Quintet impressed as improving Ipswich Town held play-off chasing Leeds United

Town's Emyr Huws beats Ronaldo Vieira (25) and Pablo Hernandez to the ball in this battle during the

Town's Emyr Huws beats Ronaldo Vieira (25) and Pablo Hernandez to the ball in this battle during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Chris Brammer looks back in depth at Ipswich Town’s impressive 1-1 draw at home to Leeds United on Saturday, and reserves particular praise for Town quintet, Freddie Sears, Jordan Spence, Emyr Huws, David McGoldrick and Luke Chambers.

Myles Kenlock holds off Hadi Sacko during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) mat

Myles Kenlock holds off Hadi Sacko during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

TALE OF THE GAME

Nobody could have complained if the Blues had come away from the game with all three points

Leeds, in fifth, are in good shape for a play-off place but looked a shadow of the side that have been so impressive this season.

After a cagey first 10 minutes, the game came to life when Freddie Sears finished well.

Freddie Sears (right) is congratulated by skipper Luke Chambers after scoring to put Town 1-0 ahead

Freddie Sears (right) is congratulated by skipper Luke Chambers after scoring to put Town 1-0 ahead in the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller


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Cole Skuse mopped up well in midfield and found Emyr Huws who surged forward, leaving a couple of Leeds midfielders in his wake.

After finding Grant Ward on the right, the winger crossed to the back post where Sears finished confidently with a side-foot volley.

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Jonas Knudsen almost made it two midway through the half when, three yards out, his stab towards goal was deflected over the bar by Ronaldo Vieira. Despite being on top, Ipswich failed to muster many clear-cut chances and were dealt a blow three minutes before the break. Hadi Sacko’s cross was flicked on by the unusually-quiet Chris Wood and Stuart Dallas crept in from the left to finish past Bartosz Bialkowski at his near post.

The introduction of Liam Bridcutt at half-time ensured a more even midfield battle in the second half, Town, and Huws in particular, having had the better of the first.

David McGoldrick pictured through the legs of the linesman during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (S

David McGoldrick pictured through the legs of the linesman during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

However, it was Ipswich who had the best chances to score a winner in the second half, McGoldrick striking the bar with an impudent chip from 12 yards out, before forcing a fine save from Rob Green at the near post.

THE LINE-UP

Josh Emmanuel will feel hard done by not to have kept his place, but with Christophe Berra returning after concussion and Luke Chambers (cracked ribs) fit, it would have been folly not to play them, especially up against the physical presence of Leeds’ 19-goal top scorer, Chris Wood. Berra, Chambers and Jonas Knudsen defended stoutly, keeping Wood quiet for the most part, although the New Zealander did play his part in Dallas’ goal.

In Emmanuel’s place came Jordan Spence who was composed throughout, showed great energy and confidence going forward and provided height at set-pieces and at diagonal balls.

Jordan Spence applauding the fans after the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match

Jordan Spence applauding the fans after the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Skuse stepped in for the ineligible Toumani Diagouraga and kept things ticking over, but it was Ward and, in particular, Huws that were charged with making things happen further forward.

Up front, David McGoldrick was influential behind main striker, Freddie Sears.

SEARS WAS STRIKING

How refreshing it was to see Sears playing in his favoured central striker’s role.

Bartosz Bialkowski takes a goal kick during the first half of the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky B

Bartosz Bialkowski takes a goal kick during the first half of the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

His body language just looks so much more positive playing in that role and, chasing lost causes throughout, put Kyle Bartley under some extreme pressure. Known for his work-rate, Sears’ main job is to score goals and he finished expertly on Saturday, considering he had scored just eight goals in his previous 78 appearances.

He was given the nod to replace the suspended Tom Lawrence and did his chances of starting in the derby at Norwich, next weekend, no harm at all.

Direct when he gets the ball, Sears’ partnership with McGoldrick is telepathic at times.

HUWS THE MAN

Myles Kenlock about to take a throw-in during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship)

Myles Kenlock about to take a throw-in during the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Huws, who could not get a game under Neil Warnock, ran the game in the first half, his range of long and short passing bringing the best out of his team-mates too.

Strong in the tackle, two-footed and always positive in possession, Town surely must try and secure the Welsh international on a permanent deal in the summer.

OLD GUARD IMPRESS

Step forward Luke Chambers and David McGoldrick.

Chambers almost left for Nottingham Forest last month and his long-term future at Town remains unclear, the Blues skipper out-of-contract in the summer.

He’s been though some tough times, often being the fans’ scapegoat when playing at right-back but is worth his weight in gold and epitomises what being a skipper is all about. Played with two cracked ribs on Saturday and is as committed as ever, the Forest episode clearly not affecting his on-field mindset. Still has so much to offer and has the ability to become a centre-half stalwart at Town for a few years yet.

Whether he does depends a lot on owner Marcus Evans’ and his direction for the club.

As for McGoldrick, the forward has been in top form for a number of weeks and, when fully-fit like this, is a daunting proposition for Championship defences.

Plays the number 10 role to a tee. Just needs a season free of injuries now.

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