Ipswich Town 0-2 Rotherham United: Limp Blues slip to back-to-back defeats and lose their lead at top of League One
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town suffered their second defeat in four days as they went down to a limp 2-0 loss at the hands of Rotherham this evening.
Matt Crooks scored both goals as he profited from loose balls on two occasions to beat Tomas Holy, with Ipswich well below par and struggling to find a way back into the contest from there.
The defeat at Accrington on Sunday, by the same scoreline, was the first of a season which had continued to snowball for the Blues, as they gained result after result and ensured positive momentum following relegation at the end of last season.
Now, though, they must work to regain that momentum all over again after suffering back-to-back defeats.
Those results have seen Ipswich lose top spot, too, with Peterborough taking over at the summit on goal difference following their victory over Stanley this evening. The Blues do still hold a game in hand, though.
Next up for Ipswich is a visit to Southend, who were beaten 7-1 at home by Doncaster and will be bossed by Sol Campbell and former Blue Hermann Hreidarsson for the first time.
Lambert made five changes to his side following the loss at Accrington on Sunday, with James Wilson, Kane Vincent-Young, Emyr Huws, Danny Rowe and Will Keane coming into the starting XI. James Norwood and Flynn Downes were fit enough to return to the bench.
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The Blues came out flying in the pouring rain as a superb touch from Kayden Jackson took the striker beyond right-back Billy Jones. His cross won a corner which led to a succession of chances, as Rowe hit the deck under pressure from Michael Ihiekwe before Luke Chambers, Huws and Keane all had efforts towards goal as the ball pinged around the Millers' penalty area.
The hosts continued to play, looking to bring Keane into the game on the floor, but what was already a test of character, following the weekend loss at Accrington, became a sterner one after just 11 minutes.
Ipswich did the hard work, defending a Rotherham corner and chasing the ball back to visiting goalkeeper Daniel Iversen, but the Dane's long ball forward caused havoc at the back as Chambers first could only partially win a header before Skuse was unable to hold off Crooks and allowed Ben Wiles to drill a shot which deflected back into the path of Crooks off of Chambers. The ball skidded off the turf and thundered through the legs of unsighted Town goalkeeper Tomas Holy, who duly picked it out of the back of his net.
It could have been two just a couple of minutes later, as Joe Mattock's flighted ball was fired over from unmarked winger Matthew Olosunde, prompting unrest from sections of the Portman Road crowd.
The rest of the first half was a slog as Ipswich struggled to find space in a congested midfield and lacked width as Skuse moved into midfield from his starting position between the two central defenders. That left Vincent-Young and Garbutt with deeper starting positions.
The final chance of the half was Rotherham's as Mattock's deep cross was headed over the top by Michael Smith, before the Blues returned unchanged for the start of the second half.
It couldn't have started any worse, though, as Skuse's clearance was charged down at source which allowed Rotherham to split the Town defence for Crooks to slide the ball home.
The 20,550 inside were silenced, aside from a pocket of Millers in the Cobbold Stand who could sense their side were on course for their biggest scalp of the campaign so far.
Lambert, assistant Stuart Taylor and coach Matt Gill were deep in discussions on the touchline as Tomas Holy clawed a superb Michael Smith header out of the top corner, as the Millers continued to take advantage of confusion at the back.
Anthony Georgiou was introduced to try and spark the hosts into life, which he did with a succession of bustling runs down the left, before James Norwood and Gwion Edwards entered the fray.
The first real chance for new-look Town came as Garbutt skipped his way through the heart of the Rotherham defence, but goalkeeper Iversen was out to narrow the angle and managed to stretch out a limb and divert the ball away from the Everton loanee.
Millers substitute Chiedozie Ogbene slid in at the back post but couldn't convert a deep cross as the visitors posted a reminder of their threat, with Paul Warne's men perhaps looking to most likely to score.
They nearly did, too, as Michael Ihiekwe's header bounced back off of Holy's post, with the Blues unable to lay any further blows before the final whistle blew.
Ipswich Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Skuse, Wilson; Vincent-Young, Huws (Georgiou 59), Nolan, Garbutt, Rowe (Edwards 67) ; Keane (Norwood 67), Jackson
Subs: Norris, Woolfenden, Downes, Judge
Rotherham: Iversen; Jones, Wood (c), Ihiekwe, Mattock; Olosunde (Morris 84), Wiles, Lindsay, Clarke (Ogbene 69); Crooks (Barlaser 79); Smith.
Subs: Price, Lamy, Hastie, Ladapo.
Att: 20,550 (229 Rotherham fans)