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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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bozmanblue added 08:06 - May 17
ID LIKE Mings to stay, he does make serious errors in high profile matches but he's young, I think he's played too many games and maybe should have been rested at times. However we don't have that sort of strength in the squad. Smith is awful he is so inconsistent it's really concerning, he's a great willing servant but time to move along. Parr at RB Chambers in at CH for Smith , I wouldn't be averse to Ambrose sticking around and seeing him play more games. We aren't going to see many coming in but we we wil see players going out. It's going to be double hard next season but bring it on..
Roll on August........COYB

50yearsablue added 08:19 - May 17
Among the usual sensible,and predictably nonsensical, comments from the usual suspects, gino88 sums up the situation perfectly. Clearly we are not the finished article but are moving in the right direction and we could be more creative next season with Bishop and Bru and McGoldrick playing off the front 2. Of course we need to sort the RB position and, more importantly, GK as, in my opinion, Bart could have done better with the last 2 goals. The 'investment' is not missing, it goes on salaries. Most of our best players this season have been out of contract frees and whoever MM gets in will have to fit in with the team ethic as the 'team' has been greater than the sum of the parts.

battyblue added 09:08 - May 17
On Reflection how many can say honestly that they believed we could win promotion with the team and squad we have, yes a great bunch of players who would run through brick walls for the cause/manager but we are and have been all season trying to make work-rate compromise the skill we are lacking in some departments and in the end it clearly doesn't

Yesterday i was worried we would get overrun but at halftime actually felt at ease and thought maybe we could do it but when Norrrrrich stepped it up we could not match them for composure and skill on the ball we need a Tomlin type player in midfield perhaps Mcgoldrick would fill this role i don't know ,We also need to change our style of play yesterday first 45 we bossed possession but with no end product one shot on target in ninety odd minutes do not win matches that offten but thats MM style of play will it change? i doubt it but huge respect for where he and tc has taken us but i cant see much changing for next season in team or management style but we can all hope .

AndyRays added 09:19 - May 17
It will hurt for a while but I think most town fans are quite philosophical about it and recognise the superb job MM & TC have done. We may not play the most attractive game but This season has been far more exciting. My son & I watched the opening game v Fulham in a bar in Turkey - seems a lifetime ago!

No reason why we should not be up there again next season. Nothing to fear from the teams coming down or coming up and everyone else will be much the same, we know what the Ch'ship is like. Reading will improve I would think, probably Forest to. MK Dons could be this season's Brentford.

I think most of the key squad will remain. I'm not sure Mings & Bishop will be going anywhere though could be wrong. Few additions & we can challenge again. I wonder if Berra might attract some interest though.

I admire Luke Chambers but we do need a proper right back and a bit of pace in midfield would help.

They will chirp away up the road but I think Boro can win the final. There will be Derby games again next season!!


Slambo added 09:47 - May 17
Glad to see such stoic and measured comments on here lads! Fine body of supporters we are...

Onwards and upwards for next season. We were on Sky TWELVE times this season, BBC once and made the playoffs - we actually probably made a fair few quid! Get a couple of top drawer midfielders in and we'll be ok. My only concern is that we get off to a slow start, we're mid table in November and people start getting on Mick's back...

I have to finish by saying that was the most pathetic pitch invasion I've ever seen. Embarrassing...

midastouch added 10:06 - May 17
i live in the backyard of norwich and it's hell here for me! all week in the build up to yesterday's game i had bumped into numerous norwich fans, they were all so confident how easily they were going to win, none of them looked in the least bit nervous, apart from just 1 who confessed he thought it would be tight, but the rest all had predictions of 2 nil or more. that's what made it extra sick for me. i saw some after the game and they were unbearable. one wouldn't even admit that mccarthy had done well to get in the play offs with a team that cost just 110k to assemble in transfer fees! i pointed out the norwich team is worth around 270 times more and i simply made the point it didn't really show as up until the sending off it was on a knife-edge. if you work out the cost of the man united team and divide by 270 i expect it comes to under 30 million, therefore, if you do the maths there is actually a bigger gap financially for us to beat norwich than there would be for norwich to beat man united. my point was simply they hardly looked good value for all that extra money. but trying to get one of them to admit it in this neck of the woods is impossible. if boro win next week i'm going to be a very happy man. i don't think we would have done very well in the prem league but we needed the money to clear the debts. i doubt norwich will do very well but again they'll get a shed load of money and the financial gap will be that much bigger and make it that much harder to close the gap. so for that, we need to pray for a boro win. i'd love it if we could get one over them next season as they are so smug and need bringing down a peg or two. i wouldn't mind taking it on the chin if they were more sporting about it, but the manner of how they've been about it is ridiculous. if the ipswich team beat a norwich team worth 270 times less of course i'd still be happy beating our local rivals, but if the game was on a knife-edge for the best part of it, i'd be wondering if we'd actually got that good value for the money, or at least credit the other team for doing very well with almost 2 arms tied behind their back!
i hope marcus evans watched some of those scenes and found them hard to stomach, such as stephen fry gloating in the moment, and they inspire him to dig into the chequebook for mick to have a real go, as if he did we might be in the dreamland of going up while they either come back down, or miss out on promotion from the championship. after the week i've had i can't tell you how satisfying that would be! C'MON ON THE BORO!!! :-)

