Report: Ipswich Town 2 Bristol City 2 - Fraser rescues a point for the Blues at end of flat team display
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ryan Fraser’s late goal rescued a point for Ipswich Town following a flat team display in this afternoon’s 2-2 draw with Bristol City at Portman Road.
Following a laboured first half performance, Luke Chambers headed Town in front just 45 seconds after the restart. Mick McCarthy’s men failed to turn the screw though and conceded two soft goals in the space of four minutes, Luke Freeman and Jonathan Kodjia putting the visitors ahead just before the hour mark.
The newly-promoted Robins looked to be heading for only their second win of the campaign as Town huffed and puffed, but then Fraser swept home from inside the six-yard box following Freddie Sears’ low cross.
Nevertheless, it was another frustrating Portman Road outing for the Blues who have now claimed just five points from their last five league outings to slip to seventh in the Championship table.
McCarthy, having changed his entire starting XI for the midweek Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United, reverted largely to the team which lined up in the 1-1 home draw against Birmingham last Friday.
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The only two exceptions were Daryl Murphy keeping his place over Brett Pitman up front and the fully fit Fraser returning to the team at the expense of Larsen Toure.
Tommy Oar, Piotr Malarczyk and Josh Yorwerth were the unfortunate players to miss out on a place in the match day squad altogether, again highlighting Town’s improved strength in depth this season.
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McCarthy took 24 players to Old Trafford in order for them all to sample the experience and provide added motivation for the promotion battle ahead. The team coach returned at half past three on Thursday morning though and a laboured first half performance ensued.
Bristol City may have won just one of their opening eight games to the campaign, following promotion from League One, but their attack-minded wing-back system makes them a threat against anyone – as Middlesbrough found when they lost 1-0 at home to the Robins recently.
Steve Cotterill’s side started well and it required a fine stop by Dean Gerken to keep the scores level in the fourth minute, the Blues custodian sticking out a strong right hand to block Jonathan Kodjia’s powerful strike inside the area. The Frenchman could be criticised for going for power rather than placement, following Aaron Wilbraham’s deft lay-off, but take nothing away from the save.
Both teams traded half-chances in a scrappy opening 20 minutes, the visitors’ towering duo of Aden Flint and Wilbraham winning the physical duels at either end of the field.
Ipswich did improve as the half wore on and began to dominate possession, but time and time again the final pass or cross was lacking in the final third.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles failed to beat the first man with a corner delivery, the ball got stuck under Daryl Murphy’s feet in the box following Ryan Fraser’s driving run and pull-back, while Jonas Knudsen’s long throw-in somehow managed to bounce twice in the box as strikers and defenders alike all missed the ball.
Bristol City continued to pose the occasional threat and on a couple of occasions Town defenders had to scramble the ball clear after failing to win the first aerial battle.
The closest either team came to scoring was when Flint powerfully met Fraser’s corner and sent the ball fizzing towards his own goal, forcing Frank Fielding into a full length save.
McCarthy would have been well within his rights to make half-time changes, but he gave the same players a chance to up their game and the response was a goal just 45 seconds after the restart.
Knudsen’s long throw-in from the left was headed straight back to him, the Danish international produced a fine cross and Chambers leapt majestically the far post to head home. Flint, back on the line, could only stab his attempted block high into the roof of the net.
Moments later, Murphy controlled the ball, spun and lashed an angled shot just past the post from 20 yards out.
That should have been the cue for Town to step up a gear and really stamp their authority on the game. Instead, they conceded two soft goals in the space of four minutes.
The equaliser came from nowhere, Freeman’s weak shot from the edge of the area clipping the heels of Tommy Smith and trickling past Gerken. There was nothing the home keeper could have done.
And the scores were reversed in the 56th minute, Kodjia latching on to a simple pass inside from Wilbraham, skipping past a flat-footed Christophe Berra in the area, holding off the attentions of Knudsen before firing high into the net.
It was the fifth goal of the season for the Ivorian striker recruited from French club Angers for £2.1m this summer.
Town responded, but continued to huff and puff in attack. First Fraser put an unmarked header straight at Fielding, then the backpedaling Robins keeper had to tip over the bar after Fraser’s cross looped up off the head of Luke Ayling.
The home crowd began to chant David McGoldrick’s name and McCarthy responded by bringing him on for Murphy in the 67th minute.
Town’s play, and the atmosphere, all went rather flat for a spell. McGoldrick’s darting run and blocked shot lifted the Blues supporters temporarily, but it was clear the onus was on the below-par players to give their fans something to shout about.
Increasingly that moment didn’t look like it was going to arrive, but Town got themselves level in the 86th minute.
After Douglas had strode forward with the ball and passed into the area, sub Brett Pitman controlled, Sears took the ball off his toes to fizz a low, first time cross and Fraser was there to sweep the ball home inside the six-yard box.
Five minutes of added time were awarded due to the stoppage after Chambers’ game ending injury. Ipswich came close to winning it, when Pitman diverted McGoldrick’s shot just wide with his head, but in truth the Blues didn’t deserve all three points.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt) (Parr 85), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (Pitman 71), Skuse, Douglas, Fraser; Sears, Murphy (McGoldrick 67).
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Tabb, Bru, Toure.
BRISTOL CITY (3-5-2): Fielding; Baker, Flint, Williams; Little, Pack, Freeman, Bryan, Ayling; Kodjia (Burns 90), Wilbraham (cpt).
Unused subs: O’Leary, Robinson, Agard, Reid, Moore.
Booked: Pack (37), Baker (45), Wilbraham (62)
Attendance: 20,347 (487 away)
Referee: Peter Bankes