IPSWICH 2 TOWN 1
After three straight wins, Town were denied a share of the spoils by an 89th minute goal from Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy.
Town led at the interval, with Danny Ward’s third of the season owing much to terrific work from Adam Hammill. However, they should have been further ahead – with skipper James Vaughan missing a penalty for the second time in successive seasons at Portman Road.
Ipswich fought back in the second-half, with David McGoldrick equalising early on and Murphy cruelly netting in the final minute of normal time.
Town started the game in their customary 3-5-2 formation, whereas Ipswich’s plan was clear from the off. The hard-working Tractor Boys had big Daryl Murphy and Frank Nouble up front flanking David McGoldrick and played quite a direct style up to their front men, who were working the channels well.
At the other end Vaughan started in lively fashion and his anticipation saw him read Luke Chambers’ back-pass after six minutes. Although the striker got a foot to the ball, ‘keeper Dean Gerken did just enough to make the tackle with his feet.
It was no surprise that Ipswich’s first real chance came from a corner, expertly delivered by left back Aaron Cresswell. Scotland international centre back Christophe Berra got his head to the ball, but under heavy pressure his eighth minute effort drifted wide of the far post.
Vaughan then missed a golden opportunity to put his side ahead three minutes later. When Cole Skuse fouled Hammill, the lively picked himself up and curled a beautiful delivery between the defensive line and the goalkeeper- but Vaughan glanced his header wide when completely unmarked and with the goal at his mercy.
McGoldrick and Murphy’s subsequent shots from out wide were easy pickings for Alex Smithies at the other end, but Murphy’s physicality was a real test. He chased a hopeful clearance over the top and won the battle with Paul Dixon, but Smithies was alert and sprang from his line before diving bravely on the ball.
Man of the moment Oliver Norwood was quiet in the early stages, but a smart one-two with Clayton in the 22nd minute set him into space. With the Town following urging him to shoot after his two spectacular recent goals the Northern Ireland international obeyed, but although his effort was dipping it never troubled the Ipswich goal.
Then came the penalty. After Ward had stung Gerken’s palms with a powerful drive from an acute angle, Dixon played a cross into the box; the ball flew up into the air and with Vaughan underneath it, Berra knocked the striker in the back and referee Gary Sutton showed absolutely no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, ‘keeper Gerken replicated Scott Loach’s achievement last season. With Vaughan looking to place the ball in the same spot that beat the Burnley ‘keeper last week, Gerken sprang to his left and easily claimed the tame spot-kick.
That let-off buoyed the Ipswich faithful, but Mark Robins soon made a tactical switch to gain back the momentum. Town switched to 4-1-4-1 with Clayton shielding the defence, Hammill on the left and Ward on the right.
That paid off four minutes later when Hammill ghosted down the outside of right back Chambers before dribbling down the dead ball line and prodding the ball across goal. The ball got a touch off a stretching Vaughan before falling to Ward, who gleefully slammed home from ten yards out for his third of the campaign.
Hammill was full of confidence after his role in Town’s opener and soon skipped infield before bending a fantastic shot onto Gerken’s crossbar from 20 yards with the custodian beaten.
However, the final chance of the half fell to the hosts – and it was their best of the game to date. When Norwood was robbed of possession in midfield, the ball ran to McGoldrick - who jinked his way past two defenders before firing goalwards on his favoured right. A stationary Alex Smithies will have been grateful to see the ball fly past the outside of his right-hand post.
Despite that miss, McGoldrick didn’t have to wait long for his goal. Five minutes into the second-half, Jonathan Hogg played a poor pass infield from the right back area and gifted the hosts possession; the midfielder quickly played the ball into the striker’s feet, who steadied himself in the area before firing low between Smithies and the near post.
Ipswich were buoyed by the equaliser and took the attack to Town. Murphy soon broke the offside trap to advance down the left, but somehow his excellent low ball across the face of goal evaded defenders and attackers alike.
Another cross into the box from Cresswell in the 54th minute was then half-cleared into the path of Chambers, who had run off Hammill. The defender made an excellent contact on the volley, but the ball powered over the crossbar.
Town responded just before the hour mark when Hogg was tripped on the edge of the Ipswich penalty area. Goalscorer Ward stepped up and fired a powerful low effort towards goal, but the ‘keeper was equal to it.
That proved to be Ward’s last action of the game, but his replacement Sean Scannell went very close in the 67th minute. After backing a defender into the penalty area, he let fly – and his effort was deflected before Gerken somehow pushed the ball around the post.
Hammill was next to try his luck after a sustained spell of possession, with his volley from out wide forcing Gerken into more action – an acrobatic two-handed save high to his right side.
Murphy then misplaced a pass straight to Vaughan, who cleverly found Hogg’s forward run with a slide-rule pass. The former Watford man back-heeled the ball into Norwood’s path on the edge of the area, but his shot was well blocked by a recovering defender.
That pressure came to nothing, however and it was Ipswich who grabbed all three points with a last minute goal. Lynch was penalised for climbing on Murphy and when Cresswell delivered the ball into the area, the ball was knocked back across goal from a clutch of players and Murphy headed home from close range.
Town’s team vs. Ipswich (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Tommy Smith; Paul Dixon, Oliver Norwood, Jonathan Hogg (Duane Holmes, 90), Adam Clayton, Adam Hammill; Danny Ward (Sean Scannell, 59), James Vaughan
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Oscar Gobern, Murray Wallace, Harry Bunn
Anthony Gerrard (90)