REPORT: Fulham 1 Ipswich Town 2 – Murphy scores twice in Craven Cottage win
- Credit: Archant
Fulham v Ipswich: Daryl Murphy scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season as Ipswich Town battled their way to a 2-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The division’s leading scorer headed home from a corner in the fifth minute and produced a brilliant side-footed finish seconds before half-time to become the first Town player since David Joshnon in 1999/00 to net 20 league goals in a season.
Ross McCormack pulled one back for the home side in the 75th minute, following Tommy Smith’s error, but the Blues stood firm to record a superb win in front of 4,000 jubilant away supporters – their biggest league following in more than a decade.
With Bournemouth held 1-1 at home to Huddersfield, and both Middlesbrough and Derby in FA Cup action, the Blues moved back to within two points of the automatic promotion places.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy made three changes to his starting XI following the midweek 2-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. Tyrone Mings, Kevin Bru and Jay Tabb all came into the team, with Jonathan Parr, Darren Ambrose and Stephen Hunt all dropping out.
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Town, as they so often have done this season, burst out of the traps and created a good opening inside the very first minute. Murphy bulldozed his way down the left and cut the ball back, strike partner Freddie Sears’ under-pressure side-footed attempt well saved by keeper Marcus Bettinelli.
That set the tone for the half, the home defence unable to cope with Murphy’s physicality as well as Sears’ clever movement on the counter-attack.
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Ipswich broke the deadlock in the fifth minute after Sears’ excellent cross from the by-line forced a corner. Tabb’s resultant delivery was met firmly by the leaping Murphy’s head, the defender on the line unable to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Murphy had to go off for treatment to a bloody nose he suffered in scoring the goal, the Irishman eventually coming back on with a blank shirt.
Town had started with a narrow diamond midfield – Cole Skuse at the base and Teddy Bishop at the tip – but they soon reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 as Fulham were playing a slightly different way to their own usual diamond system. Scott Parker was the holding player, but Alex Kacaniklic was pulling out to the left and began causing the visitors some problems.
The latter controlled Parker’s deep cross brilliantly at the far post in the 22nd minute and it required an important intervention from Christophe Berra to cut out his low ball into the six-yard box. Moments later, Luke Chambers blocked a Kacaniklic shot in the box after another move that started with a raking Parker pass.
The hosts began to grow in confidence and it required a fine stop from Bartosz Bialkowski to keep Town in front, the Polish custodian at full-stretch to turn Kacaniklic’s low, angled shot from the edge of the box around the post. The resultant corner was half-cleared and Parker’s curling attempt went just over the bar.
That proved to be the end of Fulham’s 15 minute purple patch, Town using attack as the best form of defence to reassert themselves.
First, Bettinelli had to be alert to keep out Sears’ powerful near post shot after defenders Nikolay Bodurov and Kostas Stafylidis got in a mix-up. Moments later Bettinelli again had to come to his side’s rescue, keeping out Bishop’s shot after Sears had touched Murphy’s cross into his path.
Tabb had to be replaced in the 44th minute after injuring himself in the process of a brave sliding tackle on McCormack.
Seconds before the half-time whistle Town had scored a second. After a crisp spell of passing, Mings’ cross from the left deflected straight to the feet of Murphy at the far post. The division’s leading scorer still had plenty to do on an acute angle, but he made it look easy; turning and caressing a curling side-footed effort across the keeper and into the net.
With a two-goal cushion, Town came out for the second period with the aim of being solid and organised.
When Ashley Richards crossed from deep, Tommy Smith was there to make sure Rodallega couldn’t get enough on his far post header.
When Kacaniklic drove forwards with the ball, Berra halted his progress – getting a booking in the process – with McCormack’s resultant free-kick flying over the bar.
Ipswich were looking relatively comfortably, but then a costly error by Smith changed the feel of the game completely.
Left-back Stafylidis’ curling ball up the line was a routine one, but Smith – under no pressure – swung and missed, the ball going through his legs and leaving the alert McCormack a simple close-range finish.
The goal lifted the Fulham players and crowd, but McCarthy’s men dug deep and fought for every ball – Bru and Skuse both receiving yellow cards.
Only a fine piece of goalline defending prevented Town scoring a killer third in the 82nd minute. Following a weak punch by Bettinelli, Mings unleashed a powerful volley that looked destined for the back of the net. Somehow Stafylidis threw himself in the way though to keep the score at 2-1.
The match then ended on a sour note when Noel Hunt and Shaun Hutchinson clashed heads. The latter walked off blooded, while Hunt was eventually stretchered off – in some discomfort – following a delay.
FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Richards, Bodurov, Hutchinson, Stafylidis; Parker; Christensen (Woodrow 64), Tunnicliffe; Kacaniklic (Roberts 85); McCormack, Rodallega (Ruiz 68).
Unused subs: Kiraly, Burn, Grimmer, Fofana.
Booked: Tunnicliffe (89).
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers, Smith, Berra, Mings; Bishop (Anderson 76), Skuse, Bru, Tabb (Parr 44); Murphy, Sears (N.Hunt 68).
Unused subs: Kenny, Clarke, Connolly, S.Hunt,
Booked: Berra (59), Bru (80), Skuse (83).
Attendance: 19,816 (4,000 away)
Referee: Mr M Haywood.