MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 1 Derby County 2 - Late sickener leaves Paul Jewell on the brink
Ipswich v Derby: CONFIDENCE-SHOT Ipswich Town sunk to the foot of the Championship table tonight following the repeat of a worryingly predictable story.
For the fifth successive game the Blues let a 1-0 slip, with the oppositions’ winner coming in stoppage-time for the second game in a row.
With goals from Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson rendering DJ Campbell’s opener meaningless, there were angry chants directed towards manager Paul Jewell and chief executive Simon Clegg from a sparse home crowd of just 15,417 at the final whistle.
With Peterborough winning at home to Huddersfield, the Blues – without a victory in 11 games now - are bottom of the table with more than a quarter of the campaign gone. Relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in more than 50 years is becoming a very real possibility.
Blues boss Paul Jewell made just once change to the side which went down to a limp 2-1 defeat at Hull City three days’ earlier. Daryl Murphy dropped out of the squad completely to be replaced by Andy Drury. The latter played in the role just behind the striker, with Lee Martin moving to the left-wing in a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
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For the first time this season, the Blues decided to drop Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ as the teams’ entrance music, perhaps feeling that the lyrics ‘and now the end is near’ were too close to the knuckle for under-pressure boss Paul Jewell.
It was replaced by dance number ‘Titanium’, the chorus of which appropriately talk about being ‘bullet proof’ – fans having lost count of the number of votes of confidence their manager has received from owner Marcus Evans during his largely disastrous 21-month spell in charge.
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There may have been a sense of impending nervousness among an understandably sparse crowd at Portman Road, but that did not appear to transpire to the Town players in an impressive start to the game.
Taking the match by the scruff of the neck from the first whistle, the hosts forced two good saves out of keeper Adam Legzdins inside the opening 10 minutes.
First he pushed a long-range Aaron Cresswell effort around the post and moments later he spread himself to save from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas inside the box following a slip by Andy Keogh.
Encouraged by their start, the hosts continued to remain on the front foot and they got the goal their early dominance deserved in the 24th minute.
Cresswell’s diagonal ball was nodded down by Luke Chambers on the far side, Martin hooked the ball into the six yard box and an unmarked DJ Campbell decided to take a touch rather than shot first time.
The hesitance of the on loan striker – who looked borderline offside at first glance – appeared like it was going to be costly as defender O’Connor raced back, but the defender’s challenge saw the ball scruffily bundled into the back of the net via the post.
The announcer gave as Campbell’s goal, but in truth own goals (two) could arguably have become the team’s top-scorer for the campaign at that moment in time.
Town then went looking for the killer second goal which as eluded them in previous matches. Emmanuel-Thomas almost produced a replica of his skilful goal at Hull when he wriggled past three defenders to get inside the box, but this time Legzdins made a save. Soon afterwards, Martin sent a crisp long-range strike into the side-netting.
Despite their side’s dominance, there was still a sense of quiet unease among a crowd who have come to expect sudden capitulations.
And their fears were proved justified four minutes before half-time when Derby found an equaliser against the run of play. Town, predictably, were the creators of their own downfall.
First of all Danny Higginbotham sliced a wild clearance into the air when he should have just knocked the ball out for a throw-in, then keeper Stephen Henderson parried Conor Sammon’s shot from outside the box straight to feet of the on-rushing Theo Robisnon for a tap-in.
The on-loan West Ham custodian’s mistake wasn’t quite in the same bracket as Scott Loach’s gaffe against Cardiff, but he should undoubtedly have done better.
With Derby County - led on by the driving runs of Town summer target Jacobs - starting the second half on the front foot, the quiet murmurings began to turn into vocal unease from the home crowd.
Ironic cheers rang around the ground when the attendance was announced as 15,417 – the first time it has dipped below sixteen thousand this season.
Moments later, with 63 minutes on the clock, chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ greeted Jewell’s decision to replace front two Campbell and Drury with Michael Chopra and Jason Scotland.
Derby began to turn the screw and there was always a sense of what was to come. It arrived in stoppage-time, substitute Tyson on hand to tap home Sammons’ low cross.