MATCH COMMENT: You can never write off this spirited Ipswich Town side. Mick McCarthy’s men respond to defeat once again to keep themselves right in the top six mix.
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town remain right in the mix for a top six finish following their superb 2-0 away win at fellow play-off hopefuls Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. STUART WATSON looks back on a memorable afternoon at the Amex Stadium.
Ipswich Town remain right in the mix for a top six finish following a superb 2-0 away win at fellow play-off hopefuls Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Seagulls drew a blank due to a combination of several missed chances, a fine save from Dean Gerken and some stout defending from the visitors. Mick McCarthy’s men had looked a threat on the counter-attack throughout and sealed victory thanks to second half goals from Tommy Smith (60) and Daryl Murphy (80).
It was only the third time this calender year that Oscar Garcia’s side had conceded more than one goal in a game, Ipswich becoming only the second team (in addition to Derby) to do the double over a Brighton outfit which boasts the meanest defence in the division.
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The gap to sixth-place Reading is five points heading into the last nine games of the Championship campaign with Derby (third) and seventh-placed Nottingham Forest (7th) visiting Portman Road tomorrow night and Saturday respectively.
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You can never write off this Ipswich Town side.
Every time their top six hopes look over, Mick McCarthy’s spirited side come up with the goods and put themselves right back in the race.
The last four defeats have all been followed up victories. And Saturday’s victory at the Amex Stadium was the most satisfying of the lot.
Town were certainly not dominant. Nor did they play free-flowing football. But for home boss Oscar Garcia to suggest that the visitors had ‘done little’ was certainly sour grapes.
This was a classic away day display and the type of game that has happened in reverse to the Blues on so many occasions this season.
Brighton bossed possession for much of the game but Ipswich defended well, rode their luck at times and pounced when the opportunities presented themselves.
Anthony Wordsworth – making his first league start of the season – added some invention to Town’s midfield, the livewire Jonny Williams – booed by home fans because of his Crystal Palace connections – and the forward-thinking Aaron Cresswell all combined well.
Lone striker Murphy led the line superbly and was eventually rewarded for his selfless display.
The home side’s first big miss came in the sixth minute when Jesse Lingard latched onto Bruno’s long ball to race clear one-on-one. He waited too long to get his shot away though and, with Christophe Berra chasing back, he could only toe-poke an effort straight at Dean Gerken.
For a split second Ipswich thought they were ahead in the 25th minute. Cresswell’s low cross was mis-hit by Murphy but keeper Tomasz Kuszczak could only parry and Williams gobbled up the rebound. The linesman’s flag was raised but replays showed the midfielder was onside.
Moments later, Cresswell’s speculative effort looped off Bruno, over Kuszczak and dipped onto the roof of the net to the relief of the home crowd.
Brighton continued to pass the ball around confidently but they were unable to produce an end product. Lingard again passed up a golden opportunity just before the break when he side-footed wide in acres of space after Will Buckley had burst to the by-line and pulled the ball back.
It required a superb save from Gerken to keep the scores level five minutes after the restart, the Blues custodian at full-stretch to keep out Lingard’s crisp low effort from the edge of the box after a cross had been half-cleared.
Ipswich continued to pose a threat on the break though and Stephen Hunt’s attempt, although blazed well over, provided a reminder that the visitors were still very much in the game.
When Buckley planted a free header wide in the 57th minute following Keith Andrews’ superb overlapping run and clipped cross you began to sense it could be the Suffolk side’s day.
Three minutes later, out of nowhere, Murphy’s perseverance won a corner. Hunt delivered from the left, Murphy looped a back post header back across goal and Smith bravely headed in from close-range as Kuszczak looked to punch clear.
Big Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa glanced a header wide in the 70th minute following a superb delivery from the left by Lingard.
Town weren’t so wasteful 10 minutes from time, Williams collecting Cresswell’s short throw-in, beating Buckley with a fine piece of skill and crossing for a stooping Murphy to glance home in front of the gleeful 1,784 travelling fans.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID
Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager
“It’s a huge win. It’s a difficult place to come and play, a fabulous place to come and play I might add.
“We’ve done things right today. We’ve defended when we’ve had to and we’ve taken our chances when they arrived. It was the reverse of last week (3-1 home defeat to Wigan) when I thought we played well but didn’t take chances and conceded poor goals.
“They might feel they’ve been mugged because they had plenty of chances, but we had one in the net (in the first half) through Jonny Williams and that was onside by the way.
