MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 2 AFC Bournemouth 2

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth.
Sky Bet Championship.
Town players walk away in despair as Bournemou

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth. Sky Bet Championship. Town players walk away in despair as Bournemouth score a second goal. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Ipswich v Bournemouth: Ipswich Town once again passed up the chance to move into the Championship play-off places with a 2-2 home draw against AFC Bournemouth.

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth.
Sky Bet Championship.
Paul Anderson scores for Town in the first hal

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth. Sky Bet Championship. Paul Anderson scores for Town in the first half. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Town broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 36th minute when Paul Anderson converted Cole Skuse’s low cross at the far post, but Bournemouth went into the break deservedly level thanks to Steve Cook’s fine overhead kick finish moments before the interval.

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth.
Sky Bet Championship.
Town celebrate after Paul Taylor scores taking

Ipswich Town v AFC Bournemouth. Sky Bet Championship. Town celebrate after Paul Taylor scores taking them to 2-1. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Half-time substitute Paul Green nodded the Blues back in front in the 56th minute, but the Cherries responded superbly again. And although their equaliser came courtesy of a major deflection, Matt Ritchie’s strike hitting Skuse in the wall to wrong-foot keeper Dean Gerken, the visitors were undoubtedly good value for a share of the spoils.

Nevertheless, the Blues will reflect on their Easter weekend with frustration. Twice the door to the top-six was left open and twice they failed to walk through it.

A favourable set of Good Friday results meant they controlled their own destiny, but Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Watford meant Mick’s men were once again requiring Brighton to slip up.

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And slip-up they did, the Seagulls held to a 1-1 draw at home to free-falling Blackpool yesterday.

Ipswich now head into their final two games – at already-promoted Burnley on Saturday, followed by the visit of mid-table Sheffield Wednesday on May 3 – as one of seven teams all still vying for the final play-off spot.

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McCarthy made three changes to his starting line-up yesterday. Christophe Berra and Luke Hyam – who have made 42 and 36 starts respectively this season – both missed out through injury, while Frank Nouble dropped to the bench.

It meant that Middlesbrough loanee Frazer Richardson was handed his first start for the club at right-back, with Luke Chambers moving to his preferred position of centre-back.

Wide men Anderson and Stephen Hunt returned to the team, the former having recovered from the hamstring problem which had kept him out at Vicarage Road.

Bournemouth came into the game with an extra day of rest behind them following a 4-2 home defeat to 10-man Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday.

Following a cagey start to the match, Bournemouth gradually began to get on top. Ipswich survived one spell of pressure thanks to last-ditch blocks in the box from Chambers and Anderson.

Town were looking pretty one-dimensional as an attacking force, with their first shot on goal not arriving until the 34th minute – Aaron Cresswell’s speculative effort going high and wide.

The pre-match atmosphere had been electric, but you could sense the frustration creeping in as the Blues struggled to find any rhythm.

The home side’s opener therefore came against the run of play. Skuse nodded Hunt’s short throw-in towards the right corner flag, showed a turn of pace and produced a wonderful low cross into the box. Daryl Murphy just missed it at the near post, but Anderson slid in to convert high into the net at the back post.

With the crowd lifted, Ipswich suddenly came to life. Two minutes later, Cresswell’s curling free-kick from the edge of the box was tipped onto the post by the full-stretch Lee Camp.

Bournemouth rode the storm and soon got back on top themselves. Richardson and Cresswell both got important toes on the ball in the box, with Anderson producing a fine block on Andrew Surman after a corner had caused havoc in the home box.

The Cherries finally got the goal their play deserved a minute before the break. Charlie Daniels’ free-kick from the left ended up looping up into the air after a number of players had contested the header, with centre-back Cook afforded far too much space to produce a fine overhead kick finish at the far post.

Blues boss McCarthy introduced Green for Anthony Wordsworth (dead leg) at the break and the Leeds loanee put the home team back in front in the 56th minute. After Jonny Williams had been fouled by Simon Francis down the left, Cresswell’s free-kick delivery was flicked on by Tommy Smith and Green stooped to nod home from inside the six-yard box.

Bournemouth once again responded and Marc Pugh missed a gilt-edged chance to level things up in the 66th minute, the winger firing over an unguarded net from 10 yards following Francis’ cut-back. He was immediately subbed.

The away team then benefitted from a huge slice of luck when their second equaliser of the afternoon arrived in the 80th minute. After Smith had fouled sub Tokelo Rantie on the edge of the box, Surman tapped the free-kick to his left and Ritchie’s well-hit effort took a major deflection off of Skuse on the end of the wall to wrong-foot Gerken. The keeper stood no chance.

Both teams then pushed for a winner in a rip-roaring finish to an entertaining match. Town sub Tyrone Mings glanced a Cresswell free-kick delivery just wide of the far post, while Gerken had to parry away Kermorgant’s volley from the edge of the box and turn Grabban’s low shot around the post.

A draw was not ideal for either team, but was probably the fair result.

AFC BOURNEMOUTH (4-4-2): Camp; Francis (cot), Ward, Cook, Daniels (Smith 66); Pugh (Rantie 66), O’Kane, Surman, Ritchie; Kermorgant, Grabban.

Subs: Allsop, Elphick, Harte, Macdonald, Fraser.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Richardson, Chambers (cpt), Smith, Cresswell; Anderson (Green 53), Skuse, Wordsworth (Nouble 46), Hunt; Williams (Mings 77); Murphy.

Subs: Loach, Tabb, Taylor, Marriott.

Attendance: 20,356 (890 away)

Referee: Andy D’Urso.

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