MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 0 Wolves 2
Ipswich v Wolverhampton: IT was a similar tale of woe for Ipswich Town tonight as a continued lack of ruthlessness in both boxes saw them slip to a fourth defeat in five games.
The Blues wasted chances galore either side of a comical own goal from defender Tommy Smith in the 68th minute, with substitute Tongo Doumbia wrapping up the win with a long-range strike.
The result leaves the Blues second-from-bottom in the Championship table, with manager Paul Jewell already coming under early season pressure heading into Saturday’s home game against fellow-strugglers Charlton.
After feeling his side were unfortunate to come away from Middlesbrough with a 2-0 defeat four days’ earlier, Jewell made just one change to his side. Andy Drury – the man whose mistake was punished for Boro’s crucial opener at The Riverside – was replaced in the centre of midfield by Massimo Luongo.
Wolves boss Stale Solbakken made three alterations to the side which beat Leicester 2-1 on Sunday.
With the Midlands side facing six games in 13 days, striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake wasn’t risked after reporting a tight hamstring. He was replaced by Icelandic summer signing Bjorn Sigurdarson.
Following two impressive performances following his arrival from Peterborough, new �1.5m signing Paul Taylor was backed in the build-up by manager and team-mates alike as the man who would fire the Blues up the Championship table.
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However, he continued where he left off in the north east early on, firing an erratic long-range effort well off target.
With many predicting goals galore in a game contested by two notoriously shaky defences, it looked like a sparse crowd of just 16,540 would be treated to another entertaining spectacle in the mould of the 2-2 draw with Huddersfield the previous time out on Suffolk soil.
Unfortunately, the game descended into a wholly dire opening 40 minutes lacking in quality from both sides.
With barely a shot on goal produced at either end, the most entertainment provided was when it took home keeper Scott Loach, a steward and a ball boy nearly two minutes to fix a broken corner flag.
Town did come to life heading into the closing stages of the break though as their flexible front four of Daryl Murphy, Lee Martin, Paul Taylor and Michael Chopra gave their increasingly disgruntled supporters something to cling onto at the break.
Martin’s lung-busting run from just inside the Wolves half left three players in his wake, with keeper Carl Ikeme agonisingly nicking the ball of his toes. The roaming right-winger also saw a side-footed shot saved following Chopra’s low pull-back.
Town saw Taylor limp off just eight minutes after the restart following a firm-but-fair challenge from Roger Johnson. On came Jason Scotland to provide the Blues with some much-needed physical presence.
A minute later, Town should have been in front. Luke Chambers flicked on Aaron Cresswell’s deep free-kick, the ball cannoned off the on-rushing Chopra’s knee, was scrambled off the line by Christophe Berra and fell invitingly at the feet of Murphy.
Unfortunately, with time to set himself from eight yards out, he dragged his right-foot effort wide.
In a vastly improved half of football, both sides showed far more ambition.
Kevin Doyle sent a stinging volley flush against the post just after the hour after Sigurdarson nodded down Stephen Ward’s deep cross.
At the other end, Martin, sliding in, put a difficult chance over the bar after Chopra had put Scotland away with a clever back-heel.
The first goal was always going to be crucial and it went the way of the visitors.
Bakary Sako won and delivered a free-kick from the left, Berra flicked it on and Smith got himself in a complete muddle to net the own goal.
Smith missed a glorious chance to redeem himself in the 76th when blazing a glorious chance over the bar following Martin’s knock down at the far post.
A minute later, Wolves had killed the game off when sub Doumbia latched onto a long ball out from the back and rifled a fine 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Loach’s.
There was still time for Scotland to fire another good chance over the bar, with boos ringing out around Portman Road at the final whistle.
If it hadn’t been for Loach’s late penalty save against Huddersfield, Town would have lost their last five games in a row.
The margins have been fine, but the excuses can only continue for so long.