Report: Ipswich Town 1 Norwich City 1 – Knudsen scores equaliser in first-half stoppage-time

Jonas Knudsen celebrates putting Town level at 1-1 in the Ipswich Town v Norwich City (Championship)

Jonas Knudsen celebrates putting Town level at 1-1 in the Ipswich Town v Norwich City (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 21 August 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Jonas Knudsen equalised right on the stroke of half-time as Ipswich Town drew 1-1 with bitter rivals Norwich City in a competitive East Anglian derby, at Portman Road, this lunchtime.

The Blues burst out the traps and dominated the opening 25 minutes before Cameron Jerome finished off a well-worked City opener massively against the run of play.

Knudsen netted with a crisp right-footed shot from the edge of the area in first-half stoppage-time though and an engaging game remained on a knife’s edge throughout.

Ipswich played with far more intensity than the visitors, but Alex Neil’s men had the better of the second half chances as Adam Webster cleared off the line and Steven Whittaker hit the post.

A draw was probably the fair result, all things considered, with Town earning their first league point against their cross-border rivals since 2009.

Mick McCarthy made one change to his team following their impressive performance in Tuesday night’s goalless draw at Wolves. Teddy Bishop – the side’s one bit of real star quality – was replaced by Kevin Bru as the Blues boss went for extra steel in midfield for derby day.

The game plan was clear: Fight, scrap and keep it tight for as long as possible, then call upon the likes of Bishop, Andre Dozzell and the fit-again Brett Pitman from the bench.

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City boss Alex Neil also made just one alteration to his team following their midweek 1-0 home win over Bristol City – Youssouf Mulumbu coming in for Josh Murphy. That meant skipper Jonathan Howson playing in a more advanced role.

The Blues burst out the blocks and never lost their intensity in a relentless, dominant opening 25 minutes.

There was huge controversy with barely a minute and a half on the clock when Town had the ball in the net only for the offside flag to be raised. After Kevin Bru’s deep free-kick was headed on by both Christophe Berra and Daryl Murphy, the alert Jonathan Douglas hooked the ball home from six yards out. Ivan Pinto, the last defender, was racing off his line but appeared to be level with Douglas at the crucial moment.

Town kept the pressure on and, less then two minutes later, Murphy dragged a right-footed shot wide inside the area after spinning Timm Klose.

Adam Webster and Berra shut the door on Cameron Jerome at the other end, but Norwich could barely get out their own half.

In the 10th minute, Murphy again out-muscled the 6ft 4in Klose with ease to create himself an opening. The Irishman took one touch too many in the area though and was eventually crowded out.

Freddie Sears raced back and dispossessed Ivan Pinto on the blindside to typify Town’s energy and desire. That led to another spell of home pressure, with Murphy’s looping header dropping inches over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

A strong Berra challenge on Jerome again had the Blues on the front foot and, after Luke Chambers nodded down Jonas Knudsen’s cross at the far post, Norwich again managed to ride the storm.

City’s well-worked opener therefore came massively against the run of play. Advanced full-back Pinto latched onto a long ball and left Sears on his backside with a direct run down the right, his low cut-back was dummied by Steven Naismith before Wes Hoolahan and Jonny Howson first-time passes led to Jerome stroking a low, first-time shot in off the inside of the left post.

Town’s energy gradually faded and, increasingly, Norwich grew in confidence as they saw more and more of the ball. Pinto surged forwards on the over-lap time-and-time again, with his low cross fired just over by Naismith.

Knudsen met a cross from the ever-dangerous Ward with his head, the ball eventually scrambled away, but it was now very much City who were on top and it seemed as though Town just needed to reach the break with no further damage sustained.

They did better than that though, Knudsen scoring with virtually the last action of the half. The stoppage-time equaliser originated from Chambers’ throw into the box from the right. Murphy held the ball up, knocked it square to Sears and, after another sideways pass, Knudsen took a touch before finding the bottom corner with a crisp right-footed effort on the edge of the area.

There was end-to-end action in the 53rd minute. Berra’s thumping header from a Bru corner was blocked by Howson, Norwich countered and, after Jerome nodded Hoolahan’s cross back across goal, Steven Whittaker’s mis-hit bouncing shot was headed off the line by Webster.

The tempo of the match had dropped from the breathless first half but it remained a game you couldn’t take your eyes off.

Town were the next to carve out an opening when, after Bru’s ball over the top, Murphy and Klose were left in a straight foot race. Murphy was the quicker and got to the ball first ahead of the lunging Swiss international, but then belatedly stumbled to the ground. The fact he didn’t look too mobile for a period afterwards suggested it was an awkward landing rather than a dive.

Town had just started to step up their intensity levels again, following the introduction of Teddy Bishop, but breathed a big sigh of relief in the 74th minute. Jerome got to the by-line and pulled the ball back and, after a really poor stabbed clearance by Webster, Whittaker – introduced at half-time for the injured Pinto – struck the near post with his shot. It was a major let-off.

Bishop was providing Town with an added threat in the final third and, in the 82nd minute, he charged down the keeper to forced a hurried clearance. Unfortunately for Ipswich, Murphy’s cross couldn’t pick out an attacker in the box.

Bishop was again the heart of things when Town forced McGovern into a brave save in the 88th minute. After Berra had headed down a Knudsen long throw, Bishop’s shot was blocked by Whittaker. The midfielder quickly charged down his own attempt, won the ball back but McGovern was quick off his line to block the shot.

The game was on a knife’s edge and Norwich created two openings of their own at the death. First, Hoolahan’s shot from the edge of the box was comfortably held by Bartosz Bialkowski, then Jacob Murphy flashed a shot across the face of goal after racing onto Hoolahan’s through ball.

It had been a highly competitive derby and, when the full-time whistle blew, the players left the filed to warm applause.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Douglas, Skuse, Bru (Bishop 70); Ward, Murphy, Sears (Varney 89).

Unused subs: Gerken, Smith, Kenlock, Dozzell, Pitman.

NORWICH CITY (4-2-3-1): McGovern; Pinto (Whittaker 46), Bennett, Klose, Brady; Tettey, Mulumbu (Jacob Murphy 61); Howson (cpt), Naismith (Canos 80), Hoolahan; Jerome.

Unused subs: Jones, Martin, Bassong, Lafferty.

Booked: Tettey (64)

Attendance: 23,350 (1,992 away)

Referee: David Coote

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