Match report: Rotherham 2 Ipswich Town 5 – Daryl Murphy scores a hat-trick in bizarre match

Daryl Murphy scores his first goal of the afternoon at Rotherham

Daryl Murphy scores his first goal of the afternoon at Rotherham

Daryl Murphy ended his goal-drought in style, scoring a hat-trick as Ipswich Town won 5-2 in a bizarre game at rock-bottom Rotherham this afternoon.

The Blues utterly dominated the first 55 minutes of the game and raced into a 4-0 lead thanks to goals from Brett Pitman (8), Jonathan Douglas (22) and Murphy (43, 48).

Never had a comeback looked less likely, but then the Millers scored two sublime individual goals – Brandon Barker and Matt Derbyshire both finding the top corner within the space of four minutes – to completely change the complexion of the match.

The Blues dug in though and added a killer fifth in the 72nd minute, Murphy – who went into the game without a goal to his name this season – completing his trio of strikes.

The Irishman, who was the Championship’s top-scorer with 27 goals in 2014/15, forced the ball home for his confidence-boosting first and then netted with two emphatic low finishes. It was his first hat-trick in English football.

Having recently gone on a seven-match winless streak, the Blues have now recorded back-to-back victories. They remain 10th in the Championship table and four points adrift of the play-off places going into the international break.

This was the first time Ipswich have scored five goals in a game during McCarthy’s three years at the helm, while Murphy became the first Town player to score a hat-trick since Connor Wickham’s treble in a 6-0 win at Doncaster back in 2011.

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Town came flying out of the blocks and came close to breaking the deadlock with just 43 seconds on the clock, Freddie Sears bursting through one-on-one only to see his crisp low shot saved by the legs of keeper Lee Camp.

That set the tone for the remainder of a half that was as one-sided as you are likely to see in the Championship.

The visitors played with an intensity reminiscent of last season, harassing and pressing high up the field at every opportunity. Rotherham had no answer and each and every player looked nervy in possession.

Town’s opener arrived in the eighth minute after Paul Green gave the ball away poorly in a dangerous position. Kevin Bru crossed from the right and Pitman glanced home a fine header at the near post.

Ipswich continued to press and created another opening when Douglas nodded Bru’s deep cross back across goal. On this occasion, Luke Chambers messed up the shot.

Rotherham looked like that were just beginning to settle and it required a fine intervention from Christophe Berra to deny Matt Derbyshire at the near post following Harry Toffolo’s deep, low cross.

So when Town went straight up the other end to double their advantage it was a body blow from which the hosts never recovered.

Sears, whose tireless running was a major asset throughout, closed down the keeper and forced a poor kick. Green again dithered on the ball in a dangerous area, he was robbed of possession by Douglas and the Blues midfielder strode forwards before finding the bottom left corner of the net with a shot from the edge of the area.

It was one-way traffic for the remainder of the half. Ipswich scored one more but could have had even more by the interval.

On the half hour mark, Murphy twisted and turned in the box before seeing his shot deflect narrowly wide off of defender Farrend Rawson.

The Irishman was not to be denied though and his long-awaited goal arrived in the 43rd minute after the Millers failed to deal with a corner. The ball was hooked back into the box, bobbled around for a spell before the front man spun and forced home a shot on the turn.

He held his arms aloft in relief after finally ending his 2015/16 goal drought and was mobbed by delighted team-mates.

The corner had come about after Pitman’s cheeky attempt at a first-time lob on the angle had been tipped over by the back-peddling Camp.

And there was still time for Town to go close again, Murphy latching onto a Pitman through ball and smashing an angled shot against where the near post and crossbar meet. Sears put the rebound chance over the bar.

Millers boss Redfearn, who made two changes at the break, undoubtedly called upon his players to show more heart after the restart. Within less than four minutes they had conceded again.

Tommy Smith’s clearing header was allowed to bounce by the home defence and Murphy, alert in the box, fired a low shot emphatically across the keeper and into the bottom right corner.

A comeback had never looked less likely, but then – out of nowhere – Rotherham scored two fabulous goals in the space of four minutes.

First, debutant Barker – the teenage midfielder signed on loan from Manchester City the previous day – bent a brilliant shot into the top corner from the edge of the area and home fans sarcastically chanted ‘we’re going to win 5-4’.

That sarcasm soon turned to genuine belief though when Derbyshire sent a rocket of a shot into the near top corner soon afterwards.

With the home crowd up, the next goal was clearly crucial. Within minutes, big Rotherham penalty appeals were turned down after sub Jonson Clarke-Harris went down easily under Berra pressure in the box.

Suddenly it was Ipswich who looked the nervy side, but those nerves were calmed when Murphy clinched his hat-trick in the 72nd minute – boss McCarthy claiming an assist!

After the ball had landed near the press box, a Rotherham fan threw the ball back on the field and inadvertently hit an unaware McCarthy square on the back of the head to loud cheers. The Blues boss did not look a happy man.

Town took the throw-in, worked the ball inside and Murphy, for the second time in the game, lashed home an emphatic low shot into the bottom corner. McCarthy’s celebrations were wild.

The game rather petered out after that, with Murphy given a standing ovation by the 1,019 away fans when he was subbed in the last minute. He received a big bear hug from his boss too.

ROTHERHAM UTD (4-4-2): Camp; Richardson, Rawson, Collins (cpt), Toffolo (Buxton 86); Thorpe (Clarke-Harris 46), G Ward, Green (Smallwood 46), Barker; Derbyshire, D Ward.

Unused subs: Collin, Broadfoot, Newell, Andreu.

Booked: Tofolo (40)

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse, Douglas, Bru (Maitland-Niles 66); Sears (Coke 81), Murphy (Parr 90), Pitman.

Unused subs: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Oar, Toure.

Attendance: 9,162 (1,019 away)

Referee: Darren Drysdale

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