Gallery & report: Huddersfield Town 2 Ipswich Town 1
Huddersfield v Ipswich: Ipswich Town’s top-six hopes were dealt a major blow with a 2-1 defeat at previously out-of-form Huddersfield Town this afternoon.
Nahki Wells profited from a mistake by Zeki Fryers to give the Terriers a 13th minute lead before James Vaughan netted a fine header on the half hour as nervy play spread like wildfire through the Blues team.
Luke Varney’s 49th minute header gave Town a fantastic platform to push for a leveller but Mick McCarthy’s men – improved by the introduction of Teddy Bishop, Freddie Sears and Jonny Williams off the bench – pressed and probed without ever really threatening to find a breakthrough.
This was Huddersfield’s first win in eight matches and only their second victory in 12. With Bournemouth, Norwich, Watford and Derby all winning – and Brentford coming from two goals down to draw – it was a bad day at the office, Ipswich now two points adrift of sixth spot with five games to go. They could yet slip to eighth if Wolves beat Leeds in the tea-time kick-off.
Blues boss McCarthy made two changes to his starting line-up following the 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth three days earlier – striker Chris Wood and midfielder Richard Chaplow replaced Sears and Bishop respectively.
Huddersfield manager Chris Powell made just one alteration to his side – 48 hours after a gruelling 1-1 draw at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday – Oscar Gobern coming in for David Edgar in midfield.
Ipswich started on the front foot and had an effort cleared off the line as early as the third minute. Daryl Murphy won back possession in the attacking third through sheer perseverance, Chaplow’s cross was met by the stretching Jay Tabb at the far post and, with the ball all set to creep over the line, Terriers defender Tommy Smith producing a lunging goalline block.
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A forgettable 10 minutes followed before the Blues gifted their hosts the lead. Fryers attempted to dribble the ball past Sean Scannell, thought better of it, got the ball stuck under his feet and ended up stabbing the ball backwards – straight into the path of Wells. The Terriers man still had a bit to do, driving to the edge of the box and bending a low shot into the bottom left corner.
You could see the all-important first goal give confidence to Huddersfield and the nerves and edginess spread among the Ipswich players. It was a recipe for disaster.
Christophe Berra got the ball trapped under his feet in a dangerous area in the 20th minute before eventually clearing. Moments later, there were huge penalty shouts from the home crowd after Scannell beat Fryers in the box before dramatically hitting the deck.
Vaughan, left completely unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, couldn’t quite connect with a spectacular overhead kick attempt as the home side continued to attack.
Then, out of nowhere, Ipswich had another attempt cleared off the line. After Varney helped on a long ball, Murphy rounded keeper Alex Smithies only to see his effort – from an acute angle – hacked away by that man Tommy Smith.
Huddersfield’s second arrived on the half an hour mark. Not for the first time in the game, the Terriers – employing their usual 3-5-2 system – had acres of space in the middle of the park thanks to Town having stuck with a 4-4-2 formation.
Jacob Butterfield had time to turn and deliver a fine, dinked ball into the area from deep and Vaughan, with a snap of the neck, powerfully and accurately headed the ball back across Bartosz Bialkowski and into the far corner of the net.
Ipswich were suddenly at sixes and sevens, the edginess of Fryers and Berra spreading throughout the team.
Berra was booked when he barged into Scannell, after Fryers failed to come and meet a pass, then Town just about hacked away Smith’s low cross from the right after Scannell’s direct running once again gave Fryers a torrid time.
The half ended with Varney just about getting away with a poor back pass and Ipswich’s Tommy Smith booked for a cynical block on Vaughan.
McCarthy responded by bringing on Bishop and Sears for Chaplow and Wood at half-time. An early goal was required and that’s exactly what Ipswich got.
Within three minutes of the restart, Tabb worked himself half a yard of room out on the left and delivered a fine cross which Varney headed home with aplomb.
The goal did little to cure Town’s shakiness at the back though. Wells tricked his way past both Smith and Fryers far too easily and had a shot which Bialkowksi turned around the post with his legs. From the resultant corner, Bialkowski produced a breathtaking double stop – first beating away Mark Hudson’s powerful drive through the crowd and then quickly getting up to keep out Vaughan’s well-hit follow-up attempt.
Slowly but surely Town – benefitting from Bishop’s ability to put his foot on the ball – began to find a foothold in the game. Sensing the match was turning in his side’s favour, McCarthy brought on Jonny Williams – the returning Crystal Palace loanee making his first appearance following five months out with a groin injury – for Tabb in the 67th minute.
Ipswich – with tricky trio of Williams, Bishop and Sears all on the pitch – began to have more and more of possession, passing and probing in the final third without finding a final pass. All the while, Huddersfield continued to pose a threat on the counter.
Williams’ deep free-kick into the area was poor. Sears was caught offside cheaply. Another 10 minutes passed without Ipswich troubling the home side’s goal.
Finally, in the 88th minute, a half chance arrived when Tommy Smith curled wide after a deep free-kick was cleared and Sears drove to the by-line.
Huddersfield saw out the four minutes of stoppage-time comfortably though, running down the clock with substitutions and clever play.
Ultimately, Ipswich got nothing and deserved nothing.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (3-5-2): Smithies; Lynch, Hudson, Smith; Scannell (Wallace 90+), Gobern, Coady, Butterfield, James; Vaughan (Lolley 90+), Wells (Edgar 83).
Unused subs: Allinson, Holmes, Carroll, Majewski.
Booked: Vaughan (90+).
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Fryers; Varney, Chaplow (Bishop 46), Skuse, Tabb (Williams 67); Wood (Sears 46), Murphy.
Unused subs: Gerken, Clarke, S.Hunt, Anderson.
Booked: Berra (36), Smith (42).
Referee: Tony Harrington.