Improved performance but Town throw away two-goal lead to draw with Blackpool
IPSWICH Town put in one of their best performances of the season – but still threw away a two-goal lead to draw at home to Blackpool.
Depleted by injuries and devoid of many of his big names, Paul Jewell’s youngest side of the season took the lead after nine minutes through an own goal by Angel Martinez.
And they deservedly doubled their advantage when Tommy Smith nodded in a second after the break.
But goals from subs Elliot Grandin and Kevin Phillips in the final 25 minutes drew Blackpool level before Lee Martin missed a golden chance at the death to win it.
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An own goal from Angel Martinez gave Ipswich the lead after nine minutes but despite the slightly fortunate nature of the opener, Town dominated the first 45 minutes.
It might have been their most inexperienced line-up of the season, but this Town side were playing with passion, commitment and no shortage of verve.
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From the first whistle they got at Blackpool and they should have scored after two minutes but Lee Martin’s low cross was woefully too strong for the waiting Jason Scotland.
But it didn’t take long before Ipswich broke the deadlock. Scotland flicked on Tommy Smith’s hopeful long ball to release Martin down the left and his low cross was diverted into his own goal by Martinez.
Blackpool were shell-shocked and the home side continued to press. They almost doubled their advantage in the 25th minute when Aaron Cresswell exchanged passes with Jason Scotland before finding the onrushing Josh Carson.
Keeper Mark Howard was in no man’s land but Carson’s cut lob just missed the far post from an acute angle.
Town had the better of the half chances but Blackpool almost equalised when Stephen Crainey’s first-time volleyed cross caught the Town defence napping but Lomana Lua Lua failed to make a clean contact and his shot went wide.
An impressive first half was almost capped by a perfect finale when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas mesmerised his way into the box but his low cross was turned wide as Martin waited to pounce.
Town almost doubled their lead minutes after the break when great work by Jason Scotland released Lee Martin in the box but he shot into the side netting.
But on the hour mark, the second goal duly arrived. Great skill by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas saw his low cross diverted into the path of Andy Drury and he had the presence of mind to pick out Tommy Smith who headed home.
Blackpool slowly started exerting pressure and Town’s defence began to look creaky,
Matt Phillips twice broke clear but good pressure from Tommy Smith and then Carlos Edwards ensured the confident frontman could not hit the target.
But it was a different story in the 65th minute when sub Kevin Phillips saw his close range header well saved by Alex McCarthy but Elliot Grandin gobbled up the rebound.
Town were now looking shaky at the back although Josh Carson’s deflected shot almost found a way past Mark Howard.
Both sides had shouts for a penalty before Blackpool equalised 10 minutes from time.
Town’s defence was caught cold by Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s through-ball and Phillips, down the inside right channel, fired low past McCarthy.
It was a body blow for the Blues and many fans would have been fearing the worst, even though Town retained their attacking threat.
Sub Tamas Priskin, who came on for injured Jason Scotland, felt he was fouled in the box by Alex Baptiste before Phillips burst clear again but McCarthy blocked with his body.
But Ipswich could have walked away with the three points they richly deserved in the final minute when Aaron Cresswell’s deep cross fell perfectly at Martin’s feet but the ball got caught under his feet and the chance went.
Moments later, the final whistle blew and the home fans rightly applauded a brave effort from the men in blue rather than reflect on the dire run continuing. It’s now two wins from 15 matches.
LUKE Hyam and Andy Drury will form an inexperienced central midfield duo for today’s vital clash at home to Blackpool.
And Paul Jewell has thrown other surprises by dropping Daryl Murphy completely, Josh Carson starts on the wing, and bringing back Tamas Priskin on the bench in place of Nathan Ellington.
Jimmy Bullard returns to the bench after Jewell admitted yesterday he was reluctant to start the midfielder as he continues his slow recovery from flu.
Town’s starting 11 have an average age of just under 25 in a season where Jewell has been criticised for his ‘Dad’s Army’ approach.
It will be interesting to see whether Jewell starts with a 4-4-2 formation or drops JET back onto the wing with Hyam just in front of the back four in a 4-1-4-1.
Blackpool will start in a 4-3-3 formation with the dangerous and quick trio of Matt Phillips, former Colchester United star Lomana Lua Lua and Thomas Ince upfront.
Ipswich Town: McCarthy; Edwards, Sonko, Smith, Cresswell; Martin, Hyam, Drury, Carson; JET, Scotland. Subs – Lee-Barrett, Chopra, Priskin, Bullard, Ainsley.
Blackpool: Howard; Baptiste, Eardley, Wilson, Crainey; Basham, Sylvestre, Martinez; Ince, Lua Lua, Phillips. Subs – Evatt, Grandin, Phillips, Taylor-Fletcher, Cathcart.