Match report: Birmingham City 2 Ipswich Town 1 – Blues left themselves too big a mountain to climb

Christophe Berra climbs above Ryan Shotton to score Ipswich's 89th minute disallowed goal

Christophe Berra climbs above Ryan Shotton to score Ipswich's 89th minute disallowed goal

Ipswich Town lost 2-1 at Birmingham City tonight in an often scrappy affair.

Adam Webster urges his team-mates on after pulling a goal back at Birmingham

Adam Webster urges his team-mates on after pulling a goal back at Birmingham

The home side took the lead through Clayton Donaldson’s 41st minute penalty, after Luke Varney handled in the box, then doubled their lead through Michael Morrison’s free header at a 54th minute corner.

Town livened up after Brett Pitman, Jonny Williams and Freddie Sears were introduced off the bench and halved the deficit through Adam Webster’s towering 69th minute header.

Mick McCarthy’s men finished the stronger and had a Christophe Berra headed finish controversially ruled out for a foul in the 89th minute.

Christophe Berra remonstrates with the referee at Birmingham

Christophe Berra remonstrates with the referee at Birmingham

Once again it was not a terrible performance from the Blues, but defensive errors and a lack of final ball in the final third means they are not coming out on top in the fine margin affairs they used to.


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They remain 17th in the Championship table and five points above the drop zone ahead of Saturday’s trip to Wigan, while no-frills Birmingham are now only outside the play-off places on goal difference.

McCarthy made one enforced change to his team having named the same staring XI for the previous three matches – Myles Kenlock replaced the injured Jonas Knudsen at left-back.

Luke Varney is adjudged to have handled in the box for Birmingham's penalty

Luke Varney is adjudged to have handled in the box for Birmingham's penalty

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Town started with good intensity and created the game’s first opening in the second minute when McGoldrick timed his run to the near post perfectly, but couldn’t get a good connection on a decent volley chance at the edge of the six-yard box.

Town left-winger Tom Lawrence had been a thorn in Cardiff’s side all game at the weekend and continued that impressive form. Time and again he drove at the home defence and caused chaos. The Leicester loanee’s run and cross led to Ryan Shotton producing a last-ditch block on McGoldrick in the 13th minute.

Moments later, Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had to be quick off his line to hack clear outside his box following a short Cole Skuse back-pass.

Adam Webster pulling a goal back at Birmingham with a far post header

Adam Webster pulling a goal back at Birmingham with a far post header

The home side had huffed and puffed, making a string of unforced errors. They forced a fine save out of Bialkowski in the 25th minute though when Lukas Jutkiwicz’s powerful snap shot on the edge of the box was pushed around the post at full-stretch.

Home keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, a fellow Pole, made an even better reaction stop at the other end in the 31st minute. Lawrence again was the man at the heart of things with a driving run to the by-line and, after his cut-back was stabbed away, McGoldrick’s crisp, rising, first-time shot was pushed over the bar.

Birmingham’s breakthrough came in the 41st minute after a long-ball led to Jutkiewicz’s well-struck shot being blocked behind by Chambers.

Mick McCarthy remonstrates with the referee after the final whistle at Birmingham

Mick McCarthy remonstrates with the referee after the final whistle at Birmingham

From the resultant corner, Jutkiewicz ended up clubbing another shot at goal from the edge of the box and Varney, without thinking, stuck his arms out to the side, as he turned, to stop the ball. It happened in a flash.

Donaldson netted from the spot with a cheeky dink down the middle, Bialkowski having dived to his left.

Rowett’s men started the second half on the front foot.

Michael Morrison heads home the winner for Birmingham against Ipswich last night

Michael Morrison heads home the winner for Birmingham against Ipswich last night

McCarthy had said pre-match that Birmingham are very much like his team that finished sixth in 2014/15 – no frills, resolute and a threat at set-pieces.

That comparison was spot-on as the home side, who had never excited in open play, doubled their lead from a corner.

Centre-back Michael Morrison – who was born in Bury St Edmunds and grew up in Haverhill – was left unmarked to head home Cotterill’s delivery at the far post.

McCarthy introduced Pitman for Varney in a like-for-like change just after the hour mark, then Sears and Williams replaced Ward and McGoldrick.

The changes injected a bit of life into a game that was fading into nothingness. Within seconds, good work by Lawrence and Sears led to a golden opening for Jonathan Douglas in the box but the 35-year-old spooned a woeful outside of the boot effort well over the bar.

A minute later, Town halved the deficit in simple but brilliant fashion. Lawrence’s curling delivery from the left was inch-perfect and Webster arrived at the far post to emphatically find the back of the net with a thumping, towering header.

It was only the fifth away league goal Town had scored (in 10 matches) this season.

McCarthy’s men continued to attack and, after more good work by Sears and fine Kenlock cross, Chambers got the direction on his far post header all wrong.

Birmingham began to sit deeper and deeper in an attempt to protect their lead and Ipswich had a goal disallowed in the 89th minute. Berra – who had scored three times on his previous three appearances at St Andrew’s – headed home Lawrence’s corner at the far post, but referee Darren Bond ruled he had illegally climbed on top of Shotton.

Lawrence then won Town a free-kick right on the edge of the box with another driving run in stoppage-time, but he then wastefully fired the dead ball well over with plenty of his team-mates jostling in the area.

And there was still time for one more piece of refereeing controversy as a foul was given against, not for, Douglas in the home box.

BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Shotton, Morrison, Spector, Grounds; Davis (Robinson 90), Gleeson, Kieftenbeld, Cotterill (Maghoma 74); Donaldson (Adams 45), Jutkiewicz.

Unused subs: Legzdins, Cogley, Tesche, Solomon-Otabor.

Booked: Cotterill (38)

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Kenlock; Ward (Williams 67), Skuse, Douglas, Lawrence; McGoldrick (Sears 67), Varney (Pitman 61).

Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Dozzell.

Booked: Chambers (39), Berra (90)

Attendance: 15,212 (490 away)

Referee: Darren Bond

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