MATCH REPORT, GALLERY & REACTION: Derby County 1 Ipswich Town 1
Derby v Ipswich: Blues centre-back Christophe Berra struck seven minutes after the break, cancelling out Chris Martin’s 13th minute opener, to secure a much-needed draw at hotly-tipped Derby County.
Coming into the game off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to rivals Norwich City, and with star striker David McGoldrick absent amidst mounting speculation that he could be sold to Leicester City before Monday’s transfer deadline, the mood surrounding the Town camp was doom and gloom ahead of kick-off.
The Rams – who narrowly lost in the Play-Off Final last season – fielded the same starting XI that thumped Fulham 5-1 the previous weekend, while their bench contained rising star Will Hughes and Real Madrid loanee Omar Mascarell.
Town’s squad, by stark contrast, was severely depleted. With McGoldrick officially having not travelled due to a dead leg, Cole Skuse absent through illness, Elliott Hewitt (dead leg) joining Cameron Stewart and Stephen Hunt in the treatment room and Conor Sammon ineligible to face his parent club, Mick McCarthy handed Jonathan Parr, Teddy Bishop and Kevin Bru their full league debuts for Ipswich.
When Derby came flying out of the traps, opening the scoring in the 13th minute thanks to yet another piece of sloppy defending from Town, it looked like a long afternoon was in store. McCarthy’s men settled though and fully deserved their share of the spoils after an encouraging second half display full of positives.
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The game’s opening goal was certainly one to file under ‘defensive howlers’ for Ipswich. First Luke Hyam, under little pressure, sliced the ball high into the air in his own box. Berra was easily out-jumped by Martin, keeper Dean Gerken saved, Johnny Russell’s header was blocked on the line by Parr and Martin forced home the loose ball.
Ipswich then survived penalty appeals as Jeff Hendrick went down under the challenge of Berra in the box, riding their luck on several other occasions, but did settle and forced several corners – wasting each of them – in the lead up to the break.
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The equaliser arrived in the 52nd minute, Paul Anderson finally providing a good set-piece delivery, his deep free-kick met by the head of Berra, the ball bouncing down into the ground and up into the roof of the net.
Having failed to score in four-and-a-half years at Wolves, the Scottish centre-back has now netted eight times in 12 months for Town.
Ipswich – who saw Tyrone Mings replace the injured Luke Chambers (concussion) at half-time – were much-improved after the break. Anderson was denied by keeper Lee Grant at the near post following Jay Tabb’s pull-back, while Bishop’s dipping shot from 25 yards was tipped over the bar.
It then became an end-to-end match. Martin headed over a Cyrus Christie cross and Gerken made a smart stop from Jamie Ward, while at the other end Daryl Murphy’s looping header was cleared off the line by Martin and Bru’s clever chip almost found Luke Hyam in the box.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy: “I’m not saying we were awesome second half, but compared to the first half we went from awful to awesome. It was a really top class second half performance. The difference was we actually started passing the ball to people in blue shirts. In the first half they were panicking us, we were kicking it to them and they’re a good side – if you keep giving them the ball back they’ll keep attacking you.
“We kept the ball better in the second half. We’re tough, we’re courageous, but we had to be a bit more courageous with the ball. We were and I thought we had the better chances in the second half.
“I’d be lying if I said when it got to 1-1 I wouldn’t have taken a point. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t think we could win it.”
DERBY COUNTY (4-3-3): Grant; Christie, Keogh (cpt), Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick (Hughes 26), Eustace (Dawkins 81), Bryson; Ward, Martin, Russell (Best 70).
Unused subs: Roos, Whitbread, Shotton, Mascareel.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt) (Mings 46), Berra, Smith, Parr; Anderson (Nouble 80), Hyam, Bishop (Henshall 67), Tabb; Bru; Murphy.
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Clarke, McQueen, Bajner.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton