Report: Newcastle United 3 Ipswich Town 0 – Blues comfortably beaten by table-toppers

Tom Lawrence goes toe-to-toe with Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey

Tom Lawrence goes toe-to-toe with Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey

The extra quality of Championship table-toppers Newcastle United showed as Ipswich Town were comfortably beaten 3-0 at St James’ Park this afternoon.

Ayoze Perez converted a volley with barely a minute played and then, somehow, the Blues made it to the break with no further damage sustained.

Town were a lot more solid after the restart, but Perez again showed good instincts in the box to double the lead (73) before Matt Ritchie’s strike (78) made sure of the home win that never really looked in doubt.

Ipswich, missing the injured Cole Skuse, were over-run in midfield and six-cap ngland international Jonjo Shelvey was able to pull the strings from deep.

Both sets of fans in the 52,000 capacity crowd were united in their chants hailing former boss Sir Bobby Robson, with around 2,700 Blues supporters having made the trip to the north east.

The only real positive for Ipswich was to see both David McGoldrick and Jonny Williams return to action, both as subs, following their lengthy spells out on the sidleines.

Newcastle are now three points clear of Norwich at the top, following five straight wins, while Town are down to 17th in the standings ahead of games against Rotherham (h) and Sheffield Wednesday (a) prior to the next international break.

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Blues boss Mick McCarthy made three changes to his team following Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over Burton. Skuse (toe) was an enforced absentee, while Teddy Bishop and Kevin Bru dropped to the bench. They were replaced by Jonathan Douglas, Grant Ward and Conor Grant as Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 system, Douglas sitting in front of the back four, Tom Lawrence on the right, Freddie Sears on the left and Grant and Ward the central midfield duo.

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez freshened his team up with three changes following their 2-0 midweek win at Barnsley and it was two of the players promoted to the team – left-winger Yoan Guffran and attacking midfielder Perez – who contributed massively to the home side’s bright opening period.

It took Toon little more than a minute to break the deadlock. Left-back Paul Dummett was given too much time and space to cross, Gouffran back-headered the ball to the far post and Perez arrived late to coolly convert a low dropping volley.

McCarthy almost immediately changed system, pushing Sears further forwards and putting Ward out on the right and moving Lawrence across to the left.

That did little to stem the tide though and Newcastle’s high press and quick moving of the ball continually caused the visitors a headache as Dwight Gayle sidefooted DeAndre Yedlin’s low cross over from 12 yards.

During a brief respite of pressure, Town struck the crossbar in the 10th minute. After Luke Chambers failed to get a good connection on his header attacking Lawrence’s corner, ex-Toon striker Leon Best controlled and worked himself half a yard of room in the area before rattling the woodwork with a rising shot.

It was relentless Newcastle attacking after this though as the home team continually won the midfield battle and worked the ball wide.

Ritchie saw a shot deflected wide after some good Gayle hold up play, then a Gouffran cross flashed across the six yard box.

Gouffran was again involved when he supplied the sharp pass which led to Ritchie’s shot deflecting wide off Christophe Berra.

Town finally broke out of their own half in the 26th minute when centre-back Adam Webster drove forwards with the ball for a good 60 yards before hitting a left-footed shot just wide.

Newcastle had big penalty appeals controversially waved away in the 35th minute. Shelvey – who was increasingly pulling the strings from deep with a fine array of passing – split the Town defence with a clever ball, Gayle beat the offside trap but then hit the deck after skipping to the side of the on-rushing Bartosz Bialkowski. Referee James Adcock was unmoved.

Ex-England international Shelvey produced a fine piece of skill and raking pass which, after a Perez back-heel, led to Ritchie shooting well wide.

McCarthy had been in deep discussion with assistant Terry Connor and, at half-time, made a double substitution. Left-back Jonas Knudsen, who was on a booking, was replaced by Josh Emmanuel, while the fit-again David McGoldrick came on for Best, the latter having dislocated his finger.

Town, now playing a 4-4-2 system, suddenly looked a lot more solid and kept the hosts out of their half for long periods in a fairly uneventful opening 15 minutes of the second period.

Newcastle’s first chance of the second half arrived in the 63rd minute when, following a cross from the left, Ritchie slipped as he shot over.

Moments later, McGoldrick provided some trademark trickery to work himself some room and hit a long-range shot that was easily dealt with by keeper Karl Darlow.

Two minutes later, Toon attacked and Gouffran’s rising shot from the angle of the box was beaten away by Bialkowski.

However, just as you sensed a bit of frustration creeping in among the home fans, the Magpies doubled their lead in the 73rd minute. Shelvey again orchestrated the play from deep, Ritchie worked himself some room to cross from the right and Perez again emphatically converted first time in the area.

The St James’ Park crowd finally found their voices and the home players began to enjoy themselves. A third goal was added in the 79th minute when, following a poor clearance and a quick exchange of passes, Ritchie fired beyond Bialkowski in the box.

NEWCASTLE UTD (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Yedlin, Lascelles (cpt), Clark, Dummett; Shelvey (Hayden 83), Colback; Ritchie, Perez, Gouffran (Atsu 75); Gayle (Mitrovic 79).

Unused subs: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Diame.

Booked: Colback (27), Dummett (86)

IPSWICH TOWN (4-1-4-1): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen (Emmanuel 46); Douglas; Lawrence, Ward, Grant, Sears (Williams 83); Best (McGoldrick 46).

Unused subs: Gerken, Digby, Bru, Bishop.

Booked: Knudsen (41)

Attendance: 51,963 (2,700 away)

Referee: James Adcock