Ipswich Town 4 Nottingham Forest 2: Superb Blues see off Forest in six-goal thriller
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town finally cut loose in the second half as they secured a 4-2 victory over Nottingham Forest in a six-goal thriller at Portman Road.
The Blues led twice in the opening period but saw Callum Connolly and Dominic Iorfa’s goals cancelled out by strikes from Kieran Dowell and Tyler Walker, but stretched ahead in the second thanks to strikes from the excellent Martyn Waghorn and Bersant Celina.
Waghorn was a pest all afternoon, hassling and harrying the Forest defence, never giving a moment’s piece and finishing superbly to take his season’s tally to 10 and surpass last season’s top scorer, Tom Lawrence.
But it will be the all-round team performance which will please Mick McCarthy, with his defence keeping returning hero Daryl Murphy quiet, the midfield supplying the forward line well and his attackers taking their chances when they came.
The victory takes McCarthy’s side up to seventh in the Championship table, just three points off the final play-off place, heading into next Saturday’s visit to Middlesbrough.
It was Jordan Spence who got the nod to replace Luke Chambers at the heart of the Blues defence, with Dominic Iorfa coming into the side as the only change to the one which one at Derby on Tuesday night.
But the makeshift backline had little to do in the opening exchanges before the Blues took the lead.
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Much of the pre-match talk surrounded the return of former leading man Daryl Murphy, but the Irishman had a hand in the opener as he was forced back towards his own goal after winning the ball on halfway, before a combination of he and David Vaughan hauled down Ward and gave away a free-kick. From there, Waghorn’s shot was tamely palmed away by Jordan Smith, with Connolly there to gobble up the rebound.
The Blues continued to push, moving the ball around superbly and creating openings, but the door was left ajar for Forest at the other end. Thankfully, goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski came to the rescue when Jordan Spence’s missed header let Kieran Dowell in, with Murphy’s shot being palmed away by Bialkowski before the Pole reacted superbly to push Tyler Walker’s rebound off the line.
He was soon beaten, though, when a clumsy Iorfa foul was punished by Kieran Dowell as he curled his free-kick masterfully into the back of the Ipswich net.
But the Blues came out swinging, with Knudsen and Iorfa getting forward time and again, with the pair combining to put their side ahead as, following a nice ball from Bersant Celina, Danish left-back Knudsen stood the ball up for towering right-sider Iorfa at the far post for the Wolves man to head in.
Chambers’ impromptu team-talk at Derby on Tuesday reminded his players not to switch off having scored. They could have done with here as, just five minutes later, the ball was in the back of the Town net again after Liam Bridcutt’s dinked ball was superbly finished by Walker after he stole between Adam Webster and Dominic Iorfa.
It was all square at the break, but the Blues kept the intensity up after they emerged for the second half, with Waghorn rewarded as he chased a Connolly through-ball, forced Michael Mancienne into a mistake and coolly tucked the ball past Jordan Smith in the visiting goal.
He was not done, though, as he and Huws’ one-touch move superbly teed the ball up for Celina to ultimately complete the victory.
There was still time for Bialkowski to pull off another stunning save, though, as he pushed Murphy’s late header onto the bar.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Iorfa, Spence, Webster, Knudsen; Skuse, Connolly; Ward, Huws (Bru 70), Celina; Waghorn (Sears 84).
Unused subs: Gerken, Kenlock, Nydam, Bishop, Morris.
Bookings: Waghorn 82, Connolly 86)
NOTTM FOREST (4-2-3-1): Smith; Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne (cpt), Traore; Bridcutt, Vaughan (Bouchalakis, 68); Walker (McKay 81), Dowell, Osborn (Carayol 68); Murphy.
Unused subs: Henderson, Mills, Clough, Cummings.
Bookings: Dowell 45, Bridcutt 90
Attendance: 16,808 (1,124 away)
Referee: Darren Bond