Match report: Ipswich Town 1 Fulham 1 – Knudsen’s late leveller salvages smidgen of pride
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Jonas Knudsen scored a stoppage-time equaliser to salvage Ipswich Town a smidgen of pride from tonight’s 1-1 home draw with Fulham.
Moussa Dembele gave the Championship strugglers a 66th minute lead on another hugely frustrating evening at Portman Road.
The Blues didn’t muster their first attempt on goal – on or off target – until the 71st minute, while they didn’t test the keeper until 74th minute. Both efforts were met with hearty ironic cheers.
Knudsen fired in off the underside of the crossbar at the end of a slick move to make sure Town remain unbeaten against the Cottagers since 1953, but it was a goal which rather papered over the cracks of another lacklustre home display.
The statistics tell you everything. Town have scored just five first half goals in 24 matches on Suffolk soil this season, they are now winless in six and have claimed seven points from a possible 27.
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Mick McCarthy made three changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday. As promised, 16-year-old midfielder Andre Dozzell was handed his full debut, while the fit-again Cole Skuse and striker Brett Pitman also came into the side. Kevin Bru, Kevin Foley and David McGoldrick all dropped to the bench.
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic made four changes to his team following their 5-0 thrashing at Brighton last Friday.
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Another completely forgettable first half at Portman Road ensued. Town had the odd decent spell, but they reached the break without having mustered any sort of attempt on goal.
McCarthy’s men have scored just five first half goals in 24 games on home turf this season – and one of them was a penalty. Statistics can be mis-leading, but that one gives a pretty fair indication of the Blues’ inability to take games by the scruff of the match on Suffolk soil.
Dozzell certainly didn’t seem fazed on the big stage. In actual fact, he looked very comfortable on the ball. One attempted switch was intercepted early on but the idea drew warm applause. Moments later he showed good strength and composure when controlling the ball in a tight area.
After a very low-key start to proceedings, Town began to liven up. Knudsen’s back-heel set Freddie Sears away down the left, he crossed and Dozzell’s attempt at a clever heeled flick in the area didn’t quite come off.
Fulham were seeing little of the ball, but they posed far more of a threat in the final third. Christophe Berra produced a fine covering tackle on Rohan Ince, then Tommy Smith charged down Ross McCormack after Luke Chambers had left a gaping hole.
The game’s first genuine shot on goal finally arrived in the 19th minute when Moussa Dembele’s snap-shot from 25-yards went wide.
The only shot on target of the first half arrived in the 34th minute and, as he has done so often in 2016, keeper Bartosz Bialkowski came to Town’s rescue. The Polish custodian got down quickly and turned Ryan Tunnicliffe’s poked effort around the post with his fingertips following Lasse Vigen Christensen’s clever reverse pass into the box.
Ipswich had enjoyed the odd decent spell on the ball and another arrived in the 39th minute when, after some crisp interplay down the right, Liam Feeney’s excellent cross was well-defended. Former England international Scott Parker helped Fulham relieve the pressure with some classy play.
Former Town loanee Richard Stearman fired a shot well over the bar after McCormack’s corner was not dealt with in the 54th minute.
McCarthy made a double change shortly afterwards, replacing Dozzell and Douglas with McGoldrick and Bru. Dozzell had never looked out of place and was applauded from the field.
Stearman produced a fine covering tackle on Sears after a well-weighted pass from McGoldrick, while at the other end Dembele’s shot was deflected wide by Skuse.
Bialkowski again came to Town’s rescue in the 62nd minute when he did superbly to tip over Sam Hutchinson’s bullet header from a corner.
Fulham broke the deadlock in the 66th minute with a well-taken goal. Parker’s excellent run and visionary square pass set up Dembele and he coolly side-footed home from inside the box.
When Bru’s long-range effort flew wide in the 71st minute the home fans greeted the effort – their team’s first of the game on or off target – with hearty ironic cheers. Indeed, near residents must have thought that Town had scored. Sarcastic chants of ‘we’ve had a shot!’ ensued.
Fulham continued to pose a threat, particularly from corners, and centre-back Dan Burn headed just wide from another fine McCormack dead ball delivery.
Town’s first shot on target finally arrived in the 74th minute when Marcus Bettinelli pushed Pitman’s well-struck angled effort around the post. Cue more ironic cheers.
Ipswich had the ball in the net in the 88th minute after Pitman converted on the slide, but the referee had long blown for a handball committed by McGoldrick.
To their credit, Town – as they always do – kept plugging away. The equaliser arrived in the first minute of stoppage-time. McGoldrick produced a silky touch and pass, Sears pulled the ball back and Knudsen arrived late to fire in off the underside of the crossbar from near the penalty spot.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse, Douglas (Bru 54); Sears, Dozzell (McGoldrick 54), Feeney; Pitman.
Unused subs: Gerken, Digby, Kenlock, Foley, Hyam.
Booked: Smith (90+)
FULHAM (4-4-2): Bettinelli; Stearman, Hutchinson, Burn, Ream; Christensen (Fredericks 70), Ince, Parker (cpt) (Baird 88), Tunnicliffe; McCormack (Cairney 85), Dembele.
Unused subs: Lonergan, Garbutt, Woodrow, Smith.
Booked: Parker (86)
Attendance: 16,953 (457 away)
Referee: Paul Tierney