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Norwich City 3-1 Town (4-2 on Aggregate)
Saturday, 16th May 2015 14:31

Town will play Championship football once again in 2015/16 after they were defeated 3-1 by Norwich City in the second leg of their play-off semi-final second leg, having been reduced to 10 men when Christophe Berra was red-carded just after half-time. With first game having ended 1-1 at Portman Road, the tie was turned in the 48th minute when Berra handled Nathan Redmond’s goalbound shot and was dismissed. Hoolahan scored from the spot, Smith equalised for the Blues soon after but goals from Redmond and Cameron Jerome sealed the place at Wembley for the Canaries.

Paul Anderson replaced the injured Luke Varney in an otherwise unchanged Town side, the on-loan Blackburn man having suffered a ruptured achilles in last week’s match. David McGoldrick is again a sub.

Norwich also made one expected change with Wes Hoolahan replacing Graham Dorrans, who drops to the bench.

While the home crowd did their best to emulate the Portman Road atmosphere from last week, the Blues started brightly and created the game’s first chance in the third minute, 27-goal Championship top scorer Daryl Murphy nodding Kevin Bru’s freekick from the right over when he will feel he might have done better.

Town continued to have most of the early possession and on six Anderson crossed from the left but too close to Canaries keeper John Ruddy.

The home side began to see more of the ball and on 11, after a controversially awarded corner on the right, Steven Whittaker curled a 25-yard strike well wide of Bartosz Bialkowski’s goal.

On 13 Murphy seized on a moment of hesitancy from Canaries centre-half Sebastien Bassong on the right and crossed from the byline but too near to Ruddy, who claimed. A minute later, Bru scraped well wide from 25 yards.

First leg goalscorer Anderson was a Town hero again in the 17th minute when, following a corner on the right, the winger blocked Norwich skipper Russell Martin’s low shot from the edge of the box on the line with Bialkowski beaten.

But the expected early Canary pressure had largely failed to materialise with the Blues continuing to have the better of it.

On 20 Teddy Bishop claimed a penalty when skipping past Nathan Redmond as he brought a half-cleared corner back into the box but referee Roger East wasn’t interested. Video replays suggested the Town midfielder may have had a case.

As the clock turned to 21 the Blues support burst into applause in tribute to fan Chris Reynolds, who died aged 21 last month.

On the half hour, with the Blues still on top, Canaries midfielder Bradley Johnson picked up the game’s first yellow card for clattering Bru from behind.

The now-recovered Bru struck another effort from distance on 37 but this time high and wide, Anderson’s harrying having won the ball back deep in the Norwich half.

As in the first leg Cameron Jerome was proving Norwich’s greatest threat and on 41 the former Cardiff man flicked a header which sent Hoolahan away on the left. The Irishman squared to Jonny Howson breaking on the right, but his shot struck Tyrone Mings. Moments later, Johnson wasted a freekick, shooting well over when trying to catch Bialkowski unawares.

Norwich had a brief spell of pressure as the game moved towards injury time but without creating anything significant and the half ended goalless.

Town boss Mick McCarthy will have been the happier manager at the break, the Blues having started strongly and quietened the home support fairly quickly. Despite having threatened once or twice, Norwich had never really got into their stride.

But, while Murphy might have done better with his early header and Bishop may believe he should have won a penalty, the best chance of the first half was Martin’s strike which Anderson cleared off the line. After 135 minutes of football the tie was still anybody’s.

Norwich threatened within seconds of the restart, Howson cut on from the right and played the ball into Jerome, who had his back to goal and went to ground under pressure from Tommy Smith. The loose ball was played out to Martin Olsson on the left but his shot was blocked and Bru cleared.

Town immediately broke through Sears but the former Colchester United man shot into the side-netting.

Four minutes into the second half, Town were struck by a huge double blow. Mings inadvertently fed Hoolahan down the centre, who found Redmond breaking into the area in space on the left. The former Birmingham man drew Bialkowski before hitting a goalbound effort which Berra, who had taken up a position on the line, stopped with his left arm.

Referee East pointed straight to the spot and showed Berra Town’s first red card of the season. The Scotland international had little complaint as he made his way to the tunnel.

Hoolahan took the spotkick and hit the ball to Bialkowski’s right with the keeper diving in the opposite direction to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-1 on aggregate.

Skipper Chambers moved to centre-half and Anderson to right-back as the 10-man Blues reorganised as they looked to get their Wembley dream back on track.

And on right on the hour, Town levelled. Bishop sent over a freekick from the left, Murphy headed down towards goal and Smith skipped in to take the ball past Ruddy before scuffing into the net right-footed from a matter of inches.

The former academy player was mobbed by his team-mates before running to celebrate with the ecstatic Blues support.

But parity was to last only four minutes. Bialkowski saved Olsson’s shot from the left, the loose ball eventually reaching Howson, who fed Redmond to his right and the England U21 international smashed a low shot under the Blues keeper and into the net to restore the Canaries’ lead.

Given their numerical advantage it was no surprise that the home side were by now dominating possession and on 70 they came close to increasing their lead when Howson crossed from the right and Jerome somehow managed to turn it across the face of goal when it seemed easier to score.

