REPORT & GALLERY: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Ipswich Town 1
Substitute Jonny Williams made an instant impact on his Ipswich Town debut, grabbing a point for the Blues, within five minutes of his introduction, in the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.
But the night ended on a sour note for Williams, who smashed home a neat 20-yard volley after the hosts failed to clear their lines, the midfielder holding his groin as he limped off late in the game.
Williams made his introduction as a 57th-minute substitute for Teddy Bishop and scored within five minutes of his introduction, cancelling out Adthe Nuhiu’s sixth-minute header for the hosts.
Both teams had chances to win the game with Daryl Murphy missing a brace of headers and Christophe Berra going close with his own headed effort near the end.
The Owls, meanwhile, had two headers, from Nuhiu and Kamil Zayatte ruled out for offside, while Dean Gerken had to be at his best to keep the hosts out on a couple of occasions.
Town manager Mick McCarthy continued with the rotation policy that had served him so well during the Blues’ five-game unbeaten run.
The Blues’ boss made two changes from Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Rotherham, reverting to the side that beat Wigan, with Teddy Bishop and Cole Skuse replacing Paul Anderson and Kevin Bru.
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There was no place in the starting line-up fWilliams, despite his much-heralded arrival on Monday, McCarthy continuing with three strikers in attack.
As for the hosts, head coach Stuart Gray made one change to the side that lost 2-1 at Cardiff City on Saturday with Zayatte coming in at the heart of the defence. He replaced midfielder Giles Coke who dropped to the bench. Regular right-back Liam Palmer moved into midfield, with Lewis Buxton taking his spot.
Wednesday made a bright start and took a fifth-minute lead. After Chris Maguire’s deflected shot was palmed away by Gerken, the ball was cleared by Jonathan Parr for a corner.
From the resultant Jacques Maghoma set-piece, from the left, the giant Nuhiu beat his man at the near post and directed a powerful header over Gerken and into the roof of the net.
In was an uncharacteristic start from the visitors who had begun the last two games so well and they were missing out on several second balls in midfield.
They did have a couple of forays forward with Conor Sammon and Tyrone Mings looking to create an opening down the left, but the hosts were defending well.
It almost got worse for Ipswich on 22 minutes when Zayatte headed home the rebound after Nuhiu’s initial header from a right-wing corner was saved by Gerken, but the linesman had already raised his flag.
Town were struggling to gain a foothold in the game but, from one long ball forward, left-back Joe Mattock let the ball run and Sammon closed down goalkeeper Keiren Westwood who appeared to carry the ball outside the box.
Then, from a corner on the left, the Blues caused a short melee in the Wednesday box before Berra was penalised for a foul on May.
Wednesday were forced to make a change seven minutes before the break when Zayatte, impressive up to that point, pulled up with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Claude Dielna.
Luke Hyam had Town’s first real shot in anger five minutes before the break, his long-range effort being momentarily spilled by Westwood, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.
The Blues came even closer just before half-time with two Murphy headers. First, the striker headed agonisingly wide across goal from Mings’s deep left-wing cross, before watching a second header, moments later, clear the bar after good work on the right from McGoldrick.
Those chances, Town’s best of the first half, were sandwiched in between a Maguire shot from distance that was well held by Gerken, as the half finished at a frenetic pace.
The second half began as the first finished and Wednesday had their second goal of the night chalked off within a few minutes of the restart. Nuhiu tapped home on the line, but had been in an offside position when his first header was saved by Gerken.
Williams was introduced on 57 minutes and soon Murphy forced a regulation catch from Westwood, after his volley lacked pace.
At the other end, Maguire flashed an effort just wide before Williams scored within five minutes of his introduction.
Wednesday failed to clear a high ball into the box and when the ball fell to the Welshman on the edge of the area, he lashed home a 20-yard effort that flashed across Westwood and went in off the post.
Town had been lifted by Williams’ immediate impact and from an angled ball forward, Sammon hit a volley well wide of the near post after being fed by McGoldrick.
Maguire then saw another deflected effort from range whistle wide, was then booked for hauling down Williams who was breaking clear for Town, then substituted for Jeremy Helan.
The hosts were reverting more and more to long balls in the second half, with Town playing the better football, and the visitors almost got their reward on 82 minutes when Berra headed just over, eight yards out, from a right-wing Anderson free-kick.
Dean Gerken 8; Jonathan Parr 6; Luke Chambers 6; Christophe Berra 7; Tyrone Mings 7; Cole Skuse 6; Luke Hyam 7; Teddy Bishop 6; Conor Sammon 6; Daryl Murphy 7; David McGoldrick 7. Subs: 11 Paul Anderson (Sammon, 75) 6; Jonny Williams (Bishop) 8; Bru (Williams) 5