Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town: Maguire’s goal beats Blues and sees Lambert’s men drop out of top six
Chris Maguire’s vicious strike with 10 minutes remaining was enough to condemn Ipswich Town to a third-successive defeat against a promotion contender this afternoon.
The Blues, coming off of losses to Rotherham and Peterborough, had the better of the game throughout the first-half but were ultimately beaten as the Black Cats raised their game after the interval.
Maguire's excellent finish from outside the box came after the hosts had rattled the Ipswich wordwork twice in the second period, as Phil Parkinson's side had the better of the second period to claim the three points.
The defeat sees Paul Lambert's side drop out of the top six into seventh, with Sunderland leaping above them into the final play-off place going into Tuesday night's visit to AFC Wimbledon.
Lambert made five changes to his side for this encounter, restoring Tomas Holy in place of Will Norris between the sticks, bringing in Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock for Gwion Edwards (suspended) and Luke Garbutt (thigh injury) at full-back. Jon Nolan replaced Alan Judge as the most advanced of the Ipswich midfielders and James Norwood returned in attack in place of Kayden Jackson.
After dealing with some testing aerial balls as Sunderland looked to get in behind, the Blues had the first real opening of the game as Will Keane took a touch, turned and threaded Kenlock away to fire a drive towards goal which was blocked away by Luke O'Nien.
Charlie Wyke had the ball in the net soon after but the big striker had strayed offside to connect with Chris Maguire's cross to turn home, before Norwood kept a long Holy pass in superbly to set up a move which ended with Will Keane heading Luke Woolfenden's cross over the top of the bar.
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After Norwood had seen a clipped effort bounce away off of goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, Nolan was the next to try his luck as his low effort was saved with the Blues putting their hosts under pressure as the full-backs maintained advanced positions.
Ipswich continued to play some good football, with clever passes, good movement and runs to probe the home backline, but McLaughlin wasn't tested again before the interval came.
There was a heart's in mouths moment as the first-half ended as Holy hesitated and came charging out of goal, nearly reaching his manager's technical area before finally making his clearance.
As the two teams left at the break, you feared Ipswich's lack of cutting edge would cost them.
And the nervy times continued at the start of the second period as Lynden Gooch rattled a post before Charlie Wyke could only turn the rebound straight at Holy and Donacien was required to throw his body in the way of two vicious Denver Hume efforts.
An indirect free-kick following a pass-back inside the box brought Ipswich's first real effort of the second period, but Norwood scuffed his shot towards goal before Donacien could only turn the loose ball over the top of the bar.
Ipswich should really have been behind but Bailey Wright could only fire Hume's cross back off the bar with the goal gaping, before Lambert played his first cards as Emyr Huws and Jackson were introduced for Norwood and Nolan.
Then, the goal. Sunderland worked the ball in from their left flank towards Maguire who let fly with venom from the edge of the box, beating Holy for power with excellent placement.
The Blues struggled to find any real response and rarely threatened before falling to defeat.
Sunderand: McLaughlin; Willis, Wright, Flanagan; O'Nien, Hume (Lafferty 79) Power, Dobson; Maguire, Wyke, Gooch
Subs: Burge, McLaughlin, Ozturk, Semenyo, Scowen, Watmore
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden; Donacien (Earl 78), Kenlock; Skuse, Downes; Nolan (Huws, 71); Keane, Norwood (Jackson, 71)
Subs: Norris, Dozzell, Judge, Sears
Att: 32,726 (1,976 Ipswich fans)