MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Ipswich v Sheff Weds: Daryl Murphy and Luke Chambers were both on target as Ipswich Town got their promotion push back on track with a spirited come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road tonight.
The Blues created a number of openings in the first half, but went into the break behind after a mix-up between Bartosz Bialkowski and Christophe Berra gifted Kieran Lee a 20th minute opener.
Murphy, who had headed against the inside of the post seconds before the half-time whistle, glanced home his 19th goal of the campaign to level things up seven minutes after the restart.
Then, after Darren Ambrose had headed against the woodwork, the Blues got the goal their growing dominance deserved when Chambers brilliantly headed home substitute Kevin Bru’s cross.
Town then professionally saw out the game, their first win in four matches moving them back up to fourth in the Championship table and within four points of the automatic promotion spots after Bournemouth and Derby drew 2-2 at Dean Court.
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In an attempt to spark some life into his increasingly flat-looking side, Blues boss Mick McCarthy made five changes to his starting line-up following the 2-0 defeat at Rotherham.
Out went left-back Tyrone Mings, midfield trio Paul Anderson, Kevin Bru and Jay Tabb, as well as striker David McGoldrick – the latter having suffered a slight thigh injury last weekend – and in came Jonathan Parr, Darren Ambrose, Teddy Bishop, Stephen Hunt and Freddie Sears.
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Ambrose was deployed on the right side of midfield, Hunt on the left, as McCarthy stuck with a 4-4-2 formation.
Following a tentative start to the match from both sides, Town created the game’s first real opening, in the 15th minute, when Murphy nodded Hunt’s clever chip into his own path, shrugged off the attentions of Tom Lees in the box, before lashing a low, angled shot across the face of goal.
Wednesday had created little but, just like at Rotherham, Town gifted the opposition an opener with some sloppy defending. Lees lumped a free-kick from the edge of his own box onto the edge of Town’s 18-yard area and, after Stevie May out-jumped Tommy Smith to win the flick-on, defender Christophe Berra and keeper Bartosz Bialkowski – under pressure from Will Keane – ended up colliding following a moment of mis-communication. The ball fell fortuitously for Lee and he coolly side-footed into the unguarded net.
Town responded well and went on to create several good chances before the break but, again just like at Rotherham, they were unable to take any of them.
Murphy’s driving run and shot was pushed away by keeper Keiren Westwood, Tommy Smith put a powerful header from an Ambrose corner just the wrong side of the near post and then Freddie Sears slid in to divert Ambrose’s low cross over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
The visitors were a real threat on the counter-attack though, twice going close after the tenacious Sam Hutchinson had dispossessed a hesitant Bishop in the middle of the park. On the first occasion, May fired across the face of goal following Keane’s run and pass. On the second occasion, Keane was guilty of taking one touch too many in the box, allowing Smith to get a foot in, after May had raced half the length of the field.
Town ended the half on top and, after a Ambrose header and Cole Skuse shot were comfortably dealt with by Westwood, the home side came agonisingly close to finding a leveller seconds before the break.
Murphy did everything right when Hunt’s cross from the left came into the box, but his downward header bounced up off the pitch and came back off the inside of post with the keeper well beaten. The ball was scrambled clear and the whistle blew for the break.
McCarthy brought on Mings for Hunt at the interval, pushing Parr forwards into a left midfield role.
Following a tense start to the second period, Town’s new-look strike duo combined to produce a 52nd minute equaliser – Sears’ excellent dinked cross from the left glanced home expertly by Murphy following his late run into the six-yard box.
Six minutes later, the Blues hit the woodwork for the second time in the match. A combination of Sears and Mings pressure saw Lees dispossessed and, after Mings looped the ball to the back post, Ambrose headed against the right upright from close-range. It was a golden chance considering how much time and space he had.
Moments later, Mings jinked his way inside from the left and hit a right-footed shot through the crowd that went a foot wide of the far post.
The Portman Road faithful sensed that the confidence was flooding back into their players and began roaring them on. Town responded with a second goal in the 68th minute, Murphy’s perseverance playing a big part before sub Kevin Bru crossed from the by-line for the leaping Chambers to head home like a No.9 from near the penalty spot.
Wednesday tried to wrestle back momentum, but Ipswich stood firm. There were a couple of heart-in-mouth moments when Bialkowski raced off his line to make unconvincing punches, while towering sub striker Atdhe Nuhiu was a handful at times.
Ipswich – with the outstanding Skuse pulling the strings – never panicked though and saw out the victory in a highly professional manner.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Parr; Ambrose, Bishop (Bru 57), Skuse, S.Hunt (Mings 46); Sears (N.Hunt 86), Murphy.
Unused subs: Gerken, Clarke, Anderson, Tabb.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Westwood; Vermijl (Buxton 66), Lees (cpt), Dielna, Mattock; Lee, Hutchinson (Melo 59), McGugan (Nuhiu 66), Helan; Keane, May.
Unused subs: Kirkland, Palmer, Maghoma, Bus.
Booked: Hutchinson (35).
Attendance: 17,306 (652 away).
Referee: Stuart Attwell.