Ipswich Town 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Late heartbreak for Blues as Joao wins scrappy affair
PUBLISHED: 16:53 02 February 2019 | UPDATED: 20:24 02 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town's resistence was broken in the dying minutes as Lucas Joao's goal settled a scrappy affair for the Owls.
The visitors will leave feeling as if they deserved their victory over the course of the 90 minutes, despite far from dominating the contest, given they stretched a makeshift Ipswich defence lacking the leadership of both Luke Chambers and James Collins due to injury.
But it required a late Joao goal for them to take the three points in Steve Bruce’s first game in charge, with the Portuguese’s effort coming against the run of play at a time when the Blues were pushing for a winner themselves.
Fernando Forestieri missed a string of good chances, some due to lapses in concentration at the back, while Bartosz Bialkowski needed to make two good first-half saves to keep things level.
The Blues struggled for invention during much of this contest but, following the late introduction of Will Keane, they had a real go but ultimately left pointless.
Rotherham and Reading both picked up points this afternoon, meaning the gap to safety has grown to eight points. The Blues have an inferior goal difference, too, with 16 games remaining.
Next up is a visit to Carrow Road to take on rivals Norwich City.
There was a shock when the team sheets were released at 2pm, with neither Chambers’ or Collins’ name appearing due to injury, forcing Lambert into changes.
He made four in total, with James Bree coming in for a debut alongside Toto Nsiala in defence, while Teddy Bishop and Collin Quaner replaced Trevoh Chalobah and Will Keane in the more advanced areas.
The Blues’ makeshift defence was under pressure early, but it was the hosts who had the first chance as Pennington connected with a Judge cross.
Bartosz Bialkowski was the first goalkeeper forced into action, as he spread himself to block Steven Fletcher’s shot with his legs following a raking Michael Hector pass, before Nsiala superbly blocked Barry Bannan’s follow-up.
Teddy Bishop was the Blues’ driving force as he looked to pick the ball up in midfield and drive through midfield, but his efforts didn’t always find team-mates on the same wavelength.
The visitors should really have been ahead when Reach somehow skied Morgan Fox’s scuffed shot over the bar from five yards out, before Fernando Forestieri headed a cross over the bar when given the freedom of the Ipswich penalty area.
The Italian had a shot beaten away by Bialkowski with the final chance of a first half the visitors probably deserved to lead after, but it was all-square at the break.
The start of the second period was just as scrappy as the first, but as the minutes ticked on the home crowd found their voice as they sensed there may be something in this game for their side.
That chance was nearly taken away when Nsiala went to sleep and allowed a ball to trickle in behind, only for Forestieri to lash his shot over the top of the bar.
Forestieri squandered another opportunity as he failed to capitalise on a mix-up between Cole Skuse and Nsiala, before another opportunity came and went for the Italian after he was threaded through from deep.
The Blues were struggling to create chance of their own but did fashion an opportunity when a flick from Skuse and a good touch from Keane opened things up for Alan Judge, but the Irishman could only fire over the top.
Substitute Trevoh Chalobah had a header saved from a Judge corner as Ipswich pushed for a winner, which ultimately didn’t come.
It was the Owls who did find the winner, though as Reach stole in behind Myles Kenlock and squared the ball for Joao, who finished past Bialkowski.
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Bree, Pennington, Nsiala, Kenlock; Downes (Harrison 90), Skuse, Bishop (Chalobah 74); Judge, Sears, Quaner (Keane 55)
Subs: Gerken; Emmanuel, Nolan, Dozzell
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hector, Fox; Hutchinson, Bannan, Reach; Forestieri (Aarons 86), Boyd (Onomah 65), Fletcher (Joao 72)
Subs: Dawson; Aarons, Pelupessy, Thorniley, Nuhiu
Att: 16,888 (1,713)