Match report: Bristol City 2 Ipswich Town 1 – Carbon copy goals see Town defeated again
Two carbon copy goals from defender Aden Flint saw injury-hit Ipswich Town lose 2-1 at relegation-battling Bristol City this afternoon.
The towering centre-back lost his marker to glance home headers, both from Luke Freeman corners, in the 18th and 35th minutes. On both occasions Town left the far post unguarded.
Substitute Brett Pitman’s slide finish halved the deficit in the 61st minute, but Ipswich never really kicked on and the Robins saw out the game for a second successive victory and a debut win for new boss Lee Johnson.
For Ipswich, it was a fourth defeat in five games across all competitions. They have dropped to eighth in the Championship table and are now three points adrift of the play-off places with 15 games to go.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy made four largely enforced changes to his starting line-up following the 1-0 defeat at QPR. Kevin Foley, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, new loan signing Ben Pringle and Daryl Murphy replaced Cole Skuse (ankle), Ryan Fraser (hamstring), Brett Pitman and Luke Varney.
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Surprisingly, he switched formation too – going with a wing-back system; Foley on the right, Jonas Knudsen on the left and Kevin Bru sitting deepest of the midfield three.
Following a cagey opening quarter of an hour, it required a sublime save by Bartosz Bialkowski to keep the scores level. Town’s Polish custodian, who had been in superb form at Loftus Road the previous weekend, showed brilliant reactions to get down low and flick Korey Smith’s deflected shot up over the bar with a flick of his wrist.
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Two minutes later he was helpless to prevent the Robins breaking the deadlock. Freeman’s corner from the right was good, Flint lost his marker and glanced a header across goal and in off the far post which the visitors had left unguarded.
The home side visibly grew in confidence and one flowing move down the left ended with Smith curling an effort just wide.
Increasingly, Bristol City began to get a lot of joy down that side of the pitch. So when Marlon pack’s snapshot bounced just wide, McCarthy decided it was time for a tactical switch; Foley moved into the centre of midfield – a role he has played only a handful of times in his career – and Town went to 4-4-2.
That change did seem to settle the visitors and, for five minutes or so, they had City on the back foot.
It was therefore a major body-blow when the Robins doubled their lead with a carbon copy goal of their opener. Freeman’s inswinging corner was good, Flint lost the attentions of Christophe Berra and the towering centre-back again glanced a fine header inside the far post. Amazingly, Town had once again opted not to stand a man on that upright.
All of a sudden a sold-out Ashton gate was rocking and you could see the Town players’ shoulders slump. Tomlin provided some flicks and tricks by the corner flag, the home team pushed for a third and the half-time whistle came as a relief to the shell-shocked Blues.
Pitman – who had said in the build-up that he hates being labelled a ‘super-sub’ – was introduced for Maitland-Niles in the 53rd minute and his clever movement soon livened up Town.
Within minutes the former Bristol City man flicked on a long ball and Murphy’s fierce angled effort was pushed over the bar by Richard O’Donnell. Then, on the hour mark, O’Donnell showed good reactions to keep out Murphy’s header, the Irishman having met Sears’ cross 10 yards out.
Ipswich did reduce the arrears moments later, Pitman chesting Murphy’s reverse ball forwards and sliding a cool finish into the bottom corner. It appeared to be game on.
The Robins responded really well though and soon got back on the front foot. In the 70th minute it required another good stop from Bialkowski to deny substitute Kieran Agard. From the resultant corner, Korey Smith lashed a shot inches wide.
Knudsen produced an important last-ditch tackle on Smith in the 77th minute. At the other end, Town went close when Tommy Smith rifled a fine 25-yard effort narrowly wide.
McCarthy and Terry Connor urged their players forwards in the closing stages, but long-ball tactics led to nothing and Bristol City saw the game out expertly.
BRISTOL CITY (4-4-1-1): O’Donnell; Little, Flint, Baker, Golbourne; Freeman, Smith (cpt), Pack, Bryan (Wagstaff 88); Tomlin (Agard 63); Kodjia (Wilbraham 63). Unused subs: Fielding, Pearce, Vyner, Reid.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (Pitman 53), Foley (Toure 90), Bru, Pringle (Varney 68); Sears, Murphy.
Unused subs: Henly, Digby, Kenlock, Tabb.
Attendance: 15,736 (1,443 away)
Referee: Tony Harrington