MATCH REPORT: Huddersfield Town 0 Ipswich Town 2
Ipswich Town once again displayed their powers of rapid recovery with a comfortable 2-0 win at Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town.
Paul Anderson’s superb sixth minute strike and Daryl Murphy’s instinctive finish just after the half an hour was the very least the dominant visitors deserved in a rampant opening period.
Mick McCarthy’s men then took the sting out of the game in a fairly uneventful second period.
It means that the Blues have followed up their last five defeats with victories, the Suffolk outfit refusing to let their dreams of finishing in the play-off places to die.
With sixth-place Reading losing 3-1 at Bournemouth, Ipswich – along with the Cherries and Brighton (4-1 winners at Leicester) – have moved back to within two points of the top six with just five games to play.
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Blues boss Mick McCarthy made two changes to his starting line-up following last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers, reverting to the team which kicked-off the 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest.
Striker Frank Nouble and midfielder Anthony Wordsworth both dropped to the bench to be replaced in the wide areas by Anderson and Stephen Hunt, with young Manchester City loanee Alex Henshall named on the bench for the first time.
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Jay Tabb, Paul Green and Paul Taylor were the three members of the 21-man travelling squad to miss out completely.
The Blues started on the front foot and created a golden chance to break the deadlock in the fifth minute. However, after Hunt’s neat flick sent Crystal Palace loanee Jonny Williams scampering into the box, the livewire attacking midfielder fired too close to keeper Alex Smithies and he saved at the second attempt.
Moments later the visitors were in front thanks to a sublime finish from Anderson.
The right-winger received the ball with his back to goal out on the touchline, cut inside and then curled an inch-perfect shot into the far corner of the goal with his weaker left foot.
You could see the confidence drain out of the hosts, who went into the game winless in seven, and Ipswich pressed in search of a second. Williams came within inches of getting it in spectacular fashion, latching onto Cole Skuse’s clever reverse pass and fizzing a shot just the wrong side of crossbar and upright from the edge of the penalty box.
Only an excellent last-ditch intervention from towering defender Anthony Gerrard kept the score the same in the 19th minute, the home defender lunging in to somehow divert Luke Chambers’ close-range acrobatic effort over the bar after Christophe Berra had nodded an impressive Anderson cross back across goal.
The Terriers rode the storm and had a five minute spell where they kept possession well, but the final ball was continually lacking and the moans and groans that emanated from the John Smith’s Stadium faithful only helped add further edginess to their team’s play.
Ipswich gradually began to re-exert their dominance on the game and they created a golden chance to double the lead just after the half an hour mark.
After Williams’ run at the defence, the ball broke kindly for Anderson but he shot straight at Smithies in a one-on-one situation when it was probably easier to take it around the on-rushing custodian.
Just like at the start of the match, a missed opportunity was quickly followed up by a goal. After an Anderson corner was half-cleared, Berra headed the ball back into the danger area and Murphy reacted superbly to fling out a leg and poke the ball in at the near post. It was the Irishman’s 12th goal of an impressive season.
With the natives restless, Huddersfield started to crumble. The hosts made it through to half-time with no further damage inflicted though, clinging on to the age old cliché that 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline.
Huddersfield boss Mark Robins introduced Sean Scannell for Adam Hammill at the break and the tricky winger did inject some pace and energy which gave McCarthy’s men something to think about.
Huddersfield continued to lack quality with their final delivery though and Ipswich were content to keep their shape and take the sting out of the match.
There were ironic cheers from the home fans when midfielder Oliver Norwood – who certainly had an off day – was replaced by Duane Holmes just before the hour mark.
The visitors had to make an change of their own, left-back Aaron Cresswell seemingly taken off as a precaution – due to a groin niggle – and replaced by Tyrone Mings.
The first real chance of the second half arrived in the 72nd minute, Anderson’s clever flicked volley at the near post held by Smithies.
Huddersfield’s first shot on target of the match finally arrived in the 79th minute, Oscar Gobern’s angled shot saved by the legs of Dean Gerken before former Bradford City striker Nahki Wells headed the loose ball over the bar, much to the home fans’ despair.
It had been a comfortable evening’s work for the Blues, who will look to follow this victory up with a similar result at home to Doncaster on Saturday.