REPORT: Rotherham 2 Ipswich Town 0
Rotherham v Ipswich: Ipswich Town’s mid-season wobble continued with a 2-0 defeat at relegation-battling Rotherham United this afternoon.
The Blues – who are now nearer seventh than they are the top two – didn’t take good chances at key moments and twice conceded from set-pieces, Matt Derbyshire (38) and recent Town loanee Conor Sammon (64) scoring in either half.
Daryl Murphy fluffed two golden openings in the opening 10 minutes before Derbyshire stooped to head home the Millers’ first real chance of the match, the Blues allowing the home side to win three uncontested headers following Ben Pringle’s deep free-kick delivery.
The introduction of Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop early in the second half sparked life into Town, who had once again looked jaded, and twice they came close to levelling as keeper Adam Collin tipped over Luke Chambers’ powerful header and Zeki Fryers cleared a Murphy header off the line.
Rotherham counter-attacked to add a killer second though, Sammon lashing home a loose ball after Pringle’s corner from the left had caused panic in the box.
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Ipswich have now won just one of their last seven games in all competitions, claiming four points from a possible 15, to drop to fifth in the table. A bad day was capped off by the fact that promotion rivals Bournemouth, Derby, Middlesbrough, Brentford, Watford and Norwich were all victorious.
Town had a golden chance to break the deadlock just seconds after kick-off. After the home side conceded possession quickly, Luke Chambers bent a ball up the line and Daryl Murphy out-muscled Craig Morgan to race clear one-on-one. The Irishman fluffed his shot though, keeper Adam Collin comfortably saving.
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Murphy - back in the side following a one-game injury absence - wasted another good opportunity in the ninth minute, firing well over after Jay Tabb’s corner fell at his feet in the box.
Despite those early openings, the quality of the game was poor and both teams continually made unforced errors to surrender possession.
David McGoldrick hit a powderpuff effort wide from the edge of the box and Tabb’s well-struck volley flew comfortably wide as an Ipswich side huffed and puffed in their attacking attempts.
To rub salt in the wounds, Rotherham then scored with their first meaningful attempt on goal - aided by some poor defending. Following Ben Pringle’s deep free-kick into the area the home side won three unchallenged headers and the ball was in the back of the net. First Conor Newton helped the delivery on, then Craig Morgan nodded back across the box and the stooping Derbyshire was left in acres of room to finish from close-range.
When Luke Chambers headed a deep free-kick delivery well wide moments later, Blues boss Mick McCarthy spun on the edge of his technical area and meandered back to his seat with a look of concern on his face.
Seven minutes into the second half, McCarthy decided he had seen enough and made a double substitution - bringing on creative midfielder Teddy Bishop and livewire striker Freddie Sears for the hard-working but limited wide duo of Paul Anderson and Tabb.
The offensive switch, the Blues deploying a 4-3-3 system, lifted the 1,879 away fans behind the goal their side was now attacking. It created a huge momentum shift.
Within seconds, Zeki Fryers was booked for a wild lunge on Kevin Bru out on the right wing. Cole Skuse’s clipped delivery was met powerfully by the head of Chambers and keeper Collin reacted superbly to tip the ball over the bar.
Town went mightily close again four minutes later, Murphy meeting Sears’ corner delivery with his head only for Fryers - stood on the post - to clear off the line.
Rotherham looked to be rocking but then, massively against the run of play, they scored a killer second in the 64th minute. Pringle’s corner from the left created havoc in a crowded area, Sammon in the right place at the right time to lash home the loose ball.
It was a body blow that the visitors never recovered from and it required a good one-on-one save from Bartosz Bialkowski to prevent sub Jordan Bowery from making it 3-0 in the final moments.
ROTHERHAM (4-4-2): Collin; Richardson, Morgan (cpt), Arnason, Fryers; Newton, Green, Smallwood, Pringle; Derbyshire (Bowery 85), Sammon (Ward 75).
Unused subs: Thompson, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Milsom, Hammill.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Mings; Anderson (Sears 52), Skuse, Bru, Tabb (Bishop 52); Murphy, McGoldrick (N.Hunt 75).
Unused subs: Kenny, Parr, Clarke, S.Hunt.
Attendance: 10,336 (1,879 away)
Referee: Gavin Ward