Match report: Bristol City 2 Ipswich Town 0 – Controversial penalty and wonder striker sees Blues return to losing ways
Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at Bristol City for the second season in succession courtesy of a controversial first half penalty and a second half screamer.
In a tight game short on goalmouth action and quality, the Robins broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Lee Tomlin converted a spot-kick questionably awarded after Bartosz Bialkowski felled Tammy Abraham in the area.
Their killer second arrived in the 72nd minute when Luke Freeman found the top corner with an exquisite left-footed volley from the edge of the box.
Town once again produced a flat follow-up display to a victory. After the impressive 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday came the poor 2-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. After the 3-0 home triumph against QPR came this, another powderpuff display.
Mick McCarthy’s men haven’t recorded back-to-back wins all season and have slipped to 16th in the Championship table. Bristol City came into this game off the back of three straight defeats. Indeed, this was only their second win in nine matches across all competitions.
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McCarthy named an unchanged line-up, with Myles Kenlock replacing Teddy Bishop on the bench.
Meanwhile, Bristol City manager Lee Johnson made five alterations to his team following a 2-1 loss at Reading as Adam Matthews, Scott Golbourne, Korey Smith, Luke Freeman and Aaron Wilbraham came in for Mark Little, Joe Bryan, Gary O’Neil, Bobby Reid and Jamie Paterson.
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The hosts created the game’s first opening when, in the fourth minute, an inch-perfect Lee Tomlin switch, followed by a fine piece of skill and cross from opposite winger Luke Freeman, led to Adam Webster producing a last-ditch block on Wilbraham in the box.
Veteran striker Wilbraham, 37, was incensed that a goalkick, not a corner, was awarded. Moments later the former Norwich front man was booked for a late challenge on Christophe Berra.
Tomlin continued to produce some classy touches out on the left for the hosts, while Town centre-back Webster – dominant in the air and composed on the ball - once again caught the eye.
Ipswich created their first real chance of the game in the 21st minute when, after Grant Ward’s headed flick on, David McGoldrick drifted inside before seeing his shot blocked by the sliding Aden Flint.
With the two teams both set-up with similar 4-4-2 formations and tactics they continued to cancel each other out.
Town had a brief spell of pressure midway through the half when the Robins failed to clear their lines on numerous occasions, but McCarthy’s men couldn’t quite fashion a decent scoring chance.
City’s 31st minute opener, therefore, came against the run of play.
There looked to be little danger after a deep diagonal was flicked on, with the ball seemingly drifting out of play for a goalkick. Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski was a little hesitant, alert striker Tammy Abraham didn’t give up and, after getting a toe to the ball, he was clipped and went down.
Referee Stuart Attwel took an age to make a decision before pointing to the spot. Tomlin found the bottom left corner of the net from 12 yards out, despite Bialkowski diving the right way.
It was the first time that Bristol City have scored a first half goal at Ashton Gate this season and the home fans were lifted. Their players responded and Tomlin saw a run and shot headed over by Webster.
Ipswich were struggling to make the ball stick in the final third but did fashion a rare chance in the 42nd minute. After a fine turn of pace by Webster out the back, Lawrence’s neat touch set-up Ward who dragged his long-range shot just wide.
Town started the second half with attacking intent, but moves broke down at the vital moment. One Lawrence wide free-kick delivery was far too heavy.
The Blues came close to scoring an equaliser in the 55th minute. Cole Skuse got the ball off McGoldrick and then produced a fine return pass which meant his team-mate didn’t have to break his stride. Keeper Frank Fielding got a vital hand on the angled shot to turn it onto the far post.
Webster, unusually, lost the ball when trying to drive out the back. Thankfully for him, Marlon Pack’s attempted lob from the halfway line lacked power.
Town increasingly began to lack urgency and McCarthy responded by replacing Luke Varney and Grant Ward with Leon Best and Freddie Sears.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead when Freeman glanced a header inches past the post from Hordor Magnusson’s deep diagonal delivery.
Moments later, at the other end, Town left-back Jonas Knudsen badly over-hit a cross from a golden position as several team-mates were streaming into the box.
Bristol City’s killer second goal arrived in the 72nd minute – and what a goal it was. Knudsen’s clearing header from a wide free-kick delivery wasn’t bad, but when the ball dropped out of the sky Freeman connected with the cleanest of left-footed volleys to find the top corner and leave Bialkowski rooted to the spot.
Ashton gate erupted and City pushed for a third. Bialkowski saved from Abraham at the second attempt after a fine Freeman run and Wilbraham dummy, then Tomlin fired just wide from long-range.
BRISTOL CITY (4-4-2): Fielding; Matthews, Flint, Magnusson, Golbourne; Freeman (Brownhill 81), Pack, Smith (O’Neil 90+), Tomlin (Reid 86); Wilbraham (cpt), Abraham (cpt).
Unused subs: Lucic, Moore, Paterson, Engvall.
Booked: Wilbraham (7), Tomlin (38)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward (Sears 67), Douglas, Skuse, Lawrence (Williams 74); Varney (Best 67), McGoldrick.
Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Bru.
Attendance: 18,309 (1,115 away)
Referee: Stuart Attwell