Ipswich Town 3-0 QPR - Match Report
Saturday, 26th Nov 2016 17:23
Goals from Grant Ward, Luke Varney and Tom Lawrence saw Town to a 3-0 victory over QPR at Portman Road. Ward put the Blues ahead via a scuffed effort on 13, then Varney benefited from an error by visitors’ keeper Alex Smithies nine minutes after the break, before Lawrence sealed the win - which in the end could have been even more comfortable - on 61.
Varney, Jonathan Douglas and Adam Webster came into the Town team for Freddie Sears, Josh Emmanuel and Teddy Bishop, who all dropped to the bench.
Douglas rejoined Cole Skuse in the centre of midfield, while Varney, who was making the first start of his third spell with the Blues, was up front with David McGoldrick.
Webster took up his usual central defensive role with skipper Luke Chambers returning to right-back.
Neither side had threatened before the Blues took the lead in the 14th minute. Tom Lawrence was fouled out wide on the left and sent over the freekick himself.
QPR keeper Alex Smithies punched weakly to the edge of the box to Grant Ward. The winger’s first effort was blocked but the former Spurs man regained possession, took the ball on a stride before scuffing a shot across the wrong-footed Smithies and into the corner of the net to claim his fifth goal of the season.
The visitors weren’t far away from grabbing an almost immediate equaliser after a sharp Tjaronn Chery break down the right but Cole Skuse did well to get back and outmuscle Conor Washington as the ball came in and Bartosz Bialkowski was able to claim.
QPR’s James Perch picked up the game’s first yellow card in the 25th minute when he needlessly slid in two-footed on Bialkowski with the keeper already having claimed the ball.
Perch protested but there seemed little doubt a card was warranted with some referees perhaps seeing the challenge as worthy more than a yellow.
Two minutes later, with chances remaining rare at both ends, Chery shot over from distance for Rangers.
Town should have doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when Lawrence whipped in an excellent freekick from the right. Berra reached it first but headed the wrong side of Smithes’ left post. The Scot will feel he should have been celebrating his first goal of the campaign.
QPR will similarly feel they ought to have scored in the 35th minute from their first serious chance of the game. Washington was found by a ball in from the right as he broke towards the six-yard box but Bialkowski was off his line quickly to block from the Northern Irishman.
The visitors were enjoying a spell on top and two minutes later Rangers skipper Nedum Onuoha scraped a low shot through to Bialkowski, who was untroubled.
QPR were lucky to end the half with 11 men after the already-booked Perch left Jonas Knudsen in a heap on the touchline. Referee Andy Woolmer opted not to issue a second yellow card, despite plenty of Town players reminding him about the former Forest and Newcastle man’s earlier caution.
Woolmer ended what had been a largely scrappy half of few chances moments later to boos, aimed in his direction for his leniency towards Perch rather than towards Town manager Mick McCarthy on this occasion.
Having gained their lead, perhaps fortuitously with Ward appearing to scuff his shot, the Blues ought to have increased their advantage when Berra headed wide.
QPR, who were playing the better football and putting the Blues under pressure in the final quarter of a hour with Town forced to defend in depth, went closest when Washington was denied by Bialkowski.
Three minutes after the restart, Jordan Cousins struck the first shot of the second half from distance through to an untroubled Bialkowski.
The Blues threatened a minute later when a Lawrence freekick from the right was headed into the air by a defender. After Douglas had seen a shot on the turn blocked, the ball fell for Webster, whose shot deflected behind off a Town player.
But in the 54th minute Town were gifted a second goal by QPR keeper Smithies, an incident which would prove to be the game’s pivotal moment.
Varney chased Douglas’s long ball over the top and the former England U21 international rushed out of his area but mis-headed his clearance behind him, allowing the Town striker to stroke into an empty net before celebrating his second goal of his latest spell with the Blues in front of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Two minutes later Skuse smashed a 25-yard strike into Smithies’ midriff, before the visitors made a double substitution with Sandro and Idrissa Sylla replacing Sebastian Polter and Perch.
But on 61 the Blues increased their lead further. Skuse struck a low shot from 25 yards, which only reached Lawrence just inside the area. The on-loan Leicester man deftly took the pace out of the ball before turning and slamming a low strike to Smithies’ left and into the corner of the net.
After Bialkowski had saved Chery’s well-struck effort from just outside the area, the visitors made their final change with Yeni Ngbakoto taking over from Cousins.
Shortly afterwards the very Varney, lively throughout, was replaced by Sears with the goalscorer warmly applauded off by the Town support.
On 71 Lawrence and Chery were booked for a clash, then seconds later the QPR midfielder left Skuse in a heap and was again spoken to by referee Woolmer.
The Blues were inches away from a fourth two minutes later when Lawrence sent over another excellent freekick from the left which just avoided Berra’s head and narrowly flew the wrong side of the far post.
McGoldrick curled well wide on 75, then a minute later Rangers went close to pulling one back when Sandro powerfully headed Chery’s right-sided corner against the near post.
As the game entered its final scheduled 10 minutes the Blues replaced Lawrence with Leon Best and continued looking for goals, largely on the counter-attack.
McGoldrick shot wide, then forced Smithies to palm a strike from a tight angle on the right wide. From the corner, the ball was cleared to Skuse, whose low shot was deflected into the net but with referee Woolmer having already blown his whistle.
Ward should have made it 4-0 when fed through one-on-one with Smithies in the 83rd minute but the keeper got down to his right to push the ball past the post. From the corner Douglas sent his header high and wide.
In the final minute of regular time Sears shot low to Smithies, then in injury time McGoldrick spurned another chance to make it 4-0 when his lob was pawed away by the keeper after he had been played in on goal by sub Best.
Moments later, Sears was sent through on goal but again was thwarted by Smithies, who had made an admirable recovery from his embarrassing earlier error.
Just before the final whistle, QPR sub Ngbakoto’s freekick from the edge of the area was saved at his right post by Bialkowski.
Having rather ground their way to their half-time 1-0 lead, in the end the Blues could have won much more comfortably than 3-0.
Smithies’ catastrophic error which led to Varney’s goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors with Town’s confidence conversely being given a huge boost.
Lawrence, whose set pieces were a danger throughout, took his goal clinically, while one or two of his team-mates will feel they ought to have got their names on the scoresheet via one of several late chances.
Town's last win by three goals or more was the 3-0 victory at Charlton in November last year - earlier that month the Blues won 5-2 at Rotherham - while the last win by three goals at home was another 3-0 victory over the Addicks in December 2014.
The win, much-needed after last week’s defeat to Nottingham Forest, sees the Blues climb to 14th, five points off the play-offs following Leeds' victory at Rotherham — three behind Norwich who lost 1-0 at Derby — and six from the bottom three. Town travel to Bristol City, who lost 2-1 at Reading today, next Saturday.
Town: Bialkowski, Chambers (c), Webster, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Ward, Lawrence (Best 80), Varney (Sears 68), McGoldrick. Unused: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Bishop, Williams.
QPR: Smithies, Perch (Sylla 59), Bidwell, Lynch, Hall, Onuoha (c), Cousins (Ngbakoto 67), Henry, Chery, Washington, Polter (Sandro 59). Unused: Ingram, Wszolek, El Khayati, Shodipoo. Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire). Att: 16,510 (QPR: 1,225).
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