|Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Bristol City|
Saturday, 22nd December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Town 1-1 Bristol City
Saturday, 22nd Dec 2012 17:11
Tommy Smith’s second goal of the season saw Town to a scrappy 1-1 home draw against Bristol City at Portman Road. The Robins went in front via Neil Danns in the 11th minute and might have been further in front before Smith equalised on 32, the Blues having a couple of chances to win it late on.
Boss Mick McCarthy named an unchanged side but with midfielder Luke Hyam returning to the bench having been out for a month with a calf injury and then a bout of illness. Former Blue Jon Stead started for the visitors, who lined up 5-4-1.
The first chance of the game, played in very slippery conditions after heavy rain, fell to Stead in the fifth minute. City left-back Greg Cunningham crossed but the ex-Town man missed the ball completely. Soon after, Paul Anderson’s shot was blocked with the visiting players claiming, somewhat hopefully, that the ball had been handled.
The Robins had looked the more threatening side in the opening minutes but on eight the Blues came close after a corner on the right. The ball wouldn’t fall for Guirane N’Daw on the edge of the box but eventually it was played back in by Tommy Smith but squirmed away from Luke Chambers just inside the area.
Soon after, Daryl Murphy was flagged offside from Lee Martin’s clever lob over the Bristol City backline with DJ Campbell chasing the same ball and probably onside.
The visitors went ahead on 11 when Aaron Cresswell cleared the ball against Chambers on the edge of the box and it fell kindly to one-time Colchester man Danns, who smashed a shot past former Robin Stephen Henderson and into the net. It was a very poor goal to concede from Town’s perspective.
The Blues weren’t far from getting back on terms on 17 when Murphy knocked down a high ball towards Campbell, who forced Robins keeper Tom Heaton to block. The Blues frontman got to the rebound but was again thwarted by the ex-Cardiff man.
Stead shot low to Henderson’s left in the 20th minute, then the Robins took advantage of more poor Town defending, Danns turning Richard Foster’s cross from the right goalwards, the ball rather fortunately striking Orr on the edge of the six-yard box.
At the other end, Martin curled the ball over from the left in the 24th minute but the visitors were still looking the more dangerous side with the Blues were struggling to settle into the damp conditions.
The Robins threatened again in the 26th minute but Albert Adomah lashed wildly high and wide from the right when Danns amongst other was well placed in the centre. For the Blues, Campbell flicked Martin’s cross from deep on the left over.
The Blues could well have been two or even three goals down but in the 32nd minute they got back on terms. Martin sent in a corner from the right, Chambers headed it down and Smith hooked home his second goal of the season.
The goal gave the Blues a boost and N’Daw’s deflected 30-yard strike – the second of two attempts – was saved by Heaton. For the Robins, Anderson hit a shot from the edge of the box which Henderson saved but couldn’t hold, Stead subsequently stabbing the rebound rather embarrassingly wide but when offside.
Edwards shot wide when he ought to have done better, then at the other end Chambers got an important touch on a ball over the top for Stead to see it safely through to Henderson.
Moments before the whistle, Stead found himself space for a shot from just outside the box but Henderson saved down to his left.
Town were a touch fortunate to find themselves on terms at the break. The visitors had been the better side for the most part with the Blues looking shaky at the back, having not dealt with the soggy conditions particularly well.
The home side might well have been two or even three goals in front by the time Smith scored his equaliser, with Campbell’s earlier effort which forced the excellent double save from Heaton was Town’s only other notable effort on goal.
The Blues had improved after getting back on terms but were still some way from dominant in what had been a largely scrappy half with the conditions not helpful.
Stead forced Henderson to save in the opening minute of the second period, then at the other end Murphy screwed a shot wide with Heaton momentarily out of his goal having come for a cross.
Danns shot wide on 53, then moments later Cunningham failed to hit the target by some distance with an effort from the right after a short corner.
Two minutes later, N’Daw sent Martin away down the left, a Bristol City boot just getting in ahead of Murphy. After the resultant corner had been forced away for a throw on the right, Murphy headed wide.
Michael Chopra took over from Campbell two minutes before the hour mark, then for the visitors Anderson took the ball past the advancing Henderson but wide on the right, the Blues keeper blocking his cross.
Cunningham headed wide from a Danns cross from the right with the game continuing in the scrappy manner of the first half with neither side really on top.
Drury shot over from 30 yards, then Jay Emmanuel-Thomas replaced Murphy, who had appeared to suffer a knock a few minutes earlier.
On 78 Emmanuel-Thomas shot wide with the Blues looking the more likely scorers in an attritional game of little quality.
Town’s two subs combined in the 80th minute, Emmanuel-Thomas finding Chopra in the area, the striker skipping away from his defender and hitting a shot which Heaton saved well.
Both sides continued to huff and puff as the game moved into four minutes of injury time in which Town ought to have won it. Drury cut the ball back from the right to Martin, but the former Manchester United man’s weak shot at goal was blocked when he should have scored.
With time running out, Drury made a driving run from deep to the edge of the area where he was felled but the one-time Luton man wasted the freekick, volleying Martin’s flick-up wide.
A draw was probably the right result from a scruffy game which neither team particularly deserved to win.
The visitors, who will be happier with the result, had the better of the first half, while Town were probably the more dangerous side in the second and had chances to win it late on.
Manager Mick McCarthy will be disappointed that the Christmas run of fixtures didn’t begin with a win, but will at least be pleased that his unbeaten home record as Town boss remains unbroken.
The result leaves the Blues in 20th but now only three points from the relegation places with Peterborough, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley all winning.
Town: Henderson, Orr, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N'Daw, Drury, Martin, Campbell (Chopra 58), Murphy (Emmanuel-Thomas 72). Subs: Loach, Hewitt, Higginbotham, Hyam, Reo-Coker.
Bristol City: Heaton, Foster, Bates, McManus, Fontaine, Cunningham, Adomah, Danns, Skuse (Elliott 84), Anderson (Baldock 84), Stead. Subs: Gerken, M Wilson, Bryan, Kilkenny, Davies. Referee Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire). Att: 17,290 (Bristol City: 240).
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