Town lose seven-goal thriller in Germany
- Credit: Archant
Fortuna Dusseldorf 4 Ipswich Town 3
It was a case of beer, music and goals galore as Ipswich Town lost 4-3 to their new German friends Fortuna Dusseldorf tonight.
The unique link-up between the clubs started a decade ago when a number of Fortuna fans travelled over to Portman Road and made the Blues – a club with a similar history and present – their adopted English team.
More than 600 Town fans made the trip over to the Rhine region and thoroughly enjoyed themselves under glorious sunshine, Fortuna’s training stadium packed to its 5,700 capacity and enjoying a rousing rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ ahead of kick-off.
Mick McCarthy’s men may have ended up defeated in a topsy-turvy match – Freddie Sears, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Brett Pitman all on target – but it was a very valuable workout at this early stage of pre-season.
Second-tier outfit Dusseldorf – playing a full-strength side ahead of their opening match next Sunday – burst out of the blocks in the sunshine and it was virtual one-way traffic throughout the opening period.
Bartosz Bialkowski produced a near post stop from Joel Pohjanpalo inside the opening minute, Sercan Sararer shot just wide after a neat exchange with Didier Ya Konen, before Karim Haggui headed narrowly over following a corner.
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There was an impromptu drinks break midway through the half, with a few of Town’s younger starters – left-back Myles Kenlock especially – thankful of the opportunity to regroup.
Dusseldorf’s onslaught continued, but somehow the scoreline remained goalless. First, Kyle Hammond got away with bundling over a player in the box, then Ya Konan – a constant menace – had a finish disallowed for offside.
The German hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute, Michael Lendl converting from the penalty spot after a low cross had hit the arm of Hammond inside the box.
Ipswich were back on level terms within two minutes, however, Sears producing a sublime, first time angled lob over advanced keeper Michael Rensing following Adam McDonnell’s pass.
Ya Konan’s shot from distance was turned around post by a full-stretch Bialkowski before Dusseldorf restored their lead in first-half stoppage-time, Pahjanpalo converting from close-range following Kevin Akpoguma’s low cross. Not for the first time, Town had left far too many gaps to exploit down their left side.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy changed his entire team at the break in order to give other players the chance to build up their fitness.
The transfer-listed Cameron Stewart – recently left out of the squad which travelled to Ireland for a week-long training camp – was given the chance to operate in a central No.10 role, with academy graduate Kundai Benyu, who also didn’t travel to Dublin, playing in a deeper midfield position.
With Jonathan Parr out injured, Jay Tabb played at left-back.
The tempo of Fortuna’s play, understandably, dropped after the restart and, with new Arsenal loanee Maitland-Niles once again showing some neat touches, Ipswich pulled level in the 61st minute.
Stewart was involved in the move, Pitman displaying nimble footwork in a crowded box before cleverly scooping the ball over an on-rushing keeper – the ball bouncing slowly over the line and into the unguarded net.
Ipswich finally began to get a foothold in the game and it required a near post save to deny Benyu adding another goal within seconds.
McCarthy’s men made it 3-2 following a following a flowing move, Maitland-Niles sidefooting home following Kevin Bru’s perfectly-weighted chip forwards and Ryan Fraser’s low cross from the right.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, however, with Christian Strohdiek heading home from a Liendl cross from the right to make it 3-3.
And Dusseldorf got their noses back in front in the 84th minute when Julian Schauerte’s low cross from the right took out every Ipswich defender and left Sararer with a far post tap-in.
Each and every goal was greeted by a blast of rock music, supporters mingled at an after-party and generally a good time was had by all. This could well be the start of a lasting friendship.
Ipswich starting XIs
First half (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Hammond, Chambers (cpt), Clarke, Kenlock; Skuse, McDonnell; Connolly, Bishop, Henshall; Sears.
Second half (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Emmanuel, Yorwerth, Smith (cpt), Tabb; Bru, Benyu, Maitland-Niles, Stewart, Fraser; Pitman.
Attendance: 5,700 (600 away)