Report: Ipswich Town 1 Birmingham City 1 – Frustrating night as second half chances go begging

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is fouled during the Ipswich Town v Birmingham (Championship) match at Portma

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is fouled during the Ipswich Town v Birmingham (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, UK on 18 September 2015. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town had to make do with a share of the spoils after missing several decent goalscoring opportunities in the second half of tonight’s 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City.

Brett Pitman’s converted penalty cancelled out David Cotterill’s opener in an even opening period.

Mick McCarthy’s men – who could have gone up to second in the table with a victory – were then guilty of profligacy as Luke Chambers, Ainlsey Maitland-Niles and Daryl Murphy all missed the target from golden positions on a frustrating evening at Portman Road.

McCarthy made three changes to his starting line-up following Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Leeds. Ryan Fraser – who received several kicks at Elland Road – was only passed fit enough for a place on the bench and was replaced by Larsen Toure.

And, possibly with next Wednesday’s Capital One Cup trip to Manchester United in kind, both strikers were changed as the fit-again Freddie Sears and Brett Pitman came in for Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick.

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Town started brightly and Toure, making his full league debut on the wing, immediately endeared himself to fans with his all-action approach.

Pitman produced an expert chest, turn and shot in the early exchanges, while visiting midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld almost turned Maitland-Niles’ corner into his own net moments later.

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Maitland-Niles – who had switched to a left-wing role – was again involved when Sears clipped the outside of the near post with a fierce volley, the Arsenal loanee gliding past a flat-footed Neal Eardley and picking out his team-mate with a crisp pass.

McCarthy’s men had started brightly, but Birmingham showed their threat on the counter-attack in the 13th minute. First it required a last-ditch block from Chambers on Shinnie in the box, then keeper Dean Gerken did superbly to keep out Jonathan Grounds’ close-range shot at the near post.

The Midlands side’s 22nd minute opener came after an unfortunate slip. After a long throw up the line had been flicked on by the head of Clayton Donaldson, Berra lost his footing on a slick surface and Shinnie moved the ball to his right for Cotterill to smash a fine shot high into the net.

Ipswich’s leveller came after both a moment of attacking magic and refereeing controversy. When Maitland-Niles picked the ball up just inside his own half there looked to be little danger on, but he quickly switched on the afterburners and blazed 50 yards up the pitch leaving several opposition players in his wake.

His last touch of the ball looked to have been a little heavy and, after his tame cross close from the by-line trickled towards the keeper, the sliding Jonathan Spector wiped him out.

Linesman Ian Cooper flagged, Keith Stroud pointed to the spot and Pitman coolly sent keeper Tomasz Kuszczak the wrong way from the spot.

That goal really ignited the game for a period but, after Cotterill’s wicked dipping free-kick was beaten away by Gerken, the half-time whistle went with the score one apiece.

Ipswich created the first good chance of the second half following some fine interplay on the edge of the box. Jonathan Douglas started the move with a reverse pass, Maitland-Niles cleverly helped it on and, after some neat footwork by Pitman took the keeper out of the equation, Sears’ angled shot was cleared off the line by Paul Caddis.

The game got a little scrappy for a spell before Ipswich stepped up a gear as the game entered the final 20 minutes. That’s when the real frustration began.

Luke Chambers couldn’t quite react quickly enough after Niles’ corner was helped on and he stabbed a left-footed attempt wide from a central position.

Then Niles himself failed to convert from an even better position, slicing a shot wide from no more than eight yards out after substitute McGoldrick had brilliantly nodded down Knudsen’s cross.

Birmingham provided a reminder of their threat in the 77th minute though, Gerken doing brilliantly to race off his line and bravely clear with his feet on the edge of the box after Chambers’ weak back header gave sub Jacques Maghoma something to chase down.

Ipswich got back on the front foot and again were left to rue a golden missed opportunity in the 82nd minute. Murphy, having shown great strength to win the corner, nodded inches over following sub Ryan Fraser’s dead ball delivery. He was just six yards out and unmarked.

There was almost a sting in the tail with four minutes to go when Stephen Gleeson curled a shot inches past the post following Cotterill’s clever passed free-kick.

The home crowd roared their team forwards in the closing stages but the final pass or finish continued to be lacking.

McGoldrick pulled a shot across the face of goal following some good interplay with Murphy, Fraser’s shot was smothered by Kuszczak at the near post, while Knudsen’s low cross flashed through a crowded area.

The finish – the referee blowing the whistle just as Ipswich were about to take a corner – rather summed up a frustrating night.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Knudsen; Toure (McGoldrick 71), Skuse, Douglas, Maitland-Niles (Fraser 80); Sears, Pitman (Murphy 66).

Unused subs: Bialkowski. Parr, Malarczyk, Coke.

BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-2-3-1): Kuszczak; Eardley (Caddis 45+), Morrison (cpt), Spector, Grounds; Kieftenbeld, Gleeson; Cotterill, Shinnie (Maghoma 73), Gray (Robinson 85); Donaldson. Unused subs: Legzdins, David, Total, Brock-Madsen.

Attendance: 18,973 (471 away)

Referee: Keith Stroud

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