,267 (948 away).

Referee: Andrew Madley.

Conditions: Cold and dry.

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