MattinLondon added 10:06 - May 17
Also, don't forget that we have two young midfielders like Benyu and McDonnell who are both said to have a great future here. Hopefully they will provide that creative spark. Ambrose also has flair

toxtethblue added 10:19 - May 17
Bart is a good keeper, we dont need better. He was unsighted for the second goal and cant be blamed for the third - it was 1 on 1, you cant blame him there either. He has been tremendous this season and is a better all round keeper than Gerken.
Have to keep hold of Bishop, Murphy, Skuse, Berra, Sears. If we can get 8-10mill for Mings I'd take it as long as it was reinvested- could be a similar scenario to Dyer - enabling us to get 2-3 players in we need to get up next season...

midastouch added 10:24 - May 17
further to my message above, just wanted to say i was proud of the effort the team put in, they gave it their all. they gave it their best and you can't ask for any more than that. was good they came over to clap the away fans at the end and to see the travelling support stand 100% behind them. :-)

paulnstar added 10:38 - May 17
percentages football, very predictableipswich are alex neill said ,time to take ur dinosaur football elsewhere mick and terry I can watch the same style of football on a sunday park. we should have got the chesterfield manager paul cook in good football pleasing on the eye and with no money either but hey ho another13 years of championship football

Warkys_Tash added 11:34 - May 17
Some fair comments on here. No blame for Berra from my perspective, he would lay his body on the line to win & it was a natural reaction.

Now we need to hope Mick & TC want to stay. Evans has said he will continue to back them by bring competitive with wages so I still can't see us spending any significant money on transfers.

Let's hope Mick has learnt from the slump that started in Jan & coincided with playing a flat 4-4-2 with no decent pacey wide men. 4-3-3/4-5-1 suits us much better & is what most of the best/successfully sides play.

Proud of how competitive we were in the play-offs & it was always going to be a game changing decision that would edge it.

Looking forward to switching off from it all for a while, once I have cheered on the Boro! As it's been exhausting.

blue86 added 11:53 - May 17
As others have posted, I am very proud to be a town supporter. Thought in the first half yesterday
We gave it a real go and norwich looked nervous. Feel for berra but he has been quality all season and has been our best cb since de vos, just a natural reflex for the handball. And for us to get on level terms with ten men shows the guts and team work of the lads. yes it might not always be pretty flowing football but I'm pleased McCarthy is our manager, hopefully with a few additions and to keep hold of the spine of the side we can give it another go next season. And maybe just maybe... Get one over on norwich!!! Come on boro!!! And COYB

runningout added 12:12 - May 17
trying to convince myself we have a squad that can read a game of football and go places... There are obvious and unnecessary weaknesses there, and once sorted we'll have the unusual ability to take 3 points at most weekends and midweek, and be less pitiful against local rivals...

riley26 added 12:25 - May 17
Couldn't really bring myself to write anything down yesterday, I wasn't angry, crying or anything in between really, just felt sort of empty as the whistle signalled the end of our season. There was no major injustices on the field, no one with which to apportion blame, certainly not Christoph Berra, whom we are extremely lucky to have, on a free no less, we didn't lose to a 90th minute winner or on the lottery of penalties, there was no overwhelming moment I could look back on and think what if?

Certainly feeling despondent today, but like many others trying to focus on the many, many positives from the season and looking forward optimistically to the next. I see no reason why we shouldn't be challenging for top six again, who knows, with the right personnel brought in, top two? I can't see anyone leaving unless it is for silly money and the player demands a move, but if the atmosphere in the dressing room is as portrayed, why would anyone be itching to jump ship?

Anyway, proud of all the efforts from top to bottom at the club, if anything, it just feels like we've got our club back so to speak. There was a good 7-8 seasons when if you had asked me who my favourite Ipswich player was, I wouldn't really have had much of an answer for you, pretty uninspiring on the whole, now, it could be any one of a number of players, it's a team we can be proud of - just gutted we couldn't go all the way and prove all the doubters wrong...

