MATCH COMMENT: It’s the hope that kills you! Ipswich Town provide reason to believe with 2-0 win over Reading

Following years of false dawns, it was inevitable that pessimism would to creep into the minds of many Ipswich Town fans last week...

OVERVIEW

Ipswich Town produced a superb second half performance to secure a fully deserved 2-0 home win over Reading.

Daryl Murphy broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute when slamming the ball in off the underside of the bar with his weaker right foot, before substitute Paul Anderson beat his marker and lashed home a fine angled effort in stoppage-time to seal a morale-boosting victory.

The Blues had gone into the game off the back of three successive defeats and were winless in six, but – after an even first half short on goalscoring chances – Mick McCarthy’s men stepped it up a gear.


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It’s a result which lifted Town back up to seventh in the table, closing the gap on sixth-placed Reading to two points ahead of tomorrow’s night’s game at a Leeds side who have lost their last five and are winless in seven.

COMMENT

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Following years of false dawns, it was inevitable that pessimism would to creep into the minds of many Ipswich Town fans last week.

Three successive defeats were labelled a ‘reality check’ in many quarters. Accepting that this low-budget side had been punching above its weight and was heading back towards a spiritual home of mid-table was somehow therapeutic. It provided emotional protection for what was ahead. How silly of us to let ourselves get a little bit excited.

It’s the hope that kills you. And now, as football so cruelly and delightfully does, one result and performance has dragged everyone right back in.

Suddenly, the defeat to a star-studded QPR side, FA Cup exit at Preston (with a much-changed side) and loss at Millwall (buoyed by a new manager and off the back of a lengthy midweek trip), can be viewed as a blip amidst extenuating circumstances.

Saturday saw a return to an Ipswich Town side oozing with manager Mick McCarthy’s DNA.

Christophe Berra produced a warrior-like performance at the back, leaving the field bloodied and bandaged, while Aaron Cresswell and Cole Skuse stretched every sinew to make fantastic saving tackles in the box.

Ryan Tunnicliffe snapped at opposition heels throughout – for the first time showing his Manchester United potential and playing like his idol Roy Keane – while veteran Irishman Stephen Hunt played like a teenager, lifting everyone with his boundless energy down the left.

Half-time substitute Paul Anderson produced his most positive performance in a Blues shirt, finally looking like an out-and-out winger, while Daryl Murphy dominated in both boxes and continues to be in the form of his life.

The latter’s strike partner, David McGoldrick, once again looked head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of his technical ability, knitting together play with his close control and intelligent movement.

In the limp 1-0 defeat at Millwall it was a case of picking the best of a bad bunch when it came to the Town man-of-the-match award. On this occasion you could make an argument for five or six.

Like any match, you could look back on a key turning point; Tunnicliffe getting away with a needless lunge on Jobi McAnuff in the box in the 16th minute.

Reading – who thumped Bolton 7-1 the previous weekend, remember – were simply blown away after the break.

Town could even afford to pass up a golden chance to make it 2-0 in the 70th minute, keeper Alex McCarthy saving McGoldrick’s one-on-one attempt with his legs.

That natural pessimism kicked in as the Portman Road faithful feared yet another set of points dropped from winning positions.

Yet, instead of dropping deep and inviting pressure, Town got on the front foot and – as a result – you never had that impending sense of doom.

WHAT THEY SAID

Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager

“First half we weren’t particularly great, but second half we were a lot better and deservedly won the game.

“I keep saying that you get bad times in the season and we might have another bad time yet. What I do know though is that they are a really good honest bunch of pros who were really hurt by that performance at Millwall. They didn’t like that. It’s nice when you come back and win against a good side that’s fancied to be in the top six.”

Nigel Adkins, Reading manager

“I thought it was a good Championship game. We did really well in the first half. We were on the front-foot and competitive, but Ipswich were better in the second half.

“We kept going after Murphy’s goal and had a few oohs and aahs but the second goal put the game to bed.

“I am looking forward to the second half of the season. The top two looks beyond us but we have players coming back and it will be an exciting end.”

