Report: Ipswich Town 0 Southampton 1 – Blues exit FA Cup after another limp TV display

Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Southampton: Ipswich Town exited the FA Cup with a 1-0 home defeat to high-flying Premier League side Southampton on Wednesday night.

The third-place Championship hosts huffed and puffed throughout the majority of the replay, a young Saints side taking the lead in the 19th minute through Shane Long’s smart finish and never having to get out of second gear thereafter.

For the second successive game, Mick McCarthy’s men failed to do themselves justice in front of a television audience. No doubt the neutrals watching on BBC One will have wished the goalfest between Tottenham and Burnley, or Bradford’s underdog victory over Millwall, had been selected for broadcast instead.

There is one potential omen to ease the pain. Town suffered third round defeats to Southampton in 1961 and 2000 – both times they went on to seal promotion to the top-flight.

The last two games must now be quickly forgotten with four league games against bottom-six sides coming up. The first of those is Saturday’s trip to Millwall – Ian Holloway’s side losing 4-0 against League One opposition last night.

McCarthy made four changes to the team that started the 1-0 home defeat to Championship promotion rivals Derby County four days earlier.

Two of them were enforced – the midfield trio of Paul Anderson and Jay Tabb both ruled out through illness. They were replaced by Stephen Hunt and Darren Ambrose, while Kevin Bru came in for Teddy Bishop and Jonathan Parr was preferred to Tyrone Mings.

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With Dean Gerken having suffered an injury in training the day before, Conor Sammon set to be recalled by parent club Derby County in order to move elsewhere and Noel Hunt ineligible due to the fact he wasn’t registered for the game at St Mary’s, Town named youngsters Michael Crowe and Darren McQueen among their subs.

Saints boss Ronald Koeman made five changes to the side which started the 1-0 win at Manchester United two days earlier.

Centre-back Toby Alderweireld was injured at Old Trafford, new signing Eljero Elia dropped out due to his ineligibility, while Morgan Schneiderlin missed out with a knock.

Midfield maestro Steven Davis and in-form striker Graziano Pelle both dropped to the bench, with Florin Gardos, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long, Matt Targett and Harrison Reed all coming into the team.

The latter two – both aged 19 – were making only their fifth and third starts in professional football respectively. Town’s team, by contrast, contained a great deal of experience.

Portman Road – packed to near full capacity due to a £10 ticket offer – was on its feet in the sixth minute after Stephen Hunt put the ball in the net following Kevin Bru’s clever chip over the top. The offside flag was raised though, replays showing it was a very close call.

After that early excitement, the two teams felt their way into the match. Southampton made several unforced errors, while Ipswich – although closing down quickly – lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

The game’s opening goal came out of nowhere. Right wing-back Nathaniel Clyne strode forwards, passed the ball into Tadic and, after his neat back-to-goal touch, it required a well-timed slide tackle from Luke Chambers to deny the on-rushing James Ward-Prowse from pulling the trigger in the box.

The ball ricochetted to Long and the £12m man reacted superbly to sweep home an instinctive, first-time finish. It was a touch of Premier League class.

Ipswich’s long ball game began to look increasingly limited against a back three, though there was one moment – following Hunt’s aimless punt and Ryan Bertrand’s mis-control – that McGoldrick looked like he might get away before eventually being crowded out.

Daryl Murphy had to be patched up following a clash of heads with team-mate Parr as they both went to head a corner clear. Later on in the half, Southampton’s Targett also had to receive treatment after inadvertently butting bonces with Luke Chambers.

Town looked edgy; one poor back pass from Chambers on the halfway line forcing keeper Bartosz Bialkoswki to race out of his box and clear under pressure. Tommy Smith and Luke Hyam then both desperately went to ground in the box to block Tadic’s shot following his weaving run. The Saints looked like they could step up a gear at any moment.

By contrast, Town looked painfully one-dimensional and continued to try and force things. Right at the end of the half, McGoldrick burst into the box down the right but, instead of pulling the ball back, smashed an ambitious angled shot over the bar. It was the actions of a player who has been making poor decisions of late in an attempt to rediscover his goalscoring form of last season.

Following a slow start to the second period, television viewers undoubtedly wishing they were watching the goalfest between Tottenham and Burnley, Ipswich boss McCarthy made a tactical and personnel switch in an attempt to liven up his side and the crowd.

Mings replaced Hunt and Town matched up the opposition’s 3-5-2 system. Within seconds, Mings – playing as the left wing-back – ran at Clyne and stood up a cross that Ambrose headed tamely at Fraser Forster.

McGoldrick took a knock to the shin and headed straight for the tunnel after a frustrating night. He was replaced by forgotten man Balint Bajner, the big Hungarian making his first appearance in almost three months. By contrast, the Saints could call upon Pelle off the bench.

The substitutions and change of shape did help to liven the home side up, but Hyam – for the second game running – repeatedly gave the ball away cheaply, once again highlighting the unsung job Skuse usually does in that deep midfield role.

McCarthy certainly didn’t urge his side on with vigour in the closing stages, the Blues boss having made it very clear that he didn’t want extra-time to damage his side’s league form.

Promotion is the goal. Though on this showing the gap in class to the Premier League is sizeable.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-1-2-1-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Parr; Hyam; Ambrose (Stewart 82), S.Hunt (Mings 55); Bru; Murphy, McGoldrick (Bajner 62).

Unused subs: Crowe, Clarke, Anderson, McQueen.

SOUTHAMPTON (3-5-2): Forster; Gardos, Fonte (cpt), Bertrand; Clyne, Wanyama (S.Davis 46), Reed, Ward-Prowse, Targett, Tadic (Pelle 67), Long.

Unused subs: K.Davis, McCarthy, Hesketh, Cork, Isgrove.

Attendance: 27,933 (1,126 away).

Referee: Graham Scott.

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