Match report: Ipswich Town 0 Rotherham United 1 – Town booed off after another poor performance

Leon Best celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Rotherham United in the Ipswich Town v Rothe

Leon Best celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Rotherham United in the Ipswich Town v Rotherham United (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 19 March 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town produced another display devoid of creativity at Portman Road to lose 1-0 to relegation-battling Rotherham this afternoon.

Leon Best slid in to convert the only goal of the game in the 43rd minute, with the Blues the creators of their own downfall with a series of sloppy mistakes following their own free-kick.

Mick McCarthy had once again picked a team without any real forward-thinking midfield players and, although his team briefly started both halves encouragingly, this was probably their worst home performance of a season full of non-events at Portman Road.

Rotherham, resurgent under Neil Warnock’s management, are now unbeaten in five matches, have claimed the scalps of several high-flying sides and have moved out of the relegation zone. They were able to see this win out pretty comfortably though.

It was once again huff and puff stuff from Town, with the home fans ironically jeering rare attempts on goal, substitutions they felt were a long time in the offing and then roundly booing the players off the pitch at the final whistle.

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McCarthy usually waits on the field and shakes his players’ hands – win, lose or draw – but on this occasion he stormed straight down the tunnel amidst chants of ‘what a load of rubbish’.

Even when they beat Huddersfield, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn recently, Ipswich’s performances were far from convincing. They have now dropped back to eighth in the table and are once again four points adrift of the Championship play-off places with eight games to go.

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McCarthy named an unchanged starting line-up following Tuesday night’s scrappy 2-0 home victory over Blackburn, leaving several forward-thinking players – including new loan signing Liam Feeney – on the bench.

Rotherham boss Neil Warnock made four changes to his team following their dramatic 3-3 comeback draw against Derby the previous weekend.

Town have been criticised for never really taking home games by the scruff of the neck this season, but they started this match by showing encouraging signs that they wanted to get on the front foot.

For the opening 15 minutes the Blues’ players looked on the same wavelength and some of the build-up play was neat and patient.

Freddie Sears had a shot in the box held by keeper Lee Camp at the end of one smart move, while Jonas Knudsen’s low cross was scrambled away at the conclusion of another.

Town’s play rapidly regressed from that point onwards though. The ball began to spend more and more time in the air, while time-and-again simple passes went astray.

Rotherham’s first chance arrived in the 22nd minute after the ball span loose from a Luke Hyam challenge. The Town defence backed off Richard Smallwood, but his shot lacked conviction and Bartosz Bialkowski saved comfortably. It was, nevertheless, a warning sign.

The Millers had two more half chances in quick succession around the 37 minute mark, Lee Frecklington and Grant Ward both hooking efforts wide of the post after crosses into the box had been half-cleared.

When Luke Chambers poked an effort straight at Lee Camp, following Knudsen’s low cut-back, there were ironic cheers from the Portman Road faithful.

And when Ward’s deflected effort from the edge of the box was turned around the post by Bialkowski at the other end, the Blues fans became increasingly antsy.

The body blow arrived in the 43rd minute when Rotherham broke the deadlock and Ipswich were undoubtedly creators of their own downfall.

The move actually started with the Blues taking a free-kick just inside the Rotherham half quickly and Sears slinging a long ball into the box. After it was cleared, Jonathan Douglas gave the ball away sloppily and was then sluggish to react. All of a sudden, Matt Derbyshire was racing away down the right and had a completely unmarked Best to aim for in the box. His delivery was delayed, but Best was still able to slide home from inside the six-yard box just ahead of Christophe Berra.

Town have conceded several sloppy goals this season, but that was one of the worst.

The half-time whistle was greeted by resounding boos, while the half-time substitution of Feeney for Douglas was greeted with cheers.

Feeney, playing on the right side in what was now a 4-4-2 system, made an immediate impact with his pace and direct running.

Town forced five corners within six minutes of the restart, but rarely did they look like scoring from one. The closest they came was when, at the second phase, Chambers’ smart backheel set up Sears and his low cross was hacked away.

In the 57th minute, Feeney was again the creator when his cross from the right found Knudsen, the Danish defender’s header going straight at Camp. The crowd were lifted and tried to give their team some encouragement.

Instead of the momentum gathering pace, Town once again regressed though and the game became something of a non-event.

Just after the hour mark, Sears seized on a loose ball and drive forwards before lashing a shot wide.

In the 67th minute, Brett Pitman won a free-kick on the edge of the box with some neat footwork but then smashed the dead ball effort high and wide to shouts of derision.

When Pitman was subbed moments later he kicked out at the dug-out in frustration.

There may have still been 20 minutes to play, but increasingly there was a growing sense of inevitability about the result. You never sensed that Ipswich would force an equaliser, even when Ben Pringle and Kevin Bru were introduced.

Town’s best chance arrived in stoppage-time after Feeney’s direct-running forced yet another corner. Pringle’s low shot fizzed across the six-yard box and just evaded the studs of the sliding Berra.

The full-time whistle was greeted by resounding boos followed by chants of ‘what a load of rubbish’, with McCarthy storming straight down the tunnel instead of staying out to shake the hands of his players.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse, Douglas (Feeney 46), Hyam (Bru 74), Pitman (Pringle 70); Sears, Murphy.

Unused subs: Crowe, Digby, Foley, Maitland-Niles.

Booked: Knudsen (54)

ROTHERHAM UTD (4-1-4-1): Camp; Kelly, Doyley, Broadfoot (cpt), Mattock; Halford; G.Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Derbyshire (Newell 78); Best (Clarke-Harris 84).

Unused subs: Kenny, Wood, Green, Burke, D.Ward.

Booked: Halford (61)

Attendance: 20,318 (344 away)

Referee: Stephen Martin

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