DJ Campbell’s late goal saw Town to a 2-1 victory over Burnley in Mick McCarthy’s first home game in charge of the Blues. Daryl Murphy got Town’s first home league win in 11 games – the last came back in March – up and running just after the break with a controversial header, but a Danny Higginbotham own goal put the visitors on terms before Campbell’s 87th minute winner.
Central defender Tommy Smith was handed his first start of the Mick McCarthy era in the new Blues boss’s first home game as Town manager.
The New Zealand international went to right-sided centre-half with Luke Chambers moving to right-back, where he often played for Nottingham Forest, with skipper Carlos Edwards moving into midfield.
Guirane N’Daw also returned to the XI with Lee Martin suspended and Andy Drury dropping to the bench. Prior to kick-off, the crowd observed a minute’s silence for Remembrance Sunday.
Town had most of the ball in the opening couple of minutes but on four Burnley midfielder Chris McCann struck game’s first shot wide of Stephen Henderson’s goal from 25 yards.
The Blues had a better chance on six when DJ Campbell was played in on the left of the area and hit a shot which Clarets keeper Lee Grant batted away. The Blues kept the ball and eventually N’Daw’s strike flew over from 30 yards.
Burnley frontman Martin Paterson was played in on the left by Dean Marney in the 12th minute and Henderson came off his line quickly to block from the former Scunthorpe man.
A game which had hardly been a classic briefly came to life on 26 when Campbell exchanged passes with Richie Wellens, the on-loan QPR man breaking into the area and turning a low effort goalwards from 10 yards, forcing Grant to make a sharp save to his left when the ball looked destined for the corner of the net.
Campbell and Murphy interchanged on 36 to put the Irishman through on goal but a linesman’s flag was raised before he scuffed past the post. At the other end, Brian Stock volleyed well over from 25 yards.
Town had enjoyed one or two long spells of possession, as had the visitors, but with neither keeper overly tested.
In the 39th minute the Blues were thwarted by what seemed a harsh decision by referee Mark Brown. Cresswell had crossed from the left, Murphy’s shot had been deflected into the air and keeper Grant dropped the ball, which was bouncing towards the line.
Before Murphy could add the final touch, Mr Brown blew his whistle despite their having been little if any contact with the Town frontman. Jason Shackell had cleared the loose ball but Murphy may well have got on to it had the whistle not been blown.
Ross Wallace shot well wide in the 43rd minute and there was little further action before referee Brown brought what had been a scrappy period to an end.
The half-time scoreline wasn’t unfair, although Town will have felt aggrieved by the referee’s decision to stop play for the apparent infringement on Grant.
Aside from that incident, Campbell and Wellens carved out a decent chance for the Blues that the Clarets’ keeper did well to save, while at the other end Henderson stopped impressively from Paterson. Charlie Austin – scorer of 20 goals in 17 games so far this season – was yet to really threaten.
Six minutes into the second half it was the visitors who were complaining to the referee after Murphy put the Blues in front in an incident not dissimilar to the one in the first half.
Shackell could only loop a cross from the right into the air and Grant seemed to run into the Irish striker, who had his back to goal as he flicked the ball home with the back of his head.
The grounded Grant and his team-mates protested at length to the referee, who consulted with the linesman before confirming that he had awarded the goal, the first the Clarets had conceded since Sean Dyche took over as manager.
Murphy had appeared to stand his ground as Grant looked to punch the ball, but some referees may well have given the decision the other way. Mr Brown may well have had the incident in the first half in his thoughts when he made the call.
McCann shot wide for Burnley just before the hour, then Wallace was booked for an off the ball kick at Cresswell right in front of the linesman as Danny Higginbotham cut out a ball aimed towards the Scottish winger.
On 62 Wellens found Edwards to his right, the skipper having become more involved in the second half, and the Trinidadian brought the ball into the area before opting to try to pass to Campbell to his right rather than shooting himself and Shackell intercepted. Moments later, Nigel Reo-Coker tried to play Campbell in but overhit his pass.
In the 65th minute Burnley swapped Brian Stock and Wallace for Marvin Bartley and Junior Stanislas, the former West Ham cutting in and hitting a shot over soon after being introduced. On 76 the Clarets swapped Marney for Sam Vokes as they went to 4-4-2.
Austin almost found Vokes with a knockdown from a cross from the right on 78, Henderson claiming confidently. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas replaced the evidently tiring Wellens in the 79th minute, the former Arsenal man joining Campbell up front with Murphy moving wide.
