MATCH REPORT, MOTM POLL & GALLERY: Ipswich Town 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Ipswich Town players celebrate after Daryl Murphy's equaliser against Nottingham Forest. Photo: Sara

Ipswich Town players celebrate after Daryl Murphy's equaliser against Nottingham Forest. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Forest: Ipswich Town had to settle for a share of the spoils after a storming second half display saw them level up the match at 1-1 and then push for the win against Nottingham Forest.

Forest took the lead in the fourth minute when former Blues loanee Danny Collins headed home from a corner. Buoyed by the goal, the visitors got on top and had chances to extend their lead before the break.

It was all Ipswich after the restart though and the equaliser finally arrived in the 78th minute when Daryl Murphy powered home a header from a Frank Nouble cross.

In the end it was only a man-of-the-match display by Forest keeper Karl Darlow that denied Town all three points, the custodian making fantastic stops from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Murphy and Nouble at various stages.

A draw keeps the Blues two points adrift of the play-off places heading into the final seven games of the campaign, Forest having now gone 10 games without a win in all competitions.

Just like in the game against Derby on Tuesday night, the sense of anticipation around Portman Road prior to kick-off was dealt a hefty blow as the visitors took an early lead. After Luke Chambers’ headed a cross behind for a corner, Daniel Fox delivered the set-piece and Collins rose highest to sent well-directed a header into the top corner of the net.

Ipswich responded well and created a couple of half-chances as Paul Anderson volleyed wide from the edge of the box and Jonny Williams glanced a header over the bar.

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Forest gradually took control from here though, playing with an organisation and fluidity which belied their poor form. Jamie Paterson in particular was a thorn in the Blues’ side, the striker dribbling past two men at the end of a driving run before finally being denied by a Luke Chambers tackle. Moments later he jinked inside from the left and rifled a shot which fizzed just past the post following a slight deflection.

A sense of nervousness began to creep into Ipswich’s play and twice they got away with mistakes at the back. First, Aaron Cresswell dallied, Paterson charged down his clearance and it required Paul Anderson to block Jamie Mackie’s shot. Soon afterwards, Cole Skuse got caught in possession in a dangerous area and Mackie’s low shot was well-saved by the legs of alert keeper Dean Gerken.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy had already brought on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for Anderson in the 34th minute. And at half-time he introduced front man Frank Nouble for Stephen Hunt. Just like in the midweek comeback win over Derby, the all-out attacking approach lifted the home side as Ipswich made a flying start to the second period.

It took a superb reaction stop from Darlow to keep the visitors in front in the 47th minute, the Forest keeper someone keeping out Ebanks-Blake’s powerful close-range header following Cresswell’s free-kick delivery. From the resulting corner, Collins headed Cresswell’s dangerous delivery narrowly over his own bar.

The Portman Road crowd was lifted and it continued to be one-way traffic. As the game entered the final half an hour, Tommy Smith headed over from a Williams corner delivery. Five minutes later, Skuse’s chest and long-range volley attempt was held by Darlow.

It took another superb save from Darlow to keep the scores level in the 70th minute, this time the Forest custodian springing to his right to claw Daryl Murphy’s curling 20-yard effort out of the top corner. The chance came after some good skill by Williams on the edge of the box.

Finally, after plenty of huffing and puffing, Ipswich blew the door down in the 78th minute. Following a short Cresswell corner, Nouble – whose energy again proved to be a catalyst for Town raising their game – provided an inch-perfect cross, Murphy arriving at the back post to power home a header from close-range.

McCarthy substituted Williams in the 85th minute, the livewire attacker given a standing ovation. With his loan from Crystal Palace set to expire on Monday, Blues fans chanted ‘we want you stay’ and the Welsh international responded with applause of his own.

Forest had created next to nothing in the second period, but they almost snatched a goal completely against the run of play in the 87th minute when Matt Derbyshire – seconds after coming on as a sub – glanced Fox’s corner just past the post.

Town responded and twice came close to grabbing a winner in the dying moments. First, after Collins was robbed of possession on the edge of his own box, Murphy had a shot blocked when an unmarked Paul Green was screaming for the ball to his right. It was a moment of greed.

Then, as the match entered the final minute, Darlow again came to the away side’s rescue, diving full-length to his left to keep out Nouble’s curling effort from the edge of the box.

– Reaction to follow.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Anderson (Ebanks-Blake 35), Skuse, Hyam, Hunt (Nouble 46); Williams (Green 85); Murphy.

Subs: Loach, Mings, Richardson, Tabb.

Booked: Williams (79)

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Peltier, Halford, Collins (cpt), Fox; Jara, Greening; Osborn, Majewski (Derbyshire 87), Paterson; Mackie.

Subs: De Vries, Harding, Tudgay, McLaughlin, Cox, Blake.

Booked: Halford (26), Paterson (47), Fox (74), Darlow (90+)

Attendance: 17,955 (1,027)

Referee: Andrew Madley

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