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Town 2-0 Scunthorpe
Town 2-0 Scunthorpe
Saturday, 19th Mar 2011 17:06

A superb 30-yard Carlos Edwards strike in the first half and a similarly brilliant Jimmy Bullard freekick in the second saw the Blues to a 2-0 victory over League One-destined Scunthorpe at Portman Road. Town never looked in any danger against an Iron side every bit as poor as their position in the table.

Boss Paul Jewell handed 17-year-old Josh Carson his debut on the left of a five-man midfield, the Northern Ireland U21 international having been on the bench at Exeter earlier in the season.

Arran Lee-Barrett came into the side in goal for the first time under Jewell’s management, as reported by TWTD this morning.

Skipper David Norris is also back, while Colin Healy is on the bench having returned from his stomach muscle injury, but Kieron Dyer is missing from the 18, with rumours yesterday suggesting that the loanee from West Ham is injured. Márton Fülöp, Jason Scotland and Tamás Priskin all dropped to the bench with Connor Wickham starting in the lone striking role.

Town almost went ahead in the opening minute. Wickham sent a cross in from the left with no Blues player in the area but a weak backpass let in Lee Martin, but the midfielder sent the ball across the face too far in front of Carson and Iron skipper Michael Nelson cleared.

Three minutes later, Town had another chance when Wickham sent Norris away but the Blues’ skipper’s shot was too close to Scunthorpe keeper Josh Lillis.

On six, after a strong Norris run, Martin found Bullard and his edge of the area shot deflected wide of Lillis’s right post.

The Blues had started on the front foot and on eight new boy Carson hit a weak effort to Lillis, then at the other end the Iron managed their first attack, Ben Gordon sending the ball harmlessly across the face of Arran Lee-Barrett’s goal.

Midfielder Grant Leadbitter got his name in referee David Webb’s book in the 12th minute for a foul on Scunthorpe striker Lee Miller on halfway.

Two minutes later, Bullard sent in a freekick from the right but the ball skimmed off Wickham’s head and flew well wide.

On 17 Michael O’Connor forced Lee-Barrett into his first save of the game with a freekick from 25 yards, the keeper pushing the ball away from goal to his left.

Wickham went close to heading home a Martin cross from the right in the 19th minute but overall the game had become scrappy with the Blues having been unable to play much flowing football.

Nevertheless, Town went in front in the 26th minute, via a trademark Carlos Edwards thunderbolt. The Trinidadian picked up a loose ball on halfway and brought it forward before hammering a 30-yard piledriver which gave Lillis no chance. It was the 32-year-old’s fourth goal of the season.

Gareth McAuley might have added to Town’s lead on the half hour when he volleyed Bullard’s corner from the right over the bar when he probably should have hit the target.

On 38 diminutive debutant Carson came close to scoring when he rose at the far post to head Edwards’s cross from the right just over the bar.

In injury time, Martin scuffed a shot wide for the Blues, then O’Connor struck Scunthorpe’s first effort from open play through to Lee-Barrett but without testing him.

Town had been on top throughout the half but without ever playing particularly well against an Iron side looking every bit the relegation strugglers they are.

Edwards’s solo strike was the high point of a largely scrappy half. Debut-making midfielder Josh Carson had been isolated out on the left flank for spells but had made one or two encouraging runs down the left.

Town winger Lee Martin picked up a yellow card in the second half’s first serious action when a Blues penalty might been the more correct decision. The former Manchester United man broke into the area having cut inside from the right and appeared to have his heels clipped by O’Connor.

Despite Martin’s protestations, referee Webb booked the midfielder and awarded the visitors a freekick rather than giving the Blues a spotkick. The caution was Martin’s 10th of the season, meaning he’ll miss Town’s next two games.

On 52 O’Connor was booked for a foul on Norris 10 yards outside the Scunthorpe box and from the resultant freekick, Jimmy Bullard increased Town’s lead. The loanee from Hull curled the ball to Lillis’s right and into the net for his fourth goal for the Blues.

Just after the hour, Bullard unleashed another strike from a similar distance but the ball flew just wide of Lillis’s right post.

Scunthorpe’s first threat of the half was an over-hit Andy Hughes freekick from deep on 62 which Lee-Barrett carefully watched clear his crossbar. A minute later, Norris was unable to get over a bouncing ball 20 yards out and his shot flew well into the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

Andy Drury replaced Carson in the 71st minute, the Northern Irish youngster, who had switched flanks with Martin for much of the second half, having shown glimpses of his ability but without really being given enough of the ball to impose himself on the game.

A minute later, the Blues’ other man from Northern Ireland, Gareth McAuley was yellow-carded for a foul inside the centre circle as Scunthorpe broke.

The visitors were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute when the already-booked O’Connor left Drury in a heap, referee Webb, who was somewhat inconsistent with his carding all afternoon, instead deciding to give the midfielder a lengthy talking to.

As the game moved into its final three minutes, Nelson flicked a header well wide from a Scunthorpe corner, then Colin Healy replaced Leadbitter in the Town midfield.

The Town support ‘oled’ the Blues’ passing in injury time before a Lee-Barrett flap at a cross led to little danger and moments later referee David Webb brought an understated afternoon to an end.

The Blues were always comfortable against a dreadful Scunthorpe side, but even so didn’t dominate in the manner that they should have and failed to significantly test Iron keeper Josh Lillis, aside from the two marvellously taken goals.

Keeper Lee-Barrett couldn't have hoped for a quieter afternoon on his return and did nothing wrong until the late fumbled cross.

Debutant Carson was busy up and down the left flank and had one or two good moments, particularly his first half header, but too often was left isolated out on the left. However, with Martin suspended, the Northern Irishman may well get further opportunities in the weeks to come.

Although they had lots of the ball, Town never reached the heights of the first half performance against Portsmouth and clear-cut chances were a rarity.

Despite the unconvincing overall performance, the victory puts the Blues 14 points clear of the relegation zone with eight games to play, surely now confirming their Championship status for next season, which was Paul Jewell’s first task after taking over at Portman Road.

Town: Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Kennedy, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter (Healy 87), Carson (Drury 71), Norris (c), Wickham, Martin, Bullard. Unused: Fülöp, Peters, Scotland, Priskin, O'Dea.

Scunthorpe: Lillis, Gordon (Grant 57), O'Connor, Nelson (c), Mirfin, J Wright, Hughes, Nolan, Duffy (Collins 63), Miller (Dagnall 83, Garner. Unused: Slocombe, Togwell, Raynes, Reid. Referee: David Webb. Att: 17,787 (Scunthorpe: 165).

Photo: Action Images

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