“Brighton are a good side, they’ve got good players and play some good football out of the back. They’ve had a few flicks at goal, but I don’t know how many saves Gerks has had to make? We had a fair amount of chances and as an away performance it was a very good one.”
Oscar Garcia, Brighton manager
“We were the better team, we dominated possession, but we didn’t take our chances. We switched off twice and they punished us. Apart from those two goals they did very little.”
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (4-3-3)
29 Tomasz Kuszczak
Beaten in 50/50 for opener 6
2 Bruno Salter
Excellent in attack 8
3 Gordon Greer (cpt)
Struggled with Murphy 5
20 Matthew Upson
Switched off at crucial moments 5
17 Stephen Ward
Solid but unspectacular 6
38 Rohan Ince
Powerful display from deep 7
18 Jake Forster-Caskey
Helped hosts boss possession 7
4 Keith Andrews
Always looked to run in behind 7
30 Will Buckley
Great movement but big miss 6
19 Leonardo Ulloa
Off day for big Argentine striker 5
35 Jesse Lingard
Livewire display, no end product 6
1 Peter Brezovan (not used)
5 Lewis Dunk (not used)
14 Inigo Calderon (not used)
27 Solly March 6 (Lingard 77)
6 Dale Stephens (not used)
25 Kazenga LuaLua 7 (Caskey 61)
9 David Rodriguez (Buckley 87)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1)
22 Dean Gerken
Super save at start of second half 8
4 Luke Chambers (cpt)
Some excellent blocks 7
6 Christophe Berra
Some good recovery tackles 7
5 Tommy Smith
Brave header for goal 7
3 Aaron Cresswell
Great going forwards 8
11 Paul Anderson
Played with real energy 7
19 Luke Hyam
Harried and harassed 6
14 Anthony Wordsworth
Added invention to midfield 7
12 Stephen Hunt
Little came off 5
25 Jonny Williams
Skilful and tenacious 8
9 Daryl Murphy
Goal, assist, powerful, everywhere 9
1 Scott Loach (not used)
24 Frazer Richardson (not used)
15 Tyrone Mings (Williams 84)
16 Paul Green 7 (Anderson 74)
18 Jay Tabb 7 (Hunt 74)
27 Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (not used)
35 Frank Nouble (not used)
Irishman did everything you can ask of a striker ploughing a lone furrow away from home.
Assisted opener, took goal tally for season to 10, ran the channels, made the ball stick up top and got back to defend. Another super display from Town’s unsung front man.
Bookings: Bruno (34)
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 5
Shots off target 11
Hit woodwork 0
Bookings: Smith (78)
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 4
Shots off target 5
Hit woodwork 0
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy on striker Daryl Murphy taking his goal tally for the season to 10: “If he’s ever played better than that I want to see it. He’s up there on his own, he runs the channels, he comes back and defends. I think the goal, running across the defender, is the work of TC (assistant manager Terry Connor). They’ve been working on that. He says it came off his shoulder but it was a great goal for him and he deserved it for his performance.”
McCarthy on his side’s top six hopes: “We’ve still got a chance. “We’re playing Derby on Tuesday (tomorrow) and Nottingham Forest on Saturday. I kept saying we’d know where we are at the end of that week. “Maybe we won’t with the way results are going. There are lot of us all still in the mix. It’s lovely that we’ve still got a chance.”
McCarthy, when asked if Ipswich were ‘exceeding expectations’: “Not really. Forgive me, but I get a bit weary of that. It’s like ‘oh aren’t we doing better than expected’.
“Do you know what, I think we’ve got a good squad of players. We haven’t got a big squad, but the ones I have got are good and are prepared to work very hard. We just went into the season looking to make progress and that’s what we’re doing.”
McCarthy on Derby thrashing Nottingham Forest 5-0 ahead of the aforementioned duo’s visits to Portman Road this week: “It’s a bonkers league isn’t it? I didn’t see it up until 3-0 but I said that it’s one of those where the manager (of Forest) Billy (Davies) has to make changes to try and get his side back in the game and justify that to the travelling fans. “I said ‘he’ll probably put two up front, they’ll be a bit more wide open, either get one back or get beaten by six’.
“Of course they get beaten heavily. “You could just see it coming, you could just smell it coming.”
McCarthy on centre-backs Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith (nine goals between them this season): “They have been outstanding, so much so that Chambo (Luke Chambers) can’t get a game at centre-half. He’s a very competent right-back though, certainly.”