Aston Villa 0-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 11th Feb 2017 16:06
Town’s game against Aston Villa remains 0-0 at half-time.
Grant Ward replaced Cole Skuse in midfield in an otherwise unchanged Town side, again in a 3-5-2 system, the ex-Spurs man having taken over from the Bristolian when he suffered an achilles injury during last week’s 2-2 home draw with Reading.
Aston Villa handed a debut to former Swansea full-back Neil Taylor and home debuts to one-time Blue Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan and Birkir Bjarnason. Striker Keinan Davis, who had a trial with the Town academy at the start of last season, was on the bench.
The game started feistily with Hourihane catching Emyr Huws with an elbow after only 10 seconds, much to the anger of skipper Luke Chambers, who remonstrated with referee Tim Robinson, but the official gave a freekick and nothing beyond that.
On seven Ward conceded a freekick just outside the area, which Hourihane hit into the wall. Town failed to clear and Bartosz Bialkowski did well to save from Lansbury from an angle on the left down to his right.
From the corner, Bialkowski was forced into an even better stop, saving sharply from Hourihane after a loose ball had fallen to the Irishman. Chambers blocked a subsequent effort before the ball went behind off a Villa player.
Town claimed a penalty two minutes later when top scorer Tom Lawrence skipped into the area and ended up on the ground as he went past a defender. Referee Robinson was unmoved.
Having found themselves under pressure only a couple of minutes earlier the Blues, wearing white shirts and blue shorts, briefly began to dictate the game and on 11 Ward crossed from the right and McGoldrick’s header was blocked by Lansbury.
On 17 Hourihane found space midway inside the Town half and played in Taylor on the left but the left-back slipped as Josh Emmanuel challenged and eventually the ball was bundled out off the Wales international.
Villa got back on top as the half moved towards its midway point and on 21 they came very close to going in front. Hogan won a freekick from Steven Taylor on the left and rather than crossing Lansbury played a low ball to the edge of the box to the unmarked Bjarnason, who struck a powerful shot which crashed against the bar with Bialkowski beaten.
Town lost Taylor soon afterwards, the defender having treatment on the touchline before disappearing down the tunnel. Myles Kenlock replaced him soon afterwards, the 20-year-old going to left wing-back, Jonas Knudsen to the left of the three and Christophe Berra to the centre.
Villa continued to have most of the ball and on 33 Hogan curled a shot wide from the edge of the box.
Three minutes later, Alan Hutton broke down the right and sent in a deep cross which flew beyond Hogan and Chambers to Jonathan Kodjia, whose acrobatic effort fortunately for Town lacked power and Bialkowski claimed.
McGoldrick conjured the Blues’ best chance of the half a minute later, cutting in from the right and hitting a shot which may well have been on target until it struck a defender and flew wide.
After a Lawrence freekick from midway inside the Villa half had come to nothing, McGoldrick tried another effort from distance but sent the ball well over.
On 42 Chambers battled with Kodjia on the Villa left, the ball appearing to go out of play before the ex-Bristol City striker retrieved it and brought it back out and hit a low shot which Bialkowski saved comfortably down to his left.
In the final minute of the half Berra was caught in the face by a flailing Tommy Elphick arm as Lawrence sent a cross in from the right after a freekick had initially been cleared. Elphick had got nowhere near the ball but referee Robinson was again not interested in penalty claims with Town manager Mick McCarthy clearly unhappy with the challenge on the touchline.
Berra underwent treatment on the pitch but in injury time became the second Blues centre-half forced off by injury with Jordan Spence taking over on the right of the three with Chambers now in the centre.
The half ended soon afterwards with Villa having been the better side and having gone closest to opening the scoring via Bjarnason’s strike off the bar, while Bialkowski had been the busier of the keepers and the home side had had most of the ball.
Nevertheless, the Blues had had spells on the ball without anything too significant being created from open play. However, they had won a number of corners and McGoldrick and Lawrence, who hadn’t seen enough of the ball, had shown fleeting signs of being able to cause the Villa backline problems.
Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Elphick, Chester (c), Baker, Taylor, Lansbury, Bjarnason, Hourihane, Kodjia, Hogan. Subs: Bunn, Bacuna, Green, Gardner, Amavi, Adomah, Davis.
Town: Bialkowski, Emmanuel, Chambers (c), Taylor (Kenlock 25), Berra (Spence 46), Knudsen, Ward, Diagouraga, Huws, Lawrence, McGoldrick. Subs: Gerken, Pitman, Bru, Sears, Moore. Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex).
Photo: Action Images
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