Chrisw added 13:21 - May 17
First half - absolutely brilliant. First 10 minutes of the second half always absolutely crucial and expected Norwich to batter us. That's when you need players to be 100% focussed and alert. What do we get - Mings with his head still in the dressing room gave away a sloppy pass and the rest is history as they say. He is a talented player but fell away after Christmas with all the Arsenal talk. Head too big for his boots? I don't know - only MM knows that. Feel for the older players like Skuse, Murphy and Chambers that all their hard work has come to nothing. I am sure that Mings will get another crack at promotion but, whatever the problem with his head, it needs sorting out fast or he doesn't play next season.

warktheline added 14:29 - May 17
The squad this season have given their all, but this won't be enough to progress next season, surely McCarthy will be looking to strengthen in the summer. Really can't see futures for Tabb, S.Hunt, Anderson. The Chambers situation can't continue, a tough call needed there! Mings may go for big money, no complaints there, especially if money gets reinvested on pitch. Parr will want to sort out where he figures in McCarthy's plans. McGoldrick has question marks!
A lot to sort out, but I'm confident McCarthy will address all issues and have the boys ready for new campaign. He's far from silly, and will realise improvement again next season is of the upmost, hopefully, ME will also be on the same page!

TimmyH added 15:48 - May 17
Amazing we used to have such differences @warktheline - agree with your post, clear out in the summer of large parts of the midfield is a requirement and I'd probably add Ambrose to the list, be nice to see some genuine talent out on the wings but as we know Mick generally likes to play 'narrow' so not sure that will happen! - and a creative player in the centre who passes well and who can run with the ball and take players on. Some fine tuning in other areas and maybe we can surpass what we have achieved this season but without the above I'm really not sure.

coolcat added 16:49 - May 17
Despite defeat doesn't take away how proud I felt standing there with the other fans. Like the way Town fans cheered on the team even when they were down. A lot of fans felt the same at the end. Would have been nice to go to Wembley but are proud of the team, nevertheless for making it this far. The best season in years. Town have turned a corner and seeing McGoldrick again is very encouraging. Was reading that Danny Haynes is out of contract - a thorn in Norwich's side, apparently.

On another note, I hope Boro' stuff Norwich, which even you weren't biased, you know would happen anyway. I am really looking forward to seeing Norwich next season. Not least to hopefully wipe the smiles off the faces of those fans brandishing their 'canaries' scarfs.

budgieplucker added 17:10 - May 17
I don't think there should be any finger pointing in respect of mistakes yesterday as the lads gave their all and we know any player Mick selects will always give 110 pct and the starting line up yesterday was arguably as good as we could muster. With a cool 5 million to spend that could buy us a Zaki Fryers!!!! That shows the predicament. Makes 100K on Freddie look the bargain of the season. Micks built a solid foundation a great team spirit and club togetherness. I would expect to see 3 or 4 new faces and 2 or 3 of the first team squad leaving the club during the close season. I like Bru, Bishop and Skuse as a midfield combination and they done very well in the first half. They are all very good players at this level and Bish will get better - but we have to be honest how many goals is there in those three players? An injury to Murphy and we could be in trouble, plus I think Murphs had an exceptional season, 18-20 goals next year will still be a very good tally. The club needs strengthing in my view with some more pace in the middle of the park or in wide position. A backup to Murph and a first choice keeper who can command his box and make the ball stick when he comes for it. Our target investment should be up to 500K on players like Bournemouth who paid this for Matt Ritchie from Swindon. I think a modest 1-2 million spend from ME could pay some dividends as well as of course some well negotiated Bosmans as normal.

DerryfromBury added 18:42 - May 17
I fully appreciate and understand your disappointed which is shared by so many of us including the player and mgt, However, I think your being bit harsh with your criticism of Marcus Evans. The club debt (78m) is all held by the Marcus Evans group, it could and would be a hell of a lot worse if it was the banks to whom we owed that money. With regards to "never seeing him" I'm quite fortunate that my seat is not very far from the corporate boxes and can verify that Marcus Evens and his family and friends attended almost all this seasons home games.

Funky4000 added 19:46 - May 17
The defensive situation needs to be sorted out for next season as only three clean sheets since the start of January isn't good enough.

barrysandals added 20:31 - May 17
I've read newspaper reports that suggested Norwich had the upper hand in the first half! I must of been watching a different game as I thought we dominated Norwich.
However, we must move on to next season. The current squad have done fantastically well to achieve so much on a shoestring budget.
Next season I would like to see ME invest in a left midfielder like many others on this forum. Charlton have Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson who would be a fantastic addition and would mean no Tabb and S Hunt, although both players have given their all.
Also on MM wishlist must be a RB........

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