The visitors got back on terms in the 80th minute. Stanislas sent in a cross from deep on the left after a freekick had been half-cleared and Higginbotham, under pressure from Vokes, flicked the ball into his own net off the underside of the bar.
The goal, and the manner in which it came, was a bitter pill for the Blues to swallow with the Clarets not having looked particularly threatening
On 81 Reo-Coker was booked for timewasting when he hit a shot after the referee had blown his whistle for an offside. Four minutes later, Paterson was yellow-carded for a foul on Cresswell.
With three minutes remaining, the Blues restored their lead. Emmanuel-Thomas sent Edwards away down the right with a well-weighted pass. The skipper held off Bartley before drifting a cross to Campbell, who deftly sent the ball across keeper Grant and into the net with the outside of his right boot for his fourth goal in seven games for Town.
Two minutes later the on-loan QPR striker made way for Bilel Mohsni to rapturous applause from the home support.
The Blues saw out the final minutes of scheduled time and five additional minutes comfortably before Portman Road erupted, just over seven months after their last home league victory. The players appeared similarly delighted and relieved, some of them winning in front of the Portman Road faithful for the first time.
Overall, it was a gritty performance from the Blues rather than a great one, but that was what was required against a similarly dogged Burnley side. The second goal was a rare moment of quality.
The victory takes Town up to 22nd in the table, two points off Barnsley in 21st although with the Blues having a significantly worse goal difference, but with Mick McCarthy looking to have Town finally moving in the right direction.
Great dogged performance and good to see the defensive adjustments. DJ produced the goods again. Edwards showed what he can bring to the attack. A bit of magic from JET as well. MM averaging 2 points a game...do the maths! Well done MM and the lads.
Well Done. Mick seems to have identified the RB problem. Things will get better with a few blips in between but at long last we can see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnell. 2 saturdays in a row enjoying a beer for a change.
Really good team performance and a Manager that understands ya basic football, knowing that a winger is better as a winger and not a right back. Thought Chambers was better in RB. Really good atmosphere at PR, signs of things to come. MM is a top top bloke and can do no wrong at the mo, if I was a woman i'd have his kids. COYB!!!!
First half, we still looked vulnerable I thought;but N'Daw and Edwards made the difference in the second half ( N'Daw was good throughout ) and we were playing proper football again for much of the game. We are still going to have to grind out results but plenty to look forward to I think - even if/when our loanees depart. Isn't it great to just have a bit of noise and atmosphere around the place again?
Well done "Town". Great commitment today & some crunching tackling getting the crowd up for it. I,ts not going to be pretty but this win shows how organisation & desire can get us out of the mire. Noticed MM was out of the dugout after 30 seconds of the start barking out instructions ALL game. Good to see. COYB.
It's taking the the last 2 managers years to work out where best to play Edwards "" it's taking big mick 2 weeks well done mick top man " think smith looked sound today!! And at last the midfield looked strong today , COYB
great stuff good to see Edwards playing where he belongs Well done the Mick and the Players Wonder if we can do a deal with QPR in Jan for Campbell We need him big time, proper goalscorer Busy Jan window me thinks Happy days
First things first, under Jewell we certainly would have not won this game and probably might have lost it with the equalizer coming 10 minutes or so before time. Next nice to see Edwards in the position we have all advocated for some time, why can't Jewell have seen this? Mick looks like he has given us some steely resolve although hammered by Palace 2 wins out of 3 we would have grabbed at a few weeks ago. Only negative point is where was Hyam in the squad? is he injured again? Other than that congratulations to the lads and Mick, first win at home for yonks (Mick's first game in charge at home) and first win in charge last weekend. Keep it up, the more wins we'll get will see a renewed confidence in the coming weeks.
Obvious to all fans of ITFC - Square Pegs + Round holes doesn't work. MM has changed the formation and played Carlos Edwards in his rightful posotion and caused mayhem second half and made the winner. Mnay still moaning about Tommy Smith but for me he showed pace and desire and had a sound game. Chambers very poor first half. Henderson sees his future at West Ham so send him back cos he'll never be a Premiership Keeper. On the other hand DJ Campbell knows how to score and we should seek to secure his services. N'Daw excellent today and tactics a vast improvement with the team attacking instead of sitting on a lead. Well done MM and ITFC