The Blues switched Bishop and Bru for Jay Tabb and David McGoldrick as they sought to get themselves on terms for a second time. Three minutes after coming on McGoldrick cleverly fed Mings on the left but the left-back overran the ball.

But the result was all but sealed in the 77th minute when Jerome was played in on goal by Redmond and touched the ball past the advancing Bialkowski and into the net to make it 3-1 on the day and 4-2 on aggregate. There would be no way back for the 10 men from here.

Redmond should have made it four on 80 when Howson him in on goal but he dallied and Mings got back to stab the ball away from him for a corner.

Anderson was replaced by Noel Hunt for the final seven minutes, while Gary Hooper took over from Jerome for the Canaries.

Town continued to look for a way back into the game, Chambers fed in Sears but Bassong stabbed the ball away from the Blues striker.

In injury time McGoldrick scuffed wide, then Skuse was booked for a foul before the game briefly threatened to boil over following a clash between Smith and Redmond but the referee restored order.

Soon after, referee east blew the final whistle to confirm Norwich’s place in the final against Middlesbrough and Town’s 14th successive Championship season.

The Blues can hold their heads high after a typically resilient performance in very touch circumstances.

Having shaded the first half, the match was turned by the penalty incident with Berra seemingly sticking out an instinctive arm to keep the shot out.

The Blues showed their usual resolve to get back into the match but in the end the additional player made the difference and the Canaries took two of their opportunities.

While the defeat to the Canaries is a hugely disappointing way to end the campaign, overall the season has matched the pre-season target of reaching the play-offs, however, that will come as little consolation so soon after the final whistle consigned the Blues to yet another play-off semi-final defeat.

Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson, Redmond, Howson, Tettey, Johnson (E Bennett 87), Hoolahan (Dorrans 74), Jerome (Hooper 84). Unused: Rudd, Josh Murphy, R Bennett, O'Neil.

Ipswich: Bialkowski, Chambers, Mings, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Bru (Tabb 71), Bishop (McGoldrick 71), Anderson (N Hunt 84), Sears, Murphy. Unused: Gerken, Parr, S Hunt, Clarke. Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire). Att: 26,994.

Photo: Action Images

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BlueandTruesince82 added 15:45 - May 16
Gutted. Good season. So close to being real contenders. Mins to be sold for between 7 and 10 million and Parr at left back, Connoly flying up the right wing and investment to secure same on the left plus a creative spark in the middle. Sears top scorer next season.

Lord_Mac added 15:47 - May 16
Not the time for it, but I wish people would stop banging on about Evans investing. We spend more money on wages, not much on fees, but it's still investment. And if he spent more, we'd get a transfer embargo, like several clubs have, so he can't even if he wanted to.

Blue041273 added 15:48 - May 16
Proud of the performance today. Proud too of our fabulous fans whose support during the first half particularly put the Norwich support to shame. Sadly some on here, perhaps through frustration or despair, see fit to start the blame game. Players make mistakes; some can be costly, others not. This is not the time for pointing fingers. Everyone did their bit today. It might feel like failure now but no-one can deny that we have enjoyed our best season in a decade and that the signs for more successful seasons ahead are good.

COYB. Keep the faith and enjoy the Summer!

cobsterblue added 15:49 - May 16
So proud of the boys for giving us a great season. I can say I am immensely proud of the team management and to say I support itfc. We will stick together and go again next season. Coyb

TimmyH added 15:53 - May 16
Notice one or two are coming up with the excuses that Norwich wouldn't have beaten us if Berra wasn't sent off but the fact is you can't keep coming up with them (excuses) when we've failed to beat them this season. In my view in ALL 4 games we weren't better than them and the best of these in which we've played has been merely a case of 'stopping them play' rather than applying any concerted pressure for any length of time.

We haven't been good enough since the New Year but not taking anything away from the small budget that Mick and Terry has worked with so all in all had a good season.

cats_whiskers added 15:53 - May 16
I thought Anderson had a very good game and worked his socks off.
Mings seem to switch off at times as he reacts too late in critical areas
Bru didn't have enough vision and looked lightweight for this critical match and Stephen Hunt should have come on instead of Tabb, who's mistake contributed to their third goal.

With not having any midfielders capable of getting in a shot on goal it's time we get a couple who can actually do that this summer.
It will be interesting to see the retained list now we will be in this division next season.
I do have my doubts that Ambrose will be retained or the Hunt brothers either, they aren't or can be the future, neither is Tabb? so McCarthy needs to be bringing in some much younger hungrier types.

gobs93 added 16:08 - May 16
Proud to be an ipswich fan. Outplayed them first half and deserved so much more than we got. A fantastic season, definitely looking forward to next year!

