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Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Blackburn Rovers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 18th August 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Town 1-1 Blackburn
Saturday, 18th Aug 2012 17:04

An own goal by Blackburn defender Jason Lowe seven minutes from time saw the Blues to a deserved 1-1 draw in their opening Championship fixture at Portman Road. Jason Scotland had laid Luke Hyam’s pass into the six-yard box for Chopra before the Rovers left-back diverted it home. The visitors had gone in front in the first half via debutant Colin Kazim-Richards.

Town boss Paul Jewell made one change to the side which beat Bristol Rovers in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday with Josh Carson coming in for Scotland, who dropped to the bench. The Blues moved to their 4-2-3-1 formation with Carson, who missed the cup tie as he was away with Northern Ireland, on the left and Lee Martin behind lone striker Michael Chopra.

Loan midfielder Massimo Luongo was making his league debut , while Scott Loach and Luke Chambers were making their league debuts for the Blues. Former England man Danny Murphy was one of four players making their Blackburn debuts, along with Dickson Etuhu, Colin Kazim-Richards, who is on loan from Galatasaray, and former Portugal international Nuno Gomes.

Rovers had a fair amount of the ball in the early stages of a game played in African Nations’ Cup type temperatures, but it was Town who struck the first shot, Josh Carson sending a 25-yarder not far over Paul Robinson’s crossbar in the fourth minute.

After a 10th minute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas corner had been half-cleared, Aaron Cresswell sent in a cross from the left which former England keeper Robinson did well to claim ahead of Tommy Smith.

Kazim-Richards’s deflected 11th minute strike was Blackburn’s first chance of the game, Loach stopping and Chambers clearing. At the other end, the lively Martin just failed to find Chopra with a low ball after getting away down the Blues’ right.

Luongo picked up his first league booking in the 21st minute for a foul on Kazim-Richards on halfway and from the freekick the visitors won a corner from which they opened the scoring.

Morten Gamst Pedersen whipped over a deep ball from the left which flew beyond Tommy Smith and was was nodded back by Scott Dann to Kazim-Richards, who had escaped Carlos Edwards, and headed into the roof of the net from a few feet out. Paul Jewell, who had switched widemen Carson and Emmanuel-Thomas moments earlier, won’t have been pleased to concede yet another set piece goal.

The Blues were having plenty of the ball – although occasionally giving it away all too easily in their own half - but with the visitors now happy to sit back were making little headway. On 29 Martin managed a shot at goal but failed to test Robinson. Soon after, there was danger in the Blackburn area from a corner but no one could get on the end of Chopra’s flick.

Rovers skipper Murphy was booked for a foul on Martin on 35, then four minutes later the Town midfielder won a freekick on the left which he over-hit beyond Smith and Chambers.

A minute later, Carson won another freekick on the right, Cresswell hammering in a low strike from a tight angle which Robinson blocked with Chopra looking to get a touch.

Martin hit a 25-yard shot which Robinson pushed wide as the half moved into two minutes of injury time and from the corner, the ball was cleared to Cresswell, whose cross was diverted over by a diving Martin.

There had been little in it at referee Darren Drysdale signalled the break with Blackburn’s goal having come courtesy of a couple of defensive lapses. Otherwise, the Blues had had most of the ball but with neither side creating much penalty area danger but with Robinson having been the busier of the two keepers. The visitors’ more threatening moments had tended to come from Town errors rather than via their own guile.

The second period began with Emmanuel-Thomas and Carson returning to the flanks on which they had started the game and Dickson Etuhu picking up a booking for a foul on the Northern Irishman 30 yards out. Cresswell flashed the freekick across the face of goal.

Loach impressively saved an Etuhu header from a corner in the 49th minute but referee Drysdale had already blown his whistle for a foul.

There was a scare for the Blues three minutes later when Kazim-Richards got away on the right and chipped on to the roof of the net, Loach having initially started to come off his line to clear.

Town should have been on terms in the 56th minute Carson went on a superb run and took the ball to the edge of the area before hitting a shot which Robinson pushed away. Emmanuel-Thomas looked set to tap home the rebound from eight yards but needlessly decided to take a touch and ran into trouble.

Kazim-Richards had another chance on 58 when put away behind the Blues backline after Chopra was tackled. Fortunately for Town, the former Sheffield United man blazed over.

The home side were continuing to have most of the ball but without anything of note being created, the Lancastrian side happy to sit on their lead.

Martin scuffed through to Robinson on 64 with Chopra looking for a through ball with the Blues not showing too many signs of creating the opportunity from which they could grab an equaliser.

On 66 Scotland took over from the under par Emmanuel-Thomas as Town reverted to 4-4-2, Carson moving to the right and Martin to the left.

Six minutes later, Andy Drury replaced Luongo, who, on what was his league debut, had had his moments but without imposing himself on the game in the manner he had during pre-season or against Bristol Rovers.

Town were close to an equaliser in the 80th minute when Martin whipped in a freekick from the left which Chopra missed and which hit Chambers before bouncing wide. The Blues centre-half appeared to have been unsighted as the ball came to him from behind Chopra.

Loach made his first significant save of the game on 81, diving at David Dunn’s feet after he had been played in by Kazim-Richards.

Town, who had started to up the tempo, got back on terms two minutes later. Hyam dinked a ball over the Rovers backline for Scotland and Chopra, the Trinidadian deftly volleying it across towards his strike partner and Jason Lowe diverting it into his own net from six yards.

The Blues by now were well on top and looking for a winner. On 89, Cresswell curled a freekick into the wall.

As the match moved into four minutes of injury time, Martin was sent away on the left, the midfielder cutting in and hitting a shot which was brilliantly blocked by Gael Givet. Cresswell over-hit a late freekick before referee Drysdale brought the game to a close.

Town were well worth their point and looked by far the most likely winners after the own goal had put them on terms. Scotland made a significant difference when he came on and Hyam put in one of his best displays for Town with his pass for the goal showing greater incisiveness than he is generally credited.

Prior to that, the Blues had struggled to break down a solid and unspectacular Blackburn side who seemed content to sit back on their lead once they had gone in front.

Overall, given the quality of the opposition squad, manager Paul Jewell will probably be happy enough with a point to show from what on paper is one of the trickiest games of the Championship season.

Town: Loach, Edwards, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Hyam, Luongo (Drury 70), Emmanuel-Thomas (Scotland 66), Martin, Carson, Chopra. Unused: Lee-Barrett, Ainsley, Delaney, Stevenson, Drury, Murray.

Blackburn: Robinson, Lowe, Orr, Givet, Dann, Murphy (Jorge 82), Etuhu, Formica (Olsson 72), Pedersen, Gomes (Dunn 72), Kazim-Richards. Unused: Kean, Goodwillie, Hanley, Ribeiro. Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire). Att: 19,117 (Blackburn: 1,062).

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