Match report: Ipswich Town 2 Leeds United 1 – Pitman’s late header seals fully deserved win
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Substitute Brett Pitman headed home in the second minute of stoppage-time to secure Ipswich Town a fully deserved 2-1 come-from-behind win over Leeds United at Portman Road this evening.
Souleymane Doukara scored with just 12 seconds on the clock following a series of sloppy errors by Mick McCarthy’s men, but the Blues increasingly dominant from that moment onwards in what was arguably their best performance of the season so far.
Luke Chambers headed home the equaliser five minutes after the restart and Town then had several near misses in a one-sided second period.
It looked as though an entertaining night may ultimately end in frustration, but then the impressive Ryan Fraser produced a glorious touch and cross for Pitman to nod home from close-range.
Victory – Ipswich’s eighth in 12 league outings – sees them leapfrog Brighton into fifth spot in the Championship table. It was Leeds’ first defeat in nine matches across all competitions.
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After his fringe players flopped in the fortunate FA Cup 2-2 home draw with League Two side Portsmouth on Saturday, Blues boss McCarthy reverted to his tried and trusted league line-up.
The only alteration to the team that started in the goalless draw at Burnley was a fit-again Jonathan Douglas replacing Luke Hyam in midfield.
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Leeds United boss Steve Evans slammed his players following their 1-1 home draw with MK Dons and made four changes to that line-up for the FA Cup. That team duly produced a 2-0 win against Rotherham and, as a result, he stuck with the majority of them three days’ later – leaving regulars Stuart Dallas, Luke Murphy and Mirco Antenucci on the bench.
The upshot of all of the above was that seven of Town’s outfield players were playing after a week’s rest, while that only applied to two of the Leeds team.
Portman Road was left stunned after Leeds broke the deadlock just 12 seconds after taking the kick-off. The ball was worked backwards, lumped forwards and Chambers failed to get much distance or direction on his clearing header. Douglas then got his attempt to control the ball all wrong and ended up cushioning it perfectly into the past of striker Doukara, who punished the succession of errors by producing a fine low finish in to the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Ipswich responded well and immediately got on the front foot. One spell of crisp, first-time passing ended with Daryl Murphy bursting into the area and forcing keeper Marco Silvestri to turn an outside of the boot shot around the post.
From the resultant corner Chambers felt he was man-handled, but the referee was unmoved by the home skipper’s strong penalty appeals. Soon afterwards, Fraser’s run and shot was gathered by the keeper.
It required a smart reaction stop from Dean Gerken to prevent Tommy Smith scoring an own goal in the 12th minute. After Mustapha Carayol had breezed forwards down the left and provided a low cross, Smith had stuck out a leg at the near post and diverted the ball on target.
Kevin Bru – playing in the No.10 role – soon began to see more of the ball. His whipped cross from the left somehow evaded everyone, bounced in the six-yard box and went behind. Moments later, his swerving long-range effort was well-held at the near post by Silvestri.
Town went into the game with the Championship’s worst record in terms of pass completion statistics, but they zipped the ball around well on this occasion. Another patient spell of build-up ended with Murphy’s turn and shot from long-range being gathered at the second attempt.
It required a fine clearing header from Charlie Daniels to prevent Douglas meeting Jonas Knudsen’s dangerous cross as the half neared its conclusion.
And there was still time for Town to test Silvestri again just before the interval. Following good interplay between Chambers and Bru down the right, Leeds failed to clear a cross and Fraser’s well-hit shot was clawed out of the top corner one-handed by Leeds’ keeper.
Town started the second half as they ended the first – on the front foot. Within three minutes of the restart Sears had fired over the bar from the edge of the box following good link-up play by Murphy.
You sensed it was only a matter of when, not if, Ipswich drew level and that moment arrived in the 50th minute. Fraser got beyond Scott Wootton down the left, stood up a cross and Chambers climbed above his marker to head home from six yards out.
Ipswich remained the team on top and pushed for another goal. Fraser was again at the heart of things just before the hour mark when he scampered forwards. When his half-cleared cross fell at the feet of Cole Skuse the home fans shouted ‘shoot’ and the midfielder duly obliged. One classy touch set him up and then came a curling side-footed effort which whistled just past the post.
It was once again fine margins for Town in the 72nd minute. Bru’s inswinging cross from the right was just inches – and that’s no exaggeration – too high for both Murphy and Chambers in the box. The Blues duo had both been steaming in and one of them seemed destined to head home.
And, once again, Town were just a hair’s breadth away from taking the lead with five minutes to go after Silvestri raced off his line and out of his area in an attempt to clear Luke Hyam’s ball over the top. The alert Fraser nicked the ball away from the visiting keeper, provided a quick low cross from the by-line and the ball brushed the studs of the sliding Pitman inside the six-yard box.
At that moment it looked as though Town would end the match having dominated every statistic but having to make do with just one point. Then, in the second minute of stoppage-time, the Blues got the breakthrough they fully deserved.
Fraser plucked the ball out of the sky with a delightful right-footed touch then immediately pushed it into his path with his left thigh. The cross was inch-perfect and substitute Pitman timed his run brilliantly to head home emphatically from six-yards out.
You just can’t beat midweek nights under the lights at Portman Road. Incredibly, that’s now 15 straight home wins on a Tuesday evening for the Blues.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Douglas, Skuse; Sears, Bru (Hyam 84), Fraser; Murphy (Pitman 78).
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Oar, Maitland-Niles, Varney.
Booked: Douglas (58), Chambers (80)
LEEDS UTD (4-1-4-1): Silvestri; Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor; Bridcutt; Byram, Mowatt (Phillips 60), Cook (Antenucci 79), Carayol (Dallas 64); Doukara.
Unused subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Murphy.
Attendance: 19,146 (1,259 away)
Referee: Frederick Graham