Town picked up their first away point in the Championship at Ipswich Town – and it was well earned after a lot of hard work and quality play at Portman Road.
The Terriers controlled the ball well at times against their hosts and led at the interval thanks to a first Town goal for Adam Clayton, but second-half strikes from Luke Chambers and Michael Chopra put the Tractor Boys in control.
However, Town showed fantastic character and could have easily won it. Loan striker James Vaughan notched his first goal for the Club with 10 minutes left and had the chance to win it when Jack Hunt was brought down in the area late on – only for ‘keeper Scott Loach to rescue a point for his side with an excellent save.
Contrary to the previous away game of the 2012/13 season at Cardiff, where the team lined up in a 4-3-3 shape, the Terriers started 4-4-2 at Portman Road with Danny Ward on the left flank and Adam Clayton operating from the right.
Town controlled the early play and troubled Ipswich ‘keeper Scott Loach as early as the fourth minute. James Vaughan was pulled back by home skipper Luke Chambers, allowing Oliver Norwood to curl a free kick towards the back post from a wide angle. Loach moved late, but still managed to get the ball to safety.
Ipswich soon fought back with striker Michael Chopra firing wide from an acute angle, but an almost identical foul by Chambers on loanee Vaughan gave Norwood a second set-piece opportunity. This time a defender cleared the ball, but Danny Ward picked it up and crossed to the near post where Joel Lynch flashed a header just wide.
The hosts had their best chance of the half just before the quarter hour mark when the speedy Lee Martin pulled the ball back to big Daryl Murphy inside the Town area, but he didn’t strike his shot properly when in space – allowing Peter Clarke to get a typical sliding block in.
The resulting corner caused more problems for Town when Chambers – a constant threat at set-pieces for Ipswich – headed towards goal, but Jack Hunt was well positioned to volley the ball clear.
The Terriers responded with Paul Dixon beating a man with a terrific run down the left, but Vaughan could only head his cross over the bar from around the penalty spot.
Ipswich new boy Paul Taylor – signed from Peterborough on Thursday – showed impressive feet throughout the half, but was guilty of a lack of composure in the 22nd minute when he blazed well wide with a shot. He showed the more impressive side of the game upon the restart, jinking past four Town players as he cut infield from the right before stinging the palms of Alex Smithies with a shot from the edge of the box.
Town were controlled in possession when they had the ball and Grayson had clearly given Adam Clayton license to roam. He got on the end of Lee Novak’s pull back in the 25th minute and drove into the box, but shot into the side netting when hitting the ball towards the back post was probably the better option.
However, the midfielder wasn’t to be denied and netted his first Town goal with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Town won a corner on the break when right back Jack Ainsley blocked Danny Ward’s cross behind; Norwood’s delivery was only cleared to the edge of the box and after Clayton and Ward had decent-looking shots blocked, the ball fell to the former Manchester City man – who steered a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Town defended gamely for the rest of the half as the hosts tried to find a leveller before the interval, but apart from another Chambers set-piece header that went wide the Tractor Boys couldn’t find a way through.
Ipswich came out of the tunnel in determined fashion in the second half, using the towering Daryl Murphy as a target with aerial balls. An early corner caused problems in the Town box, but the Terriers still had a cutting edge – and Ward went close to extending the lead in the 55th minute. His cut infield and right foot shot was pushed out by Loach, who recovered excellently to smother Vaughan’s follow-up.
Smithies acrobatically pushed an over-hit Murphy cross wide of the far post soon after before Vaughan showed a great piece of skill; pulling the ball out of the sky, spinning towards goal and striking a crisp volley narrowly over.
Ipswich then equalised just after the hour mark and it was a rare lack of concentration from Town from a set play. Hunt pushed Murphy in an aerial challenge, allowing Drury to swing the ball in – nobody picked up the tall Smith at the back post and he placed his header onto the foot of Luke Chambers, who hooked the ball home at close range.
That goal – and the threat of Murphy – made Simon Grayson decide on a tactical switch, with Anthony Gerrard replacing Dixon and Town moving to 3-5-2. However, Ipswich were enjoying a purple patch and a defence-splitting pass released Michael Chopra through on goal, who made no mistake in drawing Smithies before dinking the ball over the stricken ‘keeper. Town were disappointed that the offside flag didn’t come.
Town weren’t done though. First Vaughan headed over a corner and then new boy Adam Hammill was handed his Town debut as a replacement for Novak as Grayson positioned him just behind the main striker.
That move paid dividends when Town equalised ten minutes from time. Danny Ward was released down the left flank and his low ball into the six yard box was perfect for Norwich loanee Vaughan, who tapped home for his first goal in Town colours.
Then a crazy five minutes ensued. First Murphy hit the post with a snapshot and then Town countered at speed, with sub Hammill sliding Hunt into the area. The right back was hauled down by a marker and despite a delay in the decision, it eventually came.
Up stepped Vaughan to seal his fate as the hero of the afternoon – but instead that honour fell to Loach. The Ipswich ‘keeper got a strong hand to the penalty, pushing the ball onto the bar and enjoying his luck as the ball ran across the line and to safety.
Vaughan had one final chance to win it after out-muscling Smith to create a shooting opportunity, but Loach denied him again – pushing his strong shot around the post.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon (Antony Gerrard 68), Joel Lynch (Calum Woods 85), Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Keith Southern, Oliver Norwood, Adam Clayton; Danny Ward, James Vaughan, Lee Novak (Adam Hammill 77)
Ian Bennett, Scott Arfield, Alan Lee, Jimmy Spencer
Town booking: James Vaughan (85)
Ipswich Town booking: Andy Drury (50)