|Ipswich Town 0 v 3 Sheffield Wednesday|
Saturday, 27th October 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Town 0-3 Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday, 27th Oct 2012 17:02
The size of the task facing whoever takes over at Town was made all too evident as Sheffield Wednesday left Portman Road having run out 3-0 winners. The Owls, previously without a win in 10 games, went in front in the first minute through Ross Barkley, the on-loan Everton man adding the second just before the hour mark, before Michail Antonio added the third late on.
Town caretaker-boss Chris Hutchings made three changes for his first and possibly only game in charge of the Blues. Josh Carson, Luke Hyam and Daryl Murphy returned with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Nigel Reo-Coker and Andy Drury dropping to the bench.
Despite the change of personnel, Hutchings employed the usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Murphy wide on the left. Carson on the right and Martin behind lone strike DJ Campbell.
Town were behind within a minute of the start. The Blues failed to clear a throw from the right, Antonio’s cross was poorly cleared by Hyam, Lewis Buxton hit a low shot which was blocked by Hyam, the ball deflecting out to Barkley just outside the area from where he hit a low shot through a crowd of players and past Stephen Henderson.
The Blues looked all over the place in the early stages and Antonio should have put his side 2-0 in front in the fourth minute when sent away after an error by skipper Carlos Edwards, but shot weakly and Henderson saved.
Town’s first chance came in the 10th minute, Martin cutting the ball back to the on-rushing Hyam who scuffed well wide from the edge of the area.
Wednesday went close again on 14 when referee Roger East prevented Hyam from receiving a pass, which allowed Barkley to break. The 18-year-old midfielder found Antonio, who cut in and hit a shot across goal.
Two minutes later, Danny Higginbotham was forced to clear off the line after Henderson had only succeeded in finding Antonio out on the left with his punch. The ball was looped back in to Anthony Gardner, who headed towards the keeper-less net, only for Higginbotham to intervene.
Town gradually started to settle after their very jittery start. On 24 Richie Wellens laid the ball off to Martin on the edge of the area after good work from Edwards, but the midfielder’s shot was blocked by Gardner.
A minute later, Jose Semedo was booked for a foul on Martin just outside the area on the right. Cresswell curled the freekick just over the bar with the Blues improving. Moments later, the left-back went somewhat less close with another set piece from a similar position after Carson had been blocked by Daniel Jones.
Wednesday weren’t far from a second on the half hour, an unmarked Chris O’Grady heading Jones’s cross from the left well over when he should have done better.
Higginbotham shot wide after a freekick just outside the box on the right was laid off to him by Cresswell in the 36th minute, then on 41 Antonio shot wide for the Owls.
As what had been a generally scrappy half drew towards a close, Higginbotham headed wide, then Carson cut in from the right but failed to significantly test Chris Kirkland in the Owls goal.
The visitors deserved their lead at the break with Town still to really threaten, while Henderson had been the busier of the two keepers.
After the nightmare start when the Blues were made to pay for failing to clear their lines, they took a while to get into the game and could have been further behind in the early stages. As the half wore on they began to get more of a grip on the match but without ever looking like getting on terms.
Caretaker-boss Hutchings and coach Mark Kennedy continued a loud dialogue with their players throughout from the technical area.
Goalscorer Barkley hit the second half’s first shot just wide in the 51st minute, then at the other end Campbell scuffed a weak effort on the turn to Kirkland.
A minute before the hour mark Barkley made it 2-0 to the visitors. Antonio headed a ball forward down on the edge of the area and the England U21 international took a touch before hitting a powerful half-volley beyond Henderson and into the net, sending the 1,410 travelling fans wild.
Michael Chopra replaced the underwhelming Daryl Murphy on 61 as the Blues went to 4-4-2, before Antonio hit a low shot which Henderson claimed comfortably.
Jay Bothroyd was booked for pulling back Chopra, then a couple of minutes later Martin joined him in the book for a foul on Jones.
Town were looking very much a bottom-of-the-table confidence-bereft side but on 70 Campbell almost found Wellens as he broke into the box but a defender’s toe intervened.
The Blues’ misery was made complete in the 81st minute when Wednesday made it 3-0. Antonio was played in on goal by O’Grady, took the ball round Henderson and tapped into the empty net. The goal signalled chants of ‘What a load of rubbish’ and ‘Clegg out’ from the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Antonio had a chance to make it 4-0 soon afterwards after a strong run by Bothroyd but the former Reading man curled the ball wide. Soon after, Bilel Mohsni took over from the disappointing Campbell.
It had been a very comfortable second half from Wednesday’s perspective, already-well-beaten Town allowing them to stroke the ball unchallenged with the Blues midfield outclassed and out-passed by their Owls counterparts.
Subs Chopra and Mohsni both shot high and wide before Luke Chambers picked up a yellow card for a foul on Bothroyd.
Referee East brought the most lacklustre of Town performances to a close, triggering the next round of boos and shouts of ‘Clegg out’.
The game after Roy Keane’s exit saw the Blues lose 7-0 at Chelsea in the FA Cup and this display was no less poor, certainly the worst of the season so far.
The early goal was the worst thing which could have happened to a side lacking in confidence and but for some poor Wednesday finishing, the scoreline could well have been worse before the break with the game going on around the inexperienced and unfit-looking midfield.
Once the excellent Barkley’s second goal had gone in Wednesday largely played keep-ball before Antonio added the third.
Chris Hutchings almost certainly had no chance of taking over long-term before today’s performance, but the result and the display will have extinguished any hopes he might have had.
Town: Henderson, Edwards, Chambers, Higginbotham, Cresswell, Carson (Emmanuel-Thomas 78), Wellens, Hyam, Martin, Murphy (Chopra 60), Campbell (Mohnsi 84). Unused: Loach, Smith, Drury, Reo-Coker.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Jones, Buxton, Gardner, Semedo, Antonio, O’Grady, Corry (Johnson 73), Bothroyd, Barkley, Llera. Unused: Davies, Taylor, Madine, Mattock, Rodri, Pecnik. Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire). Att: 17,738 (Wednesday: 1,410).
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