Groundhog day as Ipswich collapse in trademark spectacular fashion at Leeds
IT was groundhog day for Ipswich Town at Elland Road as they once again plucked defeat from the jaws of victory courtesy of numerous more defensive howlers.
The Blues produced a classic away display for the first 70 minutes, deservedly leading through Andy Drury’s fortuitous 34th minute strike – the ball squirming under home keeper Andy Lonergan’s body at the near post.
However, in trademark fashion, Paul Jewell’s men – from a position of complete comfort – then proceeded to collapse spectacularly in the last 20 minutes, with numerous individual errors once again their undoing.
Keeper Alex McCarthy was dismissed in the 71st minute after handling Ibrahima Sonko’s headed backpass a full three yards outside the area. It was a horror mix-up.
Leeds equalised three minutes later when Sonko inexplicably passed straight to opponent Robert Snodgrass inside his own area, the winger gleefully accepting the gift.
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The hosts took the lead in the 82nd minute when replacement keeper Arran Lee-Barrett – on for striker Jason Scotland – slipped when racing out to collect another routine ball over the top. Ross McCormack took advantage by toe-poking home.
And, just to rub salt in the wounds, a third was added in stoppage-time when Tommy Smith allowed a long punt from the keeper to bounce on the edge of his own penalty area allowing sub Luciano Becchio to force the ball home.
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Incredibly, Ipswich have now dropped 21 points from winning positions this season.
It was a classic away display from the Blues in the first half, Paul Jewell’s men defending superbly as a team while forging some good openings on the counter-attack.
With Luke Hyam and Andy Drury once again working hard in front of the back four, the out-of-form hosts were largely restricted to long balls over the top.
And when the ball did break for a home attacker, the Blues back four of Carlos Edwards, Ibrahima Sonko, Tommy Smith and Aaron Cresswell got their blocks in.
Ipswich created a good opening on the half hour when Jason Scotland’s clever reverse pass put Lee Martin in the clear. Keeper Lonergan saved at his feet, the ball ballooned back to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on the edge of the box but he blazed over the bar.
Four minutes later the visitors had broken the deadlock thanks to a howler from the home custodian.
Drury took a short corner to Martin on the left, received a return pass and dribbled to the angle of the area before letting fly with a low shot towards the near post. The ball did come through a slight crowd of players, but there was still no excuse for Lonergan letting it squeeze under his body.
And Town almost doubled their lead in first half stoppage-time when a trademark 25-yard strike from Emmanuel-Thomas clipped the angle of left-hand post and bar.
The half-time whistle brought loud jeers from the home crowd who protested against chairman Ken Bates outside the ground before the match.
Leeds continued to get any real foothold in the game after the break, with Town beginning to look increasingly comfortable.
That all changed in the 71st minute though when keeper Alex McCarthy – who’d already had a number of heart in mouth moments – was dismissed following a moment of madness.
A long ball over the top looked a routine one to defend, Sonko nodded it back but McCarthy had come racing off his line far too quickly and caught the ball a full three yards outside of his area.
A red card duly followed and Jewell was forced to replace striker Scotland with replacement keeper Arran Lee-Barrett.
Cue the Blues hitting the panic button in customary style.
Leeds equalised in the 74th minute thanks to a piece of comical defending – even by Town’s standards.
This time Sonko inexplicably passed the ball backwards inside his own area, under no pressure, straight to the feet of Snodgrass who gleefully fired home from six yards.
The home crowd were lifted, the visitors deflated, and you just knew a home winner was on its way.
It duly arrived in the 82nd minute, with it sadly coming as no surprise that another individual error was at the heart of the goal.
This time replacement keeper Arran Lee-Barrett lost his footing as he raced off his line to collect a chip over the top, allowing McCormack to toe-poke home.
LEEDS UTD: Lonergan; Lees, Thompson, O’Dea, Clayton, Townsend (White 59), Pugh, Delph, Snodgrass, Forssell (Becchio 59), McCormack.
Subs: Taylor, Bruce, Brown.
Booked: Becchio (65)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Edwards, Sonko, Smith, Cresswell; Drury, Hyam (Bullard 85); E-Thomas, Martin, Murphy (Chopra 83); Scotland (Lee-Barrett 72).
Subs: Delaney, Leadbitter.
Booked: Murphy (69), Hyam (76)
Referee: Mr G Eltringham