PLAYER RATINGS

IPSWICH

22 Dean Gerken

Back to best after recent errors 7

4 Luke Chambers

Handled the pacy McAnuff 7

6 Christophe Berra

Imperious. Cut head for his troubles 8

5 Tommy Smith

Rock-solid. Won every header 7

3 Aaron Cresswell

Crucial goalline clearance 7

7 Carlos Edwards (cpt)

Anderson better after the break 6

8 Cole Skuse

Super last-ditch tackle, tidy passing 7

16 Ryan Tunnicliffe

Penalty escape. Snapped at heels 7

12 Stephen Hunt

Bundle of energy. Lifted everyone 8

9 Daryl Murphy

Dominant in both boxes. Great goal 8

10 David McGoldrick

Technically superb. Linked-up play 8

Substitutes

1 Scott Loach (not used)

15 Tyrone Mings (McGoldrick 90+)

18 Jay Tabb 7 (Hunt 66)

14 Anthony Wordsworth (not used)

11 Paul Anderson 8 (Edwards 46)

26 Paul Taylor (not used)

35 Frank Nouble (not used)

READING

21 Alex McCarthy

Top save at 1-0. Beaten by top goals 7

2 Chris Gunter

Got forward. Struggled with Hunt 6

Kaspars Gorkss

Bullied by Murphy 5

5 Alex Pearce

Stayed deep as McGoldrick drifted 6

37 Jordan Obita

Pinned back by Anderson 5

12 Garath McCleary

Faded after positive start 6

16 Hope Akpan

Out-fought in middle 5

23 Danny Williams

Tried to make things happen 7

11 Jobi McAnuff (cpt)

Blew hot and cold 6

7 Pavel Pogrebnyak

Battered into submission by Berra 6

9 Adam Le Fondre

Completely anonymous 4

Substitutes

1 Adam Federici (not used)

3 Stephen Kelly (not used)

24 Shaun Cummings (not used)

10 Royston Drenthe (not used)

22 Nick Blackman 7 (McCleary 71)

25 Jake Taylor (not used)

35 Michael Hector (not used)

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH

Stephen Hunt

Term ‘best of a bad bunch’ was used post Millwall defeat, this time it was difficult to separate a number of quality performances. Hunt edges it, his boundless energy lifting team-mates and the crowd alike. Driving run which led to the opener was crucial.

STATS

IPSWICH

Bookings: Hunt (54), Anderson (90+)

Sendings off: None

Shots on target 5

Shots off target 4

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 4

Fouls 11

READING

Bookings: Pearce (50)

Sendings off: None

Shots on target 5

Shots off target 4

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 6

Fouls 7

KEY MOMENTS

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy admitted that midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe was fortunate not to concede a penalty in Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Reading.

Tunnicliffe slid in unnecessarily on Jobi McAnuff in the box, getting none of the ball and – thankfully – little of the man either.

The murmurs which spread around the Portman Road crowd after a goalkick was awarded suggested it was a let-off, McCarthy admitting: “I think we did get lucky there. I just said to Tunners as I was putting my tie on ‘hey you, don’t be diving in like that in the box’. He said ‘I didn’t touch him’. Well I’m not bothered if he touched him or not, don’t go diving in like that in the box because you can get sent-off, we’d be 1-0 down, have 10 men and be knackered.”

Reading boss Nigel Adkins said: “The referee even admitted there was a touch, that there was contact.

“Jobi has tried to stay on his feet. We want players to be honest, we don’t want them to go down, but it’s still a penalty.”

Neither McCarthy nor Adkins had any problem with Stephen Hunt’s collision with keeper Alex McCarthy at the weekend.

The Irishman – making his first league start in nearly two months – played with boundless energy against his former club.

It was therefore no surprise that he launched himself feet first towards the ball as McCarthy back-pedalled to prevent David McGoldrick’s glancing header from creeping over the line at 0-0. It left the former Blues loanee in a heap, with Reading’s players reacting angrily and Hunt booked.

Blues boss McCarthy said: “I don’t think that was a booking. I think the ball was there to be won. I think it was their reaction which got him booked. Their player who reacted and pushed him should have got booked too.”

Adkins said: “Being a goalkeeper myself you always know there’s going to be someone flying in there. I don’t think there was anything malicious in it. I haven’t got an issue with it.”

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