MATCH COMMENT: Ipswich Town are like the horror film villain that just keeps on coming back
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich v Doncaster: Ipswich Town’s never-say-die spirit once again came to the fore in a crucial 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers. STUART WATSON takes a look back on the game.
Ipswich Town’s never-say-die spirit once again came to the fore in a crucial 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers.
Having taken the lead through Daryl Murphy’s header soon after the restart (47), the Blues were pegged back by Chris Brown’s penalty (83). Town took less than three minutes to restore their lead though as skipper Luke Chambers provided a super finish.
Only goal difference currently keeps Mick McCarthy’s men outside of the Championship play-off places. Brighton currently occupy sixth-spot following their 3-0 home win over Charlton, with close rivals Bournemouth, Blackburn and Watford all held to away draws and Nottingham Forest defeated over the weekend. Reading’s game-in-hand is at home against league-leaders Leicester tonight.
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Town now have just four games left, starting with matches against top-six rivals Watford (a) and Bournemouth this Easter weekend and concluding with a trip to Burnley (2nd) and home game against Sheffield Wednesday (15th).
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Like the villain in a horror film, Ipswich Town keep on coming back from the dead just when the audience’s heart rate has returned to normal.
Every time it looks like Mick McCarthy’s side are almost certain to slip out of contention for a top-six finish they pull something out of the bag which makes everyone believe again.
Victory on Saturday was undoubtedly the minimum requirement to realistically stay in the chase. So when Chris Brown levelled things up from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute those fans who wear pessimism as armour to protect themselves against disappointment actually felt a strange sort of relief.
We were never going to finish sixth. It was a gallant effort from a low-budget squad. It’s been a great season of progress. Can we all relax now?
Not yet we can’t.
This spirited set of Blues players refuses to go away. An unfashionable, low-budget outfit that mixed with the outcasts last season, they certainly weren’t invited to the play-off party. Straight-talking McCarthy isn’t a man who seeks popularity though. And he very much wants to gatecrash.
Doncaster put in a battling display at Portman Road on Saturday and were more than a match for the hosts in a goalless first period as both keepers were forced into smart saves.
McCarthy’s bold decision to replace wingers Paul Anderson and Stephen Hunt with strikers Frank Nouble and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake immediately changed the dynamic of the game though as Rovers were forced onto the back foot.
Just one minute and seven seconds into the second half and Town had broken the deadlock, Daryl Murphy rising highest to head home Tyrone Mings’ cross with keeper Sam Johnstone caught in no man’s land.
It was the Irishman’s 13th goal of an impressive season. Following years of loan switches he finally feels settled in Suffolk, while a recall to the Republic of Ireland set-up has boosted his confidence no end. With the No.9 on his back the powerful front man is in the form of his life.
Doncaster continued to make like difficult though and drew level with just seven minutes to go.
Mings – starting only his fifth league game for Town – had played superbly, once again flying the flag for non-league players and proving that he is more than ready to step up if Aaron Cresswell (not risked due to a tight groin) is sold in the summer.
The former Chippenham man did blot his copy book slightly when giving away the spot-kick though, a clumsy tangle of legs with Mark Duffy preceding Brown’s cool finish from 12 yards.
McCarthy has placed as big an emphasis on personality as he has ability when recruiting though. Mings is no exception and the inexperienced showed bags of character to dust himself down and play a huge part in Town’s quickfire response.
It was the athletic full-back’s driving run forwards which started the move and, after Luke Hyam’s challenge on Gabriel Tamas went controversially unpunished, Jonny Williams’ shot deflected kindly into the path of the on-rushing Chambers to slam across the keeper and low into the net.
McCarthy admitted afterwards that his side had ‘got away with one’ regards the referee not blowing for a foul in the build-up to the winner. As the old saying goes though, you make your own luck.
Back to that horror film analogy. Will Town’s top-six push eventually die off after several dramatic comebacks? Right now you wouldn’t bet against them turning the genre on its head completely.
22 Dean Gerken
Important stop at 0-0 7
4 Luke Chambers
Super winner, really adventurous 8
6 Christophe Berra
Great tussle with Brown 7
5 Tommy Smith
Kept Sharp very quiet 7
15 Tyrone Mings
Hand in both goals, gave away pen 7
11 Paul Anderson
Withdrawal no reflection on play 7
8 Cole Skuse
Kept Town ticking throughout 7
19 Luke Hyam
Some crunching tackles 8
12 Stephen Hunt
Needs to get his head up more 6
25 Jonny Williams
Took usual kicks. ‘Just’ a 7/10 7
9 Daryl Murphy
Another crucial goal. Form of his life 8
1 Scott Loach (not used)
24 Frazer Richardson (Williams 90+)
18 Jay Tabb (not used)
16 Paul Green (not used)
14 Anthony Wordsworth (not used)
35 Frank Nouble 7 (Hunt 46)
27 S Ebanks-Blake 6 (Anderson 46)
33 Sam Johnstone
Two great stops, caught for opener 7
2 Paul Quinn
Adapted well to back three system 7
17 Gabriel Tamas
Denied by good save 7
20 Abdoulaye Meite
Sluggish at times 6
26 James Coppinger
Limited impact on right 6
4 Dean Furman
Out-worked in middle 6
18 Paul Keegan
Skipper lost cool too often 6
11 David Cotterill
Creative spark for visitors 7
3 James Husband
Got up and down the left well 7
9 Chris Brown
Cool penalty. Big man a handful 7
10 Billy Sharp
Fox-in-the-box fed off scraps 6
13 Jon Maxted (not used)
12 Luke McCullough (not used)
31 Enda Stevens 6 (Husband 80)
21 Marc De Val (not used)
29 Harry Middleton (not used)
7 Mark Duffy 7 (Furman 76)
22 Theo Robinson (Meite 90+)
Town skipper could have sulked when he was shifted to right-back to accommodate Christophe Berra, instead he’s got his head down and really improved his game. A constant attacking threat at the weekend and capped good display with a cracking goal.
Bookings: Berra (40)
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 6
Shots off target 7
Hit woodwork 0
Bookings: Brown (17), Sharp (17), Meite (44)
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 5
Shots off target 2
Hit woodwork 0
Attendance: 19,496 (398 away)
Referee: Graham Scott
Player of the Year
Christophe Berra was named the Ipswich Town Supporters’ Player of the Year at Saturday night’s awards evening. The Scotland international beat Daryl Murphy into second place, David McGoldrick into third and last year’s winner Tommy Smith into fourth.
Berra also won the Junior Blues Player of the Year award, while McGoldrick carried off the Away Match Passport holders’ gong.
Centre-half Berra tweeted: “Thanks to all the fans who voted me Supporters and Junior Blues Player of the Year. #honoured. Now prepare for a big Easter weekend.”
Second-year scholar Kyle Hammond won the Dale Roberts Academy Player of the Year award. The right-back, who is out of action for the next seven to nine months with a knee ligament injury, recently agreed a professional contract with the Blues.
“#ITFC now have more points than we finished with in the last 4 seasons. The last time we had this many points with 4 games left was 2004/05.”
“Impressive that our starting line-up cost nowt!”
“Still think 6th is Brighton’s to lose but we’re gonna give them a fight.”
“Good to see Berra get player of year..Glad that Murphy came second... he’s such an unsung hero, glad he’s got some recognition for his hard work!”
Two home games to get a crowd of over 20,000. The last time #itfc went a whole league season without a 20,000+ crowd was 1987/88.”