Town denied win by Rovers penalty
Ipswich Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 1
IPSWICH Town were deprived victory in their penultimate home Championship game of the season at Portman Road this afternoon by a late Doncaster penalty.
There was little to play for on paper for these two mid-table sides although a win for Ipswich would see them leap-frog their Yorkshire-based opponents and move into the top half of the table.
It was a tepid affair that came to life in the later stages, and when they took the lead Town should have been able to hold off an off colour visiting side.
Connor Wickham pounced on an error by James O’Connor in the 72nd minute to put Town ahead and the points looked secure.
But nine minutes later substitute Dean Shiels equalised from the penalty spot after Shane O’Connor brought down the number 22. Town complained but there looked little doubt that the referee was right to award a spot kick.
Town made two changes from the side that lost 3-0 at Nottingham Forest last weekend with Damien Delaney (injured) and Jaime Peters dropping out. In came Tommy Smith to play beside Gareth McAuley at the heart of the defence and David Wright to play at right back.
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There were a couple of names on the bench that would have caused Town fans to enquire ‘who?’ Former Ipswich schoolboys Billy Clark (forward-thinking midfielder) and Luke Hyam (defender) were named substitutes after being handed one-year professional contracts last week along with central defender Tom Eastman.
Another still to make his senior debut Troy Brown - signed on a one-year deal last summer after leaving Fulham – was also on the bench along with the recalled Richard Wright and Peters.
Carlos Edwards was ruled out with chickenpox and David Healy with a knee injury, with Brian Murphy managing to get a ferry back to Scotland from his native Ireland on Thursday night and drive back to Suffolk in time for some light training yesterday
Doncaster, who won 3-1 at Portman Road last April, were unchanged from the side that lost at home to West Brom seven days earlier. They had lost their previous three matches.
The visitors began with Heffernan up front on his own and five men spread across midfield.
Early proceedings were of an end of season variety although McAuley was close to getting his head to a Leadbitter free-kick in front of goal and then B Murphy dived to his left to hold a stinging low shot by Roberts in the 14th minute.
Little of note was happening in the bright sunshine, although a Town free-kick led to Wickham hooking the ball over from close range in the 29th minute.
Half-time came – thankfully – and went with nothing to raise the pulse.
McAuley, S O’Connor and to a lesser extent Leadbitter and Colback were doing their best to liven the game but a poor Doncaster side were easily proving equal to Town.
In the 61st minute Town broke down the left and from Colback’s cross, Wickham saw his far post header blocked and his follow-up effort comfortably saved – Ipswich’s first effort on target!
Six minutes later, B Murphy turned away a close range cross from Oster following a Doncaster throw although Ipswich had stepped up half a gear by now.
In the 72nd minute Town took the lead with Wickham’s fifth goal of the season. McAuley pumped a long ball forward that was willingly chased by Walters. J O’Connor tried to pass back to his keeper but misdirected the ball across goal where an alert Wickham nipped in front of Sullivan to divert the ball low into the vacant net.
Nine minutes later, S O’Connor sent Shiels tumbling when the visiting substitute got ahead of him with the number 22 sending B Murphy the wrong way with the resultant penalty after the referee had spoken to an assistant after having no doubt about giving the decision originally.
Young Clark came on for his debut late on in place of Wickham who had been booked for a late tackle on Roberts after an altercation with Sullivan.
Ipswich Town: B Murphy; D Wright, McAuley, T Smith, S O’Connor; Walters, Norris (sub Peters 76 mins), Leadbitter, Colback; D Murphy (Garvan 57), Wickham (Clark 89). Substitutes: R Wright, Eastman, Brown, Hyam.
Doncaster Rovers: Sullivan, Chambers, J O’Connor, Martis, Roberts; Emmanuel-Thomas, Oster, Mutch (Shiels 63), Wilson (Hird 88), Hayter; Heffernan (Fairhurst 90). Substitutes: B Smith, Lockwood, McDaid, Dumbuya.
Referee: Mr A Penn (West Midlands)