Match report: Huddersfield Town 2 Ipswich Town 0 – A week to forget for the Blues
Ipswich Town’s week to forget concluded with a 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town.
Coming off the back of their televised FA Cup horror show at non-league Lincoln on Tuesday night, the Blues defended resolutely until Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown broke the deadlock with a fine solo goal four minutes before the break.
The Terriers always looked the more fluid, confident and threatening side though and Christopher Schindler’s rebound finish in the 57th minute only exacerbated that trend.
This was the first time this season that David Wagner’s men have won a league game by more than a single goal – and they didn’t really have to get out of second gear. They move up to third in the table.
Ipswich, meanwhile, remain 14th ahead of a tough looking run of fixtures – Preston (a), Derby (h), Reading (h), Aston Villa (a), Brighton (a), Leeds (h) and Norwich (a).
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Blues boss Mick McCarthy made four changes to the team which suffered a humiliating 1-0 defeat at non-league side Lincoln City in midweek. Kevin Bru, Andre Dozzell and Freddie Sears – who all started in the 3-2 home win over Blackburn only to be rested in the cup – returned to the team, replacing Grant Ward, Jonathan Douglas and Leon Best. More of a surprise was new free agent signing Jordan Spence, who has been without a club since his release by MK Dons last summer, replacing Josh Emmanuel at right wing-back.
Dean Gerken retained his place in goal as first-choice custodian Bartosz Bialkowski was ruled out through illness.
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Huddersfield boss David Wagner made two enforced changes to his team following their 2-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend. Key men Aaron Mooy (back) and Jack Payne (suspended) were replaced by Rajiv Van La Parra and Jonathan Hogg.
Town created the game’s first opening, in the third minute, when Tom Lawrence won a free-kick on the edge of the box with some nimble footwork. The Leicester City loanee’s subsequent curling set-piece attempt lacked conviction though and was comfortably held by keeper Danny Ward.
It was a cagey start to the game by both teams, but the Terriers, playing a fluid 4-2-3-1 system, began to find their stride around the quarter of an hour mark. Only a reactionary save from Gerken, when he tipped Elias Kachunga’s unmarked header over the bar, prevented the hosts breaking the deadlock.
Some more good interplay from Huddersfield, which started with a fine switch from left-back Chris Lowe, ended with Kachunga again getting his head on a cross from the right. This time he put his attempt just over the bar, albeit with the offside flag raised.
Wagner’s men threatened again when the lively Brown cut the ball back from the by-line, but Town skipper Luke Chambers was there to make a fine block on Nahki Wells.
The game’s momentum shifted a little around the half hour mark as Ipswich improved. Spence, who looked far from ring-rusty, produced a sumptuous raking pass from right to left and the energetic Sears cut inside, ran at is marker before firing an angled effort just over at the near post.
Huddersfield created yet another headed chance for Kachunga in the 34th minute. Phillip Billing started the move with a smart Maradona-spin beyond Cole Skuse on te edge of the box, his pass left led to Rajiv Van La Parra’s cross, but Kachunga could only head straight at Gerken at the far post.
Ipswich got back on the front foot though and had a spell of pressure. Bru’s high press led to a turn over in possession, then Lawrence appealed in vain for a handball after his shot in the box as blocked. Moments later, Spence fizzed a low ball across the face of goal.
It was Huddersfield who went into the break in front though thanks to a fine solo goal from Chelsea loanee Brown. The 20-year-old – who spent the first half of the season on loan at Rotherham – received the ball on the half-turn, accelerated beyond the flat-footed Dozzell and drove forwards before caressing a curling side-footed shot inside the post from the edge of the area.
McCarthy responded by replacing Dozzell with Douglas at the break.
Just like the first period, it was a cagey opening to the second half. Then Huddersfield scored their killer second in the 57th minute.
A clever, disguised reverse pass from La Parra found Billing in the box and, after his first-time, angled, bouncing snap-shot was well-parried by Gerken, centre-back Schindler did superbly to steer a left-footed rebound chance high into the net.
Ipswich responded and came mightily close to quickly halving the deficit when, after a long ball forwards, Spence latched onto Douglas’ flick-on and fizzed a cross-cum-shot inches past the far post. Douglas, who had continued his run, was close to getting on the end of the move he started.
Huddersfield were soon back on the front foot though and Kachunga headed just wide at the far post from Lowe’s deep cross. Moments later, Van La Parra jinked his way inside from the left and curled a shot just wide.
The hosts were clearly oozing confidence as they began to entertain the crowd with some flicks and tricks.
McCarthy brought on 6ft 6in striker Kieffer Moore – the recent signing from non-league side Forest Green Rovers – for Spence in the 67th minute.
The fit-again Brett Pitman replaced Bru with 73 minutes on the clock.
Huddersfield had a golden chance to extend their lead in the 81st minute when Kachunga’s deflected cross fell perfectly for an unmarked Michael Hefele in the six-yard box. The German centre-back completely mis-judged the flight of the ball though.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-2-3-1): Ward; Smith, Schindler, Hefele, Lowe; Hogg (Whitehead 86), Billing; Kachunga, Brown (Lolley 77), La Parra; Wells (Hudson 89).
Unused subs: Coleman, Cranie, Bunn, Stankovic.
IPSWICH TOWN (3-5-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Digby, Berra; Spence (Moore 67), Skuse, Bru (Pitman 73), Dozzell (Douglas 46), Knudsen; Lawrence, Sears.
Unused subs: Crowe, Emmanuel, Nydam, Ward.
Referee: Andy Davies