Hull City 0-1 Ipswich Town: Norwood wins it as Blues produce their best to beat Tigers
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Ipswich Town produced their best performance of the season as they claimed an impressive victory away at promotion-chasing Hull.
The Blues, who have an abysmal record against the best sides in the division over the last two seasons, put in one of their best displays of the campaign to date on a night where James Norwood’s 15th-minute strike was enough to secure three vital points.
Paul Lambert’s men were on top for almost the entirety of the first half and had chances to stretch their lead, while also having openings after the break but hanging on to win.
They played with control, measure and structure as they kept the ball well, showed plenty of energy and defended manfully when their hosts, who sat third heading into the game, did have threatening moments.
Victory moves Lambert’s men up to 10th, sitting five points off the play-offs with a game in hand on sixth-placed Doncaster, who visit Portman Road on Saturday.
Despite some worries over whether the likes of James Norwood, Teddy Bishop and Keanan Bennetts would be ready to go again just three days later, manager Paul Lambert named an unchanged side following Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Oxford.
That meant Toto Nsiala and James Wilson continued in the heart of defence, with Bishop once again joining Andre Dozzell in midfield as Flynn Downes served the final game of a two-match ban picked up following his read card against Northampton.
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Gwion Edwards, who missed the two 0-0 draws last week through injury, returned to the bench.
The hosts started with former Town players Josh Emmanuel and Callum Elder at full-back, with leading score Mallik Wilks switching to a central striking role as Northern Ireland international Josh Magennis dropped to the bench.
The Blues had the better of the opening 10 minutes, keeping the ball in tight areas but not managing to connect with the strikeforce of Norwood and Troy Parrott in dangerous areas. The most dangerous period came as a superb touch allowed Norwood to bring a Myles Kenlock cross down out of the sky, before winning a free-kick wide on the right, but Alan Judge’s delivery was ultimately cleared.
But their dominance was soon rewarded when Kenlock launched a beautiful cross-field ball which took the Hull centre-halves out of play, allowing Norwood to wait for the ball to sit up perfectly and slot past Matt Ingram in the Hull goal.
It was no more than Town deserved and it could easily have been 2-0 just 10 minutes later, when Dozzell broke through the middle and slipped Parrott away down the right flank. Sadly the Tottenham loanee wasn’t able to pick out a screaming Norwood in the middle, as the Tottenham loanee held his pass too long and was crowded out.
Town were well on top of this game but had an almighty let-off on 30 minutes, when Dozzell sliced a dangerous Elder corner back into danger inside the box, before Keane Lewis-Potter somehow managed to shoot wide from eight yards out.
Parrott had another chance to break forward when Hull skipper George Honeyman inextricably presented the ball straight to the loanee from a free-kick, but the teenager overhit his pass when eventually trying to slide Bennetts in having covered 40 yards.
Bennetts was the next to threaten and really should have had a shot after tricking his way past Elder into the box, before crossing into traffic, before the Blues survived penalty appeals ahead of half-time when Wilks hit the deck under pressure from a number of Town players.
The hosts introduced Magennis at the break, mixing up their route forward, with the switch putting them on the front foot early as Lewis-Potter's shot from the edge of the box deflected behind off Wilson.
Town reclaimed their upper hand in this game and worked the ball dangerously around the edge of the Hull area before Norwood received treatment but managed to continue. He could have made it 2-0 on 64 minutes when, after Bennetts had won possession back in a dangerous area, the former Tranmere man fired his shot wide from the edge of the box.
He shot over the top again on 67, following a good passage of play down the Town left, before Wilks fired wide from the angle as Town were stretched on a rare occasion of Hull pressure.
Parrott had a chance snuffed out for a corner after good hold-up play from Norwood, before substitute Gwion Edwards survived penalty appeals after Lewis-Porter fell to the floor in the area.
Norwood’s night ended on 82 minutes, as he again received treatment prior to his departure, but walked off the field under his own steam following an impressive display.
But the Blues managed to see it out and could even have doubled their lead, had Bennetts converted after being put through by Harrop in stoppage time.
Hull City: Ingram, Emmanuel, Burke, Greaves, Elder; Honeyman, Crowley (Magennuis, 46), Docherty; Lewis-Potter, Whyte (Jones, 46), Wilks (Scott, 90)
Subs: Long, Coyle, Flores, Slater
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Wilson, Nsiala, Kenlock; Dozzell, Bishop, Judge (Edwards, 69), Bennetts; Parrott (Harrop, 90), Norwood (Drinan, 82)
Subs: Cornell, Ward, Matheson, Sears