Ipswich Town 2-0 Burton Albion - Match Report
Tuesday, 18th Oct 2016 21:59
Skipper Luke Chambers and Freddie Sears were on target as Town ended their five-game goalless and winless run with a 2-0 home victory over Burton Albion in the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides. Chambers headed in a Sears cross in the 15th minute and Sears ended his own 38-game goal drought two minutes from the end to seal their first October victory under Mick McCarthy’s management.
Teddy Bishop and Kevin Bru returned to the Town starting line-up for Grant Ward, who dropped to the bench, and Jonathan Douglas who missed out due to injury, as did Jonny Williams - who played the final few minutes at Blackburn on Saturday after his ankle injury - as a precaution.
Town started in the expected 4-3-3 formation with Bishop taking the more advanced midfield role ahead of Bru and Cole Skuse with Sears on the left and Tom Lawrence on the right of Leon Best up front.
Burton made two changes - to their XI skipper John Mousinho and Jamie Ward for Tom Naylor and Will Miller - and started in their usual 3-5-2 system.
Neither side created a serious chance in the opening 10 minutes with the best opportunity coming on seven when Lucas Akins robbed Adam Webster but the Burton striker sent the ball well into the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Town went ahead and ended their five-games-plus goalless run with their first chance of the match on the quarter hour.
Best left the ball to Bru midway inside the Burton half and the Mauritius international cleverly turned and played it wide to Sears on the left.
The former Colchester man moved the ball on to his right foot and whipped over a cross, which the diving Chambers met at the far post to head home Town’s first goal in eight hours and 22 minutes of football.
On 21 Jackson Irvine was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Best after the Irish international had pulled off a slick turn and was making a run towards the penalty area.
There was a major let-off for the Blues in the 23rd minute when Akins was sent away on goal but, as Jonas Knudsen got back to challenge, shot wide when he ought to have done much better.
A minute later, Best found Sears in space inside the box but John Brayford got across to take the ball off his foot before the one-time West Ham trainee could get in a shot and end his 38-game personal goal drought.
Soon after, Best beat a man on the edge of the area and looked to feed Bishop, who was in space to his left, but over-hit his pass.
Burton should have got back on terms on 28 when Jamie Ward hit a powerful strike from distance which Bartosz Bialkowski could only parry out to Lloyd Dyer but the wing-back - who turned down a Town contract after a trial in February - scraped his first-time shot well wide.
It was Town’s turn to threaten three minutes later when Bishop crossed low from the right and Bru diverted the ball straight at Brewers keeper Jon McLaughlin.
Bru went even closer in the 34th minute after some head tennis following a corner. The midfielder hooked towards goal and the ball took a huge deflection and looped just the wrong side of the post.
Town claimed a penalty for handball after a subsequent flag-kick, then on 35 Skuse was booked for a foul on the breaking Dyer.
Burton were having just as many, if not more, chances than Town and two minutes later, after a quick break, Ward played the ball back to Dyer in space from the left but the former Leicester man shot well over.
The visitors threatened again in the 38th minute when a corner was cleared to Irvine, whose shot deflected wide off Best. Burton claimed it had struck the striker’s hand but referee Oliver Langford awarded only a corner and a penalty would have been very harsh.
A minute before the scheduled end of the half, Bialkowski was forced into another sharp save after Brayford had hit a strike from a tight angle to the right of goal after a well-worked move.
Town were fortunate to go in with their lead still intact at the break with Burton having had more than enough opportunities to get back on terms or even get their noses in front.
Having finally ended their long goalless run, the Blues had opportunities of their own in what had been an unusually open Championship game, which seemed unlikely to end with just the one goal scored having been like a basketball match at times.
The second half started scruffily but Town gradually got on top and 10 minutes after the restart, following a long spell of Blues possession, Best went close.
Lawrence brought the ball into the area and fed the striker, but he took slightly too long to get his shot away and Ben Turner blocked.
The Blues went close again just before the hour. Knudsen threw the ball down the left to Sears - in a position well beyond the Burton defence - and the frontman looped a cross to the far post, where Lawrence headed against Kyle McFadzean on the line. The loose ball fell to Bishop, but with a defender closing him down, the midfielder shot over.
Burton then enjoyed a spell on top, Webster taking the ball away from Akins on the edge of the six-yard box with his back to goal.
On 63 Irvine scuffed wide for the visitors before a limping Skuse was replaced by Conor Grant.
Town were next to threaten, Best superbly chesting a cross from the right into the path of Knudsen, but the Danish international got the ball caught under his feet.
Bishop eventually picked up the loose ball and drove into the area but his shot was blocked, then Best hit an effort straight at McLaughlin.
The former Newcastle man, putting in his best performance for the Blues, came close again in the 67th minute, cutting inside a defender before hitting a shot which deflected wide. A minute later, Ward took over from Bishop, who will have been pleased with his lively display.
Burton subsequently put the Blues under a spell of pressure but failed to create a serious chance, although Turner claimed a penalty - much to Christophe Berra’s annoyance - after a Ward freekick had flashed across the Town six-yard box. Soon after, Brewers skipper Mousinho was booked for a foul on Lawrence.
There was controversy in the 82nd minute when keeper McLaughlin and McFadzean collided as Best chased a long ball down the middle. Sears picked up the loose ball on the right and as he found the unmarked Lawrence at the far post with the goal gaping referee Langford stopped play for a head injury to McFadzean, much to the frustration of the Town bench.
With seven minutes Best was replaced by Paul Digby, the striker receiving warm applause from the Town support as he left the field. Digby took up the holding midfield role he has occupied for the U23s in recent weeks with Bru moving into the more advanced central midfield role and Ward up front.
On 88 Town sealed the win and Sears ended his 38-game goal drought. Lawrence turned inside his man on the left of the area before cutting across and Sears, without a goal since the Fulham game last December, smashed home, much to the delight of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand and his team-mates.
Town saw out five minutes of added on time to claim their first win since the 1-0 win at Derby just over a month ago and their fifth clean sheet in seven matches.
In truth it was a game which could have gone either way with Burton, who passed the ball around slickly, having had more than their fair share of chances. Equally, the Blues might have scored more if they had been more clinical. The game could easily have ended 4-3 either way.
The result moves the Blues up to 12th and, such is the nature of the Championship, only three points off the play-offs.
Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Webster, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse (Grant 63), Bru, Bishop (Ward 68), Lawrence, Sears, Best. Unused: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Digby, Dozzell.
Burton: McLaughlin, Brayford (Flanagan 89), Mousinho (c) (Myers-Harness 84), McFadzean, Turner, O’Grady, Akins, Dyer, Ward, Palmer, Irvine (Williamson 89). Unused: Bywater, Naylor, Miller, Choudhury. Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands). Att: 15,818 (Burton: 134).
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