Report: Blues well-beaten at Forest as gap to safety grows further
- Credit: Pagepix Ltd
Ipswich Town’s position at the foot of the Championship became even more perilous at the City Ground this afternoon as they were beaten 2-0 by Nottingham Forest.
Lewis Grabban, in red hot form heading into the game, scored both goals for the hosts to take his season’s tally to 15, on an afternoon when it could have been much worse for an Ipswich side who were second for almost the entirety of the game.
The Blues’ third defeat in nine days, coupled with results elsewhere, leaves Paul Lambert’s men seven points from safety ahead of another daunting trip to Stoke next weekend. That gap could widen to nine before then, should Millwall beat Bristol City on Sunday afternoon.
While the visitors kept going for 90 minutes this was another occasion where the gap in quality and, more importantly, confidence proved the difference between the two sides.
It was always going to be a long way back after another Bartosz Bialkowski error presented Grabban with his first and so it proved, with the hosts hitting the woodwork three times on an afternoon which could have been a lot worse from an Ipswich perspective. The Blues never really looked like getting back into this contest as another game slipped away.
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Teddy Bishop’s first start since last Boxing Day was a rare bright spot, as he showed moments of his quality when picking up the ball, but his spark could not ignite Ipswich as they slipped to another costly loss.
There was a shake-up in the teamsheet for the first time of the Lambert era as the Scot made four changes to his side, bringing in Kayden Jackson, Jack Lankester, Teddy Bishop and Grant Ward, while also changing his system to a 4-1-4-1.
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Jackson was the focal point in attack, with Ward and Freddie Sears wide of a midfield two of Bishop and Lankester.
The early signs were good, with some swift attacking moves getting Jackson away, but that was soon a distant memory.
Bialkowski was backed by his manager this week following an error in Wednesday’s loss to Bristol City, but the first goal of this game was another moment he will want to forget.
The Pole got his body behind a driven Tendayi Darikwa effort from outside the box, but could only spill his effort into the path of Grabban who needed no second invitation to gobble up the rebound.
You already thought it would be a long way back for a side still smarting from Wednesday night’s loss, and so it proved as the hosts grew in confidence as the half went on.
Jackson did have three chances, as he scuffed a shot, missed the target with a flashed header and fired straight at goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Another warning shot was fired when Gil Dias thumped a post with a header, as Darikwa continued to cause havoc, with the full-back’s ball across the six yard box leading to Forest’s second as Grabban escaped Chambers to tap home.
The post was rattled again just two minutes into the second period as Michael Hefele connected with Joao Carvalho’s free-kick, with the rebound bouncing to a grateful Bialkowski, before Sears tested Pantilimon at the other end a minute later as his clever, flicked effort was palmed over the top.
The City Ground crowd could sense there were more goals in this encounter for their side, who scored five at Aston Villa in midweek, and Skuse had to throw himself in front of a Joe Lolley shot to keep the score down.
Adlene Guedioura was the next to take aim as he flashed a shot over the bar, before Grabban struck the top of the bar with a superb effort as he beat Bialkowski to a through ball which held up and caught the Ipswich goalkeeper out.
Matthew Pennington had to throw a leg in front of a Grabban shot to deny the striker his hat-trick before he was replaced late on.
His replacement, Karim Ansarifard, missed a late sitter before the hosts declared at two after seven minutes of added time.
Forest: Pantilimon; Darikwa, Dawson (Osborn 79), Hefele, Robinson; Guedioura, Colback, Dias (Cash 90); Carvalho, Lolley, Grabban (Ansarifard 88)
Subs not used: Steele, Janko, Yacob, Murphy
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers, Pennington. Knudsen; Skuse, Bishop (Nolan, 70), Ward (Chalobah 58); Sears, Lankester, Jackson (Roberts 58)
Subs not used: Gerken; Donacien, Nolan, Dozzell, Rowe