StowTractorBoy added 16:26 - May 16
Romford Blue how can you possibly blame the owner - would you make that comment had we won - no. Football is a game of fine margins and today was no exception and to blame Evans is ridiculous. The bloke has poured millions into the Club not just into players and their wages but into the academy which costs big bucks. Big money players does not necessarily bring success and this bunch we have with their fantastic spirit brought us to the brink. We just need to tweak it a bit next season with some pace on the flanks and a right back. Oh and my favourite subject we need a top class goalkeeper as neither Bart nor Gerks are good enough. Finally well done MM and TC you have vastly over achieved this season and why people are talking about the Manager leaving is beyond me when he recently signed an extension to his contract. Like many others on here I say good luck Boro at Wembley as the thought of the scum getting another £130 million quid is not one I can swallow easily.

tractorboybig added 16:37 - May 16
to be honest we never looked like winning either leg.
I fear for the future without a large intake of personel.

MrDiddle added 16:47 - May 16
What a fantastic season for Town. Absolutely no shame in defeat - we outplayed them in the first half, second half they made Berra's sending off work to their advantage. Congratulations to Norwich, although sincerely hope Boro show them how it's done next monday!

Well done to Mick, TC, Marcus Evans and the rest of the team and all the backroom staff for turning ITFC round from being surefire relegation fodder to a proper team of battlers and hard workers. Couldn't be more proud right now (If not a little gutted).

Lets hope Mick can keep the nucleus of this great team together so we can steamroll the championship next season. What a team!

Up the town!!!

bluefeast added 16:50 - May 16
Bru is creative Bishop is creative ,width in terms of pace needed , a right back needed. I do wonder though if we will sell a few. Tabb Hunt and Anderson i suspect will be released ,but Anderson in my opinion is a decent member of a 24 person squad ,Tabb is nowhere near that , neither is Hunt. So we shall see. 433 may well be our shape next season ,Skuse Bru Bish McG ,Sears Murphy ,especially away from home ,front 2 are better in a 442 otherwise to isolated. COYB lets hope we also keep Mick as I'm sure there will be other teams wanting such a balanced experienced manager

Alxn629 added 16:53 - May 16
Great season in which the players & fans have done ITFC proud.Onwards & upwards for next season.

Morgan added 17:05 - May 16
When people asked me in the pub what I wanted from the game all I said was for
My pride to be restored. I'm gutted to lose but I'm satisfied it has been.

Thanks Mick, Luke and all the lads for the best season in years. We will be back.

head1970 added 17:15 - May 16
Just like to thank MM and TC for the work they have put in over the season but in all honesty didn't really want MM leading us in the premiership with his style of play. Time to call it a day and get Warburton in with a 21st century football approach .

blueboy1981 added 17:18 - May 16
........ head1970 - can't say I disagree with you - but Warburton is already fixed up, rest assured. But not with us.

jert16 added 17:25 - May 16
And other times he looks 1000 times that! Stop being bitter and be proud of your team. The boys gave it their all, we can't ask for more than that!

Lizzie68 added 17:26 - May 16
I'm so proud of the whole squad this season. Couldn't of asked for more passion or commitment. Roll on August. COYB #stillbelieve :)

warwickblue added 17:26 - May 16
Well, I have the small consolation of being married to a Middlesbrough lass for 35 years - so I will gain some satisfaction from watching Boro play the Budgies off the Wembley turf on May 25th. Well done to all at ITFC this season. It has been the most enjoyable one for years. Can't wait for August - but not wading through the ten thousand or so transfer rumours before the first game...Cheers everyone! Have a good summer!

warwickblue added 17:29 - May 16
Oh and wasn't it good to see McGoldrick back

Elizabeth added 17:31 - May 16
Why is Tyrone all of a sudden the scapegoat .. Idiotic comments !! He thwarted two goal scoring chances for them . Some people always have to pick on someone ..

ShropshireBluenago09 added 17:44 - May 16
Wasn't expecting us to go at Norwich like we did and outplayed them for 50mins. The pen changed the game. Shame for Berra as he was having a stormer. I think we would have got a draw had he stayed on, but no blame to him. No one deserves criticism today, best ive seen us play since BORO at home.
We will do well next season if we keep this team together.

Lukeybluey added 17:56 - May 16
Excellent effort and determination today, we almost had them. So proud of this team. Need to regroup over the summer and add 1 or two quality players to the squad. I'm excited for next season! We are progressing in the right direction.

warktheline added 17:58 - May 16
.....on MINGS, the lad is young, and in his first full season as a pro in Championship, therefore consideration is required, but that said, has does have a lot to learn, and as for reaching his potential, maybe he has, time will tell. We've all seen players come and go quickly! Hopefully this won't be the case with Mings!

offtonblue added 18:06 - May 16
A great season one which nobody really expected. Shame about the result today but failing to win at PR was a critical factor. Over both games only 5 shots on target speaks for itself. Still looking forward we have a desperate need for a couple quality players preferably with some Premier League experience and not J Williams on loan. Well done and thanks to MM and TC all the players and staff. Have a nice rest and come back refreshed and please work out a plan B

algarvefan added 18:11 - May 16
Dear Mick,

Thank you for giving us back a team we can be proud of, it's been a while, but this season on bugger all money you have assembled a 'team' with immense heart and spirit who have performed. Keep up the good work I'm sure there will be a few changes but already looking forward to next season. Thanks Again

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