Report: Barnet 1 Ipswich Town 0 – Blues pay the penalty in pre-season defeat

Luke Hyam holds off Jean-louis Akpa Akpro at Barnet last night

Luke Hyam holds off Jean-louis Akpa Akpro at Barnet last night

Ipswich Town lost 1-0 to League Two side Barnet in their second pre-season friendly of the summer tonight.

After being thoroughly outplayed in a poor first half, a completely different line-up played far better after the break only for a poor Tommy Smith back-pass to lead to Dean Gerken conceding a penalty and John Akinde converting from the spot in the 70th minute.

Striker David McGoldrick (sore hip) was once again unavailable, while Daryl Murphy (extended break after playing at Euro 2016) and Adam Webster (ankle injury) are pencilled in for next Saturday’s game at Cambridge.

McCarthy had moaned that a poor playing surface had prevented his players from playing passing the ball fluidly in last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Irish second-tier side Shelbourne.

There were no excuses on that front last night as the pitch at The Hive Stadium was in pristine condition. And still the Blues were not able to get the ball down and play in a first half that the hosts dominated.

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A depressing tone was set inside the first five minutes as Town full-backs Josh Emmanuel and Jonas Knudsen both continually pumped the ball long towards the corner flags. A new season, same old tactics.

Barnet – who finished 15th in the fourth tier last season – were at near full strength and manager Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen was shouting manic instructions from the first whistle.

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Centre-back Michael Nelson headed a corner just over the bar in the 11th minute, then the Bees went even closer five minutes later when Elliott Johnson’s speculative long-range effort took a huge deflection to beat Bartosz Bialkowski and come back off the face of the post. Ryan Watson smashed the follow-up well over.

Barnet’s team was full of power and pace and they never let the Blues settle. Town’s players didn’t make life easy for themselves either though.

Christophe Berra would arguably have been sent-off in a competitive match when, after a poor piece of control, he desperately tripped big number nine Akinde as he looked to burst into the box. Referee Mick Russell kept his cards in his pocket.

Town finally produced their first attempt on goal in the 26th minute when Piotr Malarczyk headed Kevin Bru’s deep corner delivery into the far post side netting.

Barnet continued to pose a far bigger threat going forwards. Watson’s shot was deflected wide and then, from the resultant corner delivery, Nelson’s powerful header was clawed out of the bottom corner by keeper Bartosz Bialkowksi.

An increasingly frustrated McCarthy came to edge of his technical area and demanded that his players ‘get hold of the ball’. They obliged and, after their first real bit of decent play, Adam McDonnell’s low shot was saved at the near post.

Andre Dozzell played just off Brett Pitman in the second half and the teenager helped liven up the visitors. A few attempted forward passes didn’t quite come off, but they were the right idea.

Fellow youngster James Blanchfield, playing on the right, was also looking to play positively too, while centre-back Paul Digby was happy to receive the ball in tight areas and play out from the back.

Town were playing much better than in the first half, but a mistake at the back led to Barnet taking the lead in the 70th minute. Tommy Smith’s back-pass fell well short and keeper Dean Gerken, racing off his line, wiped out alert striker Akinde for a nailed on penalty. Akinde dusted himself down and sent Gerken the wrong way from the spot.

Ipswich remained the far better team in the second period, with Dozzell’s clever movement and Cameron Stewart’s direct runs giving them a different dimension.

It was Stewart’s fine deep delivery which led to Brett Pitman putting the ball over on the stretch in the 77th minute, while Pitman put a looping header just over late on.

FIRST HALF (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Berra, Knudsen; Bishop, Bru, Douglas, McDonnell; Sears, McLoughlin.

SECOND HALF (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers, Digby, Smith, Robinson; Dozzell, Skuse, Hyam, Stewart; Blanchfield, Pitman.

BARNET (4-1-4-1): Stack; Taylor (Sesay 83), N’Gala, Nelson, Johnson; Togwell; Watson (Fonguck 74), Weston (Kyei 63), Akpro (Gash 57), Gambin (Nicholls 67); Akinde (Day 70).

Attendance: 803

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