MATCH REPORT: Watford 3 Ipswich Town 1

Anthony Wordsworth celebrates his goal at Watford with the travelling fans who spilled onto the pitc

Anthony Wordsworth celebrates his goal at Watford with the travelling fans who spilled onto the pitch - Credit: Archant

Watford v Ipswich: Ipswich Town went down to a 3-1 defeat at Watford this afternoon following an agonising three minute period which saw the match’s momentum swing dramatically just after the hour mark.

After Anthony Wordsworth’s finish (50) had cancelled out Albert Riera’s first-half opener (21), the Blues were pushing hard to get their noses in front.

Home keeper Manuel Almunia produced a sublime fingertip save to push Luke Hyam’s thumping close-range header onto the crossbar in the 62nd minute though and, within three minutes the Hornets had scored twice to effectively kill the game off.

On both occasions Town were guilty of slack defending. First, centre-back Gabriele Angella was left unmarked to flick home a header following a long, straight, free-kick delivery into the box.

Moments later, Daniel Tozser somehow burst between Cole Skuse and Aaron Cresswell in the box, his cut-back smashed into the bottom corner by Lewis McGugan to effectively seal the result.

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Defeat means Ipswich remain one point adrift of the play-off places heading into the final three matches, starting with Monday’s visit of Bournemouth to Portman Road. Watford are now right back in the top-six mix, victory taking them back to within five points with a game-in-hand to come.

Ipswich had started with a good intensity about their play, getting in the home side’s faces when out of possession and giving them plenty to think about when on the ball. Watford did look a threat on the counter-attack though and it required a super saving slide tackle from Aaron Cresswell to deny Troy Deeney in the box following a slack pass from Wordsworth high up the pitch.

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Town had a golden chance to break the deadlock in the 15th minute following an excellent direct run by Cresswell. The ball fell nicely for Jonny Williams just inside the box, but he lashed his shot straight at keeper Manuel Almunia and the effort was palmed away.

The Hornet’s opener therefore came slightly against the run of play in the 21st minute, left wing-back Riera driving down the touchline, drifting inside along the edge of the box before curling a fine shot beyond keeper Dean Gerken.

Watford grew in confidence after that and they began to get increasing joy down the flanks, their 3-5-2 system causing Town a real headache. With Frank Nouble pinned to the left touchline, Daryl Murphy the central striker and Jonny Williams in a free role, Blues right-back Luke Chambers was being given very little protection thanks to the lop-sided of the formation.

Ipswich made it to the break without further damage though and came out flying after the restart. Within seconds, Nouble lashed a shot just the wrong side of the near post following good work by Daryl Murphy and Williams.

The equaliser arrived in the 50th minute, Wordsworth’s converting with a side-footed volley after Nouble had collected Murphy’s short throw down the right and delivered a cross which took a slight deflection.

The goal came right in front of Town’s travelling army of around 2,500 fans, with the players mobbed as one or two jubilant supporters jumped the advertising boards to join in the joyous celebrations.

It was all Ipswich for the next 10 minutes. Joel Ekstrand had to produce a fine last-ditch challenge to halt a driving Murphy run into the box, while the tricky Williams was continually fouled by frustrated home players.

The turning point arrived in the 62nd minute. Hyam’s thumping header from close-range looked destined for the back of the net following Williams’ cross, but Almunia produced a superb fingertip save to ouch the ball onto the underside of the crossbar.

Ipswich subsequently switched off, failing to deal with a long free-kick delivery into the box which an unmarked Angella glanced home. A minute later and it was game, set and match as Tozser burst into the box and set-up McGugan to score.

– Reaction to follow.

WATFORD (3-5-2): Almunia; Hoban, Ekstrand, Angella; Faraoni, Abdi (Battacchio 80), McGugan (Murray 84), Tozser, Riera (Pudil 83); Ranegie, Deeney.

Unused subs: Bond, Belkalem, Merkel, Doyley.

Booked: Angella (60), McGugan (70), Tozser (83).

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-1-2): Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Skuse, Wordsworth (Green 84), Hyam (Hunt 85); Williams (Taylor 85); Murphy, Nouble.

Unused subs: Crowe, Richardson, Mings, Marriott.

Referee: Gary Sutton.

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