MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 3 Nottingham Forest 1
Ipswich v Forest: The Blues finally moved out of the bottom three following their best performance of the season – beating promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest 3-1.
Midfield duo Guirane N’Daw and Luke Hyam both scored their first Championship goals for the club, sandwiching a Dexter Blackstock goal, before Daryl Murphy raced clear to strike a killer third in injury time.
It was no more than Town deserved following a performance full of passion and fight that Forest couldn’t cope with.
Tough in the tackle and sharp in their passing, the Blues proceeded to put in their best 45 minutes under Mick McCarthy.
The encouraging signs were there early on when Lee Martin’s cross was met by an unmarked Smith who was only able to find the hands of Lee Camp.
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The Forest keeper then became a villain for the home fans after he clattered into DJ Campbell when Town’s top scorer got beyond the back four.
Camp protested his innocence and the yellow card issued by Andy D’Urso – himself an historic public enemy at Portman Road – appeared to be right with Camp protected by more than one Forest defender.
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Hyam, already earning his recall, hit a 25-yard shot just wide before the home side opened the scoring on the half-hour mark.
Barnett won yet another header, but Campbell’s ball over the top looked to be comfortable for the Forest backline.
But a lack of communication between Collins and Camp saw the pair collide and the ball fall to N’Daw who had the simple task of blasting the ball into the empty net from a matter of yards.
The Senegalese midfielder, still supporting a head bandage, bowed to the ground and kissed the Portman Road turf to celebrate his first Ipswich goal.
It was no more than Town deserved but, to Forest’s credit, they finally started to show what they are capable of.
Three minutes before the interval the visitors had the best chance when Alan Hutton’s cross was missed by Chambers and Bradley Orr but Billy Sharp’s volley was tipped onto the crossbar by Henderson.
From the ensuing corner, Henri Lansbury’s low shot from the edge of the area was cleared off the line by Barnett.
Parity was restored in the 59th minute when Sharp and Andy Reid exchanged passes in the area and the striker’s low cross was turned in by Blackstock.
But just two minutes later, Ipswich restored their lead. Hyam and N’Daw teamed up to release Campbell who went down under Collins’ challenge in the area.
It was debatable how much contact there was but the Town striker stepped up for his second penalty in four days.
Unlike Peterborough on Saturday, he went for the left corner but Camp was equal to it, though no match for the charging Hyam who crashed the rebound into the net.
After a breathtaking 15 minutes, the second half evened out with Forest not doing enough to warrant a second equaliser.
Similarly, Town’s fantastic efforts in the opening 65 minutes had clearly had an effect.
But the home side still carved out the best chance when sub Murphy outmuscled Ward but as he looked to get across Collins, the Forest defender blocked well.
The final few minutes were always going to be nervy and none more so than when Smith miscued a clearance but Cresswell was alive to clear as Blackstock waited to pounce.
Then all the anxiety cleared as Murphy once again beat Ward to race clear and calmly slot the ball past Camp to end a thrilling night for Town.