REPORT: Ipswich Town 2 Burton Albion 0 – Chambers and Sears score as Blues returning to winning ways
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town returned to winning ways, ending a five-game goal drought, as Luke Chambers and Freddie Sears scored in each half of a 2-0 home triumph over Burton Albion.
This was the most entertaining spectacle seen at Portman Road in some time as the Brewers, enjoying their first ever season in the second-tier following back-to-back promotions, gave as good as they got in and end-to-end encounter.
It was to be the Blues’ night though as skipper Chambers converted a diving header in the 15th minute before Sears sealed a much-needed three points two minutes from time with a predatory finish.
A whole host of unwanted statistics have come to end for Mick McCarthy’s men. A 500-minute goal drought is over, this is the first win in six matches, while Sears has finally got his own 38-game goalless monkey off the back.
It is also, remarkably, Town’s first win in the month of October for five years. And they have now kept five clean sheets in seven, even though Burton had 16 attempts and 12 corners in this match, to climb to 12th in the Championship table.
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McCarthy made two changes to his starting XI following Saturday’s goalless draw at Blackburn – Teddy Bishop and Kevin Bru replacing Grant Ward and Jonathan Douglas (injured) respectively.
That meant a switch to a 4-2-3-1 system to combat Burton’s wing-back formation. Bru and Cole Skuse sat deepest in midfield, with Tom Lawrence on the right, Sears on the left and Bishop in the No.10 role behind lone striker Leon Best.
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Burton enjoyed the better of a quiet start to the match, with striker Lucas Akins running the channels well. The Brewers’ top-scorer from their two promotion seasons fired over on the angle after out-muscling Adam Webster on the edge of the box, then forced a corner down the other side.
It was Ipswich who broke the deadlock though, with their first real attack, to finally end a goal drought that had just ticked past the 500 minute mark. Best’s persistence in the middle led to Bru finding Sears on the left with a fine outside of the boot pass and he in turn crossed for an unmarked Chambers to convert with a diving far post header.
Moments later, Bishop raced back and executed a perfect sliding tackle in striker Akins to further lift the home crowd.
Burton refused to wilt though and twice came close to levelling the match in the 23rd minute. First, Kyle McFadzean headed a Matt Palmer corner just over the bar, then Akins fired wide, under pressure from Jonas Knudsen, after he’d been sent racing away by strike partner Chris O’Grady.
Thereafter the end-to-end action resembled that of basketball match in a frantic final 20 minutes of the half.
It required a superb last-ditch intervention from John Brayford to prevent Sears pulling the trigger at the far post following Best’s hooked pass across the box. Soon afterwards, Best’s through the eye of the needle pass on the edge of the box was just too heavy for Bishop.
Burton hit back and were guilty of passing up a golden opportunity just before the half hour mark. Jamie Ward played a sharp one-two with Brayford before hitting an innocuous long-range shot that Bartosz Bialkowski pushed away into danger. Thankfully for Town, Lloyd Dyer put the rebound well wide.
Ipswich had the next two chances. Bru couldn’t quite adjust his feet in time on the edge of the six-yard box after McFadzean missed Bishop’s cross from the right. Then, after a bout of head tennis following a corner, Bru’s heavily deflected hooked shot went inches wide.
The visitors continued to pose a big threat and again Town were left breathing a sigh of relief in the 37th minute after being cut through like butter. A rapid counter-attack finished with Dyer firing over from 10 yards out after a neat one-two with Ward in the box.
Burton then had big penalty appeals waved away when, after a short corner was worked inside, Jackson Irvine’s shot goalbound shot appeared to strike Best’s arm in the box. The Blues striker had appeared to lean towards the ball too.
Town were far more entertaining than they have been of late and one Bishop flick and Lawrence driving run had supporters off their seats. The Blues were also far more open too though and were fortunate to reach the break in front.
There was still time for one more big Burton chance before the half-time whistle. Brayford again surged forwards from his right wing-back role, played a quick give-and-go with Ward to burst into the box, with his angled shot saved at the near post by the legs of Bialkowski.
It was a more sedate start to the second half before Ipswich went close in the 54th minute. Lawrence provided a mesmerising run inside, found Best with a pass before the striker’s shot was blocked brilliantly by Ben Turner.
The Blues went even close just before the hour mark. Jonas Knudsen’s quick throw up the line allowed Sears to cross from the by-line, Lawrence’s downward header was cleared off the line by McFadzean and Bishop, under pressure, fired the rebound well over.
Burton were still having spells of attacking pressure, but Ipswich defended well and continued to pose a threat at the other end. Best did superbly to cushion a header into the path of Knudsen in the box, but the left-back produced an air-kick at the vital moment. Moments later, Best toe-poked an effort straight at keeper McLaughlin after creating himself room in the box.
The visitors forced their 12th corner of the game in the 74th minute, but there was yet more good defending from the Blues as Bialkowski, Lawrence and substitute Conor Grant were left in a heap.
Town had to defend another good set-piece delivery in the 78th minute when Berra wrestled with Ben Turner at the far post following a whipped in free-kick. Burton screamed for a penalty, the two players clashed off the ball and the referee had to have a lengthy word.
There was a contentious moment in the 83rd minute when, following a long ball, keeper McLaughlin raced off his line and wiped out defender McFadzean just outside the area. The referee stopped the game for a head injury when it looked like the Blues might capitilise.
Just when you thought it might be a nervy finish to the game, Town netted their killer second with two minutes to go as Sears had his golden moment. Lawrence, who had got better and better throughout, beat two men in the box with some neat footwork and passed sideways for the late-arriving Sears to stab a shot into the top corner.
Every single Blues player congratulated the forward, whose previous goal was scored at Fulham back on December 15, 2015, with keeper Bialkowski running the length of the field to join in the celebrations by the corner flag.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse (Grant 63), Bru; Lawrence, Bishop (Ward 68), Sears; Best (Digby 83).
Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Dozzell.
Booked: Skuse (35)
BURTON ALBION (3-5-2): McLaughlin; Mousinho (cpt) (Harness 84), McFadzean, Turner; Brayford (Flanagan 89), Ward, Palmer, Irvine (Williamson 89), Dyer; Akins, O’Grady.
Unused subs: Bywater, Naylor, Willer, Choudhury.
Booked: Irvine (21), Mousinho (80)
Attendance: 15,818 (134 away)
Referee: Oliver Langford