Match report: Ipswich Town 0 Nottingham Forest 2 – Shambolic defending costs Blues again at Portman Road

Britt Assombalonga celebrates his second goal to take Forest 2-0 up in the Ipswich Town v Nottingham

Britt Assombalonga celebrates his second goal to take Forest 2-0 up in the Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 19 November 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town were again booed off the pitch at Portman Road after a 2-0 tea-time defeat to struggling Nottingham Forest in front of the Sky television cameras.

Britt Assombalonga profited from some shambolic home defending in the opening and closing seconds of the first half, with the Blues then unable to break down a team that parked the bus for the entirety of the second period.

Town kicked off the match but conceded with 17 seconds on the clock after a catalogue of errors led to Assombalonga sliding home at the far post, while another host of mistakes led to the alert striker nodding home his sixth goal of the campaign.

Forest played with six at the back after the break and Ipswich, with several creative sparks on the field, failed to show any nous to break down a team that registered both their first away win of the campaign and their first clean sheet of the campaign.

Mick McCarthy’s men have now won just one of their last six home games and, like after the 2-2 draw with Rotherham three weeks ago, when another two poor goals were conceded, the fans made their frustrations known at the full-time whistle.

Even the boos were half-hearted though. The official crowd was 15,417, but the swathes of empty seats suggest many season ticket holders – whose attendance is counted whether they turn up or not – had stayed at home.

Blues boss McCarthy made one enforced change to his team following the 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday prior to the international break – Josh Emmanuel replacing the injured Adam Webster in defence, with skipper Luke Chambers moving inside to his preferred role of centre-back.

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Forest manager Phillpe Montanier made two enforced alterations to his team following their 1-1 home draw with QPR – Thomas Lam and Daniel Pinillos, the latter making his first start in almost a year, replacing Damien Pereira (suspended) and Chris Cohen (injured) in their usual 3-5-2 system.

Ipswich started shambolically and looked affected by that for the remainder of a very shakey first half.

The Blues somehow managed to concede with 17 seconds on the clock, despite it being them who kicked the match off.

Forest hooked an early loose ball forwards in hope, Jonas Knudsen tamely headed the ball sideways, it went behind the off-balance Christophe Berra and, with Chambers having charged forwards, Ben Osborn was able to pick out Assombalonga for a fine slide finish at the far post. Keeper Bartosz Bialkowski could and probably should have done better.

The home players were rattled and proceeded to make a string of unforced errors all over the pitch.

Forest counter-attacked rapidly from defending a corner to force one of their own. Moments later, Teddy Bishop blindly passed the ball straight to Assombalonga in his own third and Grant Ward was forced to make a foul in a dangerous area.

Not long after that, Town’s midfield and defence backed off and Pajtim Kasami’s low shot from the edge of the box was pushed around the post by Bartosz Bialkowski.

The home fans – those that had turned up instead of staying at home to watch on TV - roared at their team to wake up following such a sluggish start.

Ipswich did finally perk up for a spell just before the half hour mark, with ex-Forest striker David McGoldrick at the heart of everything good.

Tom Lawrence – the home team’s only truly busy player – sent an ambitious 30-yard free-kick just wide.

Then, in the 30th minute, Lawrence’s exquisite heeled flick found McGoldrick in the box. The silky forward did the hard work by drifting inside and leaving Matt Mills on his backside, but then failed to find the finish with his shot at a good height for keeper Vladimir Stojkovic to push around the post.

That was the closest the home side came top scoring all game.

Town’s players went back into their shells after that five minutes of fury and Forest came close to doubling their advantage in the 38th minute when Damien Perquis’ header at a corner was cleared off the line by Knudsen’s thigh at the far post.

McGoldrick tried to show some fight with a firm sliding tackle on the halfway that won the ball but left Kasami in a heap. Controversially he was booked.

Then, with two minutes of stoppage-time almost up, Ipswich players again produced a catalogue of errors to concede.

First the Blues were slow to react to the free-kick being passed down the line, then Knudsen managed to get in the way of team-mate Berra when he was about to head away Assombalonga’s cross. Town players then failed to win a series of contested headers and Mills’ flick-on was nodded home from close-range by the alert Assombalonga.

Blues boss McCarthy responded with a double change at the break, replacing Bishop and Grant Ward with Jonny Williams and Kevin Bru. Lawrence pushed up alongside McGoldrick and Sears in a front three, with Williams just behind them in an ultra-attacking formation as Town tried to find a way back into the game.

The two substitutes almost made an immediate impact when Bru’s pass found Williams and his cross was blocked behind.

Forest were playing with five at the back and midfielder Thomas Lam constantly sitting on the defence’s toes. Ipswich struggled to find a way through and Forest offered a reminder of their counter threat when Henri Lansbury’s shot from the edge of the box was beaten away by Bialkowski.

Ipswich continued to find it difficult to break down a red wall, though the visitors were a little fortunate when Stojkovic palmed a low cross into danger and it fell nicely for a defender to hack clear.

Forest then came close to having a three-goal cushion in the 64th minute when Kasami rattled the outside of the post from 12 yards. The Swiss midfielder perhaps should have done better after the ball span to him in the box after Berra’s challenge on sub Apostolos Vellios.

McCarthy then replaced right-back Emmanuel with striker Luke Varney with 20 minutes to go as Town committed more and more men to the attack. Forest continued to park the bus.

Varney provided the Blues with some much-needed physicality in the final third. His glancing header, from a deep Lawrence free-kick delivery, was comfortably held by keeper Stojkovic. The Serbian custodian then when down dramatically under minimal contact by Chambers to waste some time, much to the ire of the home crowd.

Town got plenty of crosses into the box, but they were defended time and time again. It was all very hopeful, much like two late penalty appeals.

Ipswich had their first spot-kick shouts waved away by referee Peter Bankes in the 77th minute after Lawrence tricked his way inside. After beating Lansbury the Town winger went down a little dramatically as Michael Mancienne wafted a leg.

Lawrence then had another penalty appeal turned down in the 85th minute when he skipped to the side of Perquis inside the area and was partially blocked by the defender’s thigh. Again, referee Bankes was unmoved.

Town host QPR this coming Saturday.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Emmanuel (Varney 70), Chambers (cpt), Berra, Knudsen; Ward (Williams 46), Bishop (Bru 46), Skuse, Lawrence; McGoldrick, Sears.

Unused subs: Gerken, Kenlock, Douglas, Dozzell.

Booked: McGoldrick (44)

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (3-5-2): Stojkovic; Mills, Perquis, Worrall; Lichaj, Kasami, Lansbury (cpt), Lam (Grant 85), Pinillos (Mancienne 62); Osborn; Assombalonga (Vellios 57).

Unused subs: Henderson, Dumitru-Cardoso, Carayol, Lica.

Booked: Vellios (57), Lansbury (69)

Attendance: 15,417 (523 away)

Referee: Peter Bankes

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