FULL-TIME: Town lose at in-form Reading, despite impressive display
IPSWICH Town went down 1-0 at Reading on New Year’s Eve – but they can take a lot of positives from an impressive display at the division’s in-form side.
Centre-back Alex Pearce headed home the winner in the 64th minute from Jobi McAnuff’s crossed free-kick.
Up until that moment though, Town had provided a workmanlike and disciplined display off the ball, while providing plenty of fluidity and energy in attack.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors though who, despite continuing to battle hard, tired in the closing stages.
– Reaction to follow.
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WITH the home fans in vocal mood following three impressive back-to-back victories at the Madejski Stadium, Reading came flying out of the traps.
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Damien Delaney looked uncertain when putting an early cross off for a corner, while a series of flag kicks eventually ended with Kaspars Gorkss heading straight at keeper Arran Lee-Barrett.
The Royals front two of Simon Church and Adam Le Fondre were looking a real handful, but the Blues gradually grew in to the game.
With Daryl Murphy looking particularly lively, Town began to play the ball around with a confidence not seen for a number of weeks and forced a number of corners themselves.
Delaney headed one down dangerously at the far post as the visitors began to grow in confidence.
Emmanuel-Thomas – afforded a free role up top – fizzed a trademark shot narrowly over the bar from 25 yards, Michael Chopra steered a low effort just past the far post soon afterwards, while Aaron Cresswell came inches away from a glorious long-range goal.
All of the aforementioned action came during an encouraging four minute spell for Paul Jewell’s men.
The Blues were playing with same discipline seen at Leicester five days earlier, breaking up play in the middle and displaying plenty of fluidity when in possession.
Reading did provide the odd reminder of their goal threat, with Job McAnuff providing some dangerous crosses down the right.
However, it was Town who looked the more likely to score before the break, with Emmanuel-Thomas – right in front of goal, but on the stretch – unable to get quite enough contact on Murphy’s deflected cross.
TOWN started the second half in positive mood, with Emmanuel-Thomas almost putting Lee Martin through on goal with a flick and later feeding Chopra who guided a low shot across the face of goal.
The fact that the home crowd were beginning to vent their frustrations towards the referee was a complement to how well the Blues were playing.
The Royals’ opener in the 64th minute therefore came against the run of play. Lee Bowyer was penalised for handball in the left-back position, McAnuff swung the free-kick to the far post and centre-back Alex Pearce timed his run excellently to head down low into the net.
It was the young defender’s second goal in as many games against Ipswich and the third set-piece the Blues had conceded over those two matches.
The goal gave added impetuous to Reading who, up until that moment, hadn’t really looked like scoring.
Town continued to battle, but the it was the home side – who have now won six of their last seven – that looked more likely to score come the end of the match.
GRANT Leadbitter and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas replaced injured duo Keith Andrews and Jason Scotland in the Ipswich Town line-up.
Both Andrews and Scotland picked up hamstring injuries during the 1-1 draw at Leicester on Boxing Day.
It meant Leadbitter returned to the team for the first time since he picked up a groin injury during the Blues’ 3-2 defeat at home to the Royals last month. He also regained the captaincy.
Reading – who won five of their previous last six going into the game – were unchanged following their convincing 3-0 home win over Brighton on Monday.
READING (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Griffin; Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 86), Karacan (Tabb 90), McAnuff (cpt); Church, Le Fondre (Hunt 62).
Subs: Harte, Anderson.
IPSWICH (4-4-2): Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Sonko, Delaney, Cresswell; Martin (Carson 72), Leadbitter (cpt) (Bullard 86), Bowyer, Murphy; Chopra (Ellington 72), Emmanuel-Thomas.
Subs: Wright; Wabara.
Referee: Mr J Waugh.