Match report: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Ipswich Town 2 – Luke Chambers’ late goal seals vital win at Hillsborough
Luke Chambers headed home an 87th minute winner as Ipswich Town recorded a vital 2-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday ahead of an international break.
The Blues skipper converted from close-range in the closing stages after Tom Lawrence’s superb solo opener (32) had quickly been cancelled out by a Gary Hooper rebound finish (36).
Wednesday’s quickfire leveller looked to have come from an offside position as the Blues once again found themselves feeling hard done by a refereeing decision.
The Owls started the second half on top, but their intensity levels dropped and Ipswich became an increasing threat on the counter-attack in the closing stages.
After both Freddie Sears and Jonny Williams went close in the 80th and 85th minutes respectively, it looked as though this fixture would end in a 1-1 draw for the fifth successive season.
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The impressive Grant Ward won and delivered a free-kick from the right though and, with Christophe Berra’s effort going wide, the ball inadvertently came of the Town skipper to find the net.
This was only the second away win of the season for the Blues men and their second win in any game across the last nine. Mick McCarthy’s unbeaten league record as a manager against Sheffield Wednesday now stands at 14 games.
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Town move up a place to 15th in the Championship table ahead of home games against struggling Nottingham Forest and QPR.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy made one change to his starting line-up following last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Rotherham – the fit-again Jonas Knudsen replacing Myles Kenlock at left-back. The latter dropped to the bench, with Conor Grant dropping out the match-day squad.
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal made three changes to his team following their 2-0 loss at Derby. Keeper Keiren Westwood and striker Steven Fletcher passed fitness tests to return to the starting line-up, while right-back Jack Hunt was promoted from the bench as Cameron Dawson, Liam Palmer and Fernando Forestieri dropped to the bench.
With both managers deploying a 4-4-2 formation it made for an open and entertaining first period in which both teams played some neat football in patches.
The Owls were first to threaten when, inside three minutes, Steven Fletcher’s through ball almost sent Adam Reach scampering clear. Town right-back Luke Chambers did well to keep pace and snuff out the danger.
Barry Bannan – playing on the right but drifting into all sorts of positions – was pulling the strings for the home side. In the eighth minute he set off on a driving run, exchanged passes with Kieran Lee, and rifled a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Ipswich were assured in possession themselves though, with winger Grant Ward showing some neat touches in tight areas and always looking to turn and run into space. It didn’t, however, ever quite lead to a goalscoring chance.
Wednesday went close in the 25th minute when the impressive Fletcher met David Jones’ corner delivery with a thumping header on the run, the ball flying narrowly over the bar.
It still remained a subdued atmosphere inside Hillsborough though and there were some grumbles from the homes fans when their team passed the ball between defence and keeper.
Ipswich’s opener came out of nowhere in the 32nd minute. Right-back Jack Hunt produced a poor touch on the halfway line, Lawrence nicked it off his toes and then set off like the clappers. After bursting into the box in a flash, the left-winger cut inside and rifled a fine finish across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
There was a golden chance for the Blues to squeeze the life out of the game and further frustrate the home supporters, but their lead lasted less than four minutes.
Wednesday worked the ball right, cut it back to the edge of the box and, after Jones’ shot through the crowd was well-saved down low by keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, striker Gary Hooper was on hand to smash home the rebound from close-range.
There was more than a hint of offside, but few appeals from the away players.
The goal lifted the home side and they finished the half on top as Town’s midfield dropped deeper and deeper, leaving front duo Freddie Sears and David McGoldrick isolated.
It was a sluggish start to the second half by the Blues who were handed a major let-off after the midfield parted for Hooper to burst into the box. His shot was saved by Bialkowski and Lee, under pressure from Webster, stabbed the rebound wide.
The ball was simply not sticking up top for Town and the home side were able to mount attack-after-attack. They went close again in the 55th minute when Fletcher put a difficult far post header just over the bar.
Wednesday let their intensity levels drop though, the game began to drift and the home fans again began to get frustrated.
Blues centre-back Webster set off on one of his trademark dribbles out of the back in the 66th minute and made it from one box to the other before eventually being tackled. It was a fine run, but he should have passed the ball to Sears at the last moment.
With the game becoming increasingly scrappy, the home side finally created another opening in the 76th minute. Hunt’s cross from deep found Lee perfectly at the far post but the midfielder miscued his header when he had team-mates to pick out in the six-yard box.
As the game entered the final stages, Sheffield Wednesday committed more men forwards and left gaps at the back for Town to exploit on the counter.
First, in the 80th minute, a clever pass by Ward saw Sears beat the offside trap and skip to the side of on-rushing keeper Westwood. Unfortunately for the Town striker the angle was too acute and his shot hit the near stanchion.
Then, in the 85th minute, after another rapid attack, home centre-back Tom Lees made a vital last-ditch block on substitute Jonny Williams inside the six-yard box following Ward’s teasing low cross.
Town’s magic moment arrived two minutes later when Ward won and delivered a free-kick from the right. Christophe Berra’s far post header was going wide, but the ball inadvertently hit Chambers and went in from close-range.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Westwood; Hunt, Hutchinson, Lees, Pudil; Lee, Jones (Wallace 74), Bannan, Reach (Forestieri 57); Hooper (Abdi 81), Fletcher.
Unused subs: Dawson, Palmer, Loovens, Buckley.
Booked: Fletcher (59)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward (Varney 81), Skuse, Bishop (Williams 70), Lawrence (Bru 79); McGoldrick, Sears.
Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Best.
Booked: Chambers (56), Ward (89)
Referee: Andrew Madley.