West Brom 1-1 Ipswich Town: Blues secure Hawthorns point with excellent display at promotion-chasers
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Ipswich Town put in an excellent display to secure a point at West Brom and, arguably, deserved to leave The Hawthorns with all three.
The Blues were behind after just four minutes after Stefan Johansen’s free-kick deflected home off of Jonas Knudsen but, from there, the visitors were more than a match for their hosts despite the vast gap between the two in the table.
Paul Lambert’s men needed a string of superb saves from Bartosz Bialkowski to keep the deficit at only one but, once Jon Nolan had superbly headed home James Bree’s cross it was the lowly visitors who looked the most likely winners.
Ipswich were tenacious, ambitious and composed as they looked to work the ball through the thirds and into danger and profit on numerous West Brom errors, with substitute Kayden Jackson having the two best chances to win it as he used his pace to get in behind.
He couldn’t take them as the game ended in a draw, but the Blues were once again applauded off by 1,200 travelling fans who appreciated their side’s efforts and cheered them on throughout.
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Lambert made three changes to his side following the crushing loss at Reading as Jonas Knudsen, Gwion Edwards and Cole Skuse came into the side for James Collins, Trevoh Chalobah (both injured) and Matt Pennington (ill).
Early goals have cost the Blues dear in recent weeks and it was the same story here as a limp header from Myles Kenlock landed between Chambers and Knudsen, with the latter having little option but to drag down Dwight Gayle. Quick as a flash, the resulting free-kick was in the back of the net as Johansen’s effort hit Knudsen square in the chest and wrong-footed Bartosz Bialkowski.
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Quaner, Chambers and then Skuse all had efforts off target as Ipswich looked to play their way into the game which, despite their side being a goal to the good, began to put the home crowd on edge.
The hosts still threatened regularly though, with Bialkowski called into action to turn a Jacob Murphy shot round the post before Jon Nolan was perhaps lucky to only see a free-kick awarded against him for a needless foul on Craig Dawson. He made up for it from the resulting set-piece as he superbly dispossessed Gayle.
Teddy Bishop’s driving runs were creating chances but it was Nolan was the source of Ipswich’s best in the opening period, as his beautifully chipped ball for Quaner saw the German chest the ball down and drive a shot towards goal which Sam Johnstone saved well with his legs.
Bialkowski was required to make two more excellent saves before the half was out, firstly from Murphy as he turned a low shot wide before stopping Tosin Adarabioyo’s header smartly from the resulting corner.
Skuse’s shot was blocked behind by Dawson to end the half, with Ipswich claiming a hand ball which replays showed not to be the case.
Jackson replaced Quaner at the break and the Blues were soon level.
A move down the right flank resulted in James Bree hitting a first-time cross straight onto Nolan’s head, which the former Shrewsbury man did superbly well to direct into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
The next in a succession of superb Bialkowski saves saw the Pole react sharply to deny Gayle inside the box, before the Blues stormed down the other end and slipped Jackson in behind as the striker’s shot was well-saved by Johnstone in the Baggies’ goal.
The home crowd’s frustrations continued to grow, as did their error count, and the boos rang out at the final whistle.
By contrast, though, the Ipswich supporters gave their players a stand ovation as they left the field after an excellent performance.
West Brom: Johnstone; Adarabioyo (Field 86), Dawson, Bartley, Townsend; Livermore, Johansen (Morrison 70); Phillips (Leko 63), Murphy, Gayle, Rodriguez Subs: Bond, Harper, Montero, Brunt Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Bree, Chambers, Knudsen, Kenlock; Skuse, Bishop (Dawkins 70), Nolan; Edwards, Judge, Quaner (Jackson 46) Subs: Gerken; Emmanuel, Nsiala, Nydam, Dozzell Att: 23.973 (1,246 away)