|Burton Albion 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Friday, 14th April 2017 Kick-off 19:45
Burton Albion 1-2 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Friday, 14th Apr 2017 22:01
Ex-Blue Luke Varney netted an own goal and Freddie Sears his sixth of the season as Town beat Burton Albion 2-1 in their first ever competitive game at the Pirelli Stadium. After a first-half in which Myles Kenlock had a goal ruled out for offside, Burton sub Varney nodded a corner past his own keeper on 52, Sears added a second in the 79th minute, before the Brewers pulled a goal back via a Lucas Akins penalty four minutes from time but Town withstood some late pressure to claim the three points and all but confirm their Championship status.
The Blues’ away game at Burton Albion remains 0-0 at half-time, Myles Kenlock having had a goal ruled out.
Top scorer Tom Lawrence and midfielder Cole Skuse returned to the Town starting line-up for the Blues’ first ever competitive game at the Pirelli Stadium.
Tommy Smith and Toumani Diagouraga dropped to the bench as the Blues switched to 4-2-3-1 system with Skuse, who missed the previous two games due to a concussion, alongside Emyr Huws in central midfield with Grant Ward ahead of them and Lawrence on the left and Freddie Sears on the right, and David McGoldrick the lone striker.
Michael Crowe was the sub keeper with Dean Gerken presumably having picked up a knock.
For Burton, former Blues striker Luke Varney and one-time loan keeper Stephen Bywater were both on the bench.
Blackburn’s 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest earlier this afternoon meant the Blues went into the game with the gap to the relegation zone only six points.
On a wet surface following a downpour an hour or so before kick-off and further steady rain as the game began, Burton struck the first shot of the game after a scrappy and frenetic opening 10 minutes.
John Brayford played the ball in from the right to the edge of the area and on-loan Fulham striker Cauley Woodrow, understood to have been a January Town target, was allowed to get in a shot on the half-turn but hit it too close to Bartosz Bialkowski.
Brewers keeper Jon McLaughlin was forced into a more serious stop two minutes later when McGoldrick struck a low effort across the wet turf and the former Bradford man did well to get down to his right to palm away from goal. Brayford cleared the loose ball.
On 16 Huws sent Sears away down the right with a well-weighted pass and the former Colchester man sent over a deep cross which McLaughlin claimed ahead of McGoldrick.
Six minutes later the Town number 10 flicked a Jordan Spence long ball into the path of Sears on the right from where he cut the ball back to McGoldrick, who shot over from the edge of the box.
The Blues were on top and on 24 a defender’s misreading of a bounce on the edge of the box almost saw Sears in on goal but the ball got caught under his feet. A minute later, following a corner on the left, Lawrence shot wide from distance.
Town had had most of the chances but on 26 the home side went close when skipper Luke Chambers looked to see the ball back to Bialkowski and Woodrow dispossessed him and crossed into the area where Huws turned it over.
Right on the half hour the Blues thought they’d gone in front but were denied by a linesman’s flag. Lawrence brought the ball in from the left and it deflected out to Ward, whose shot was turned in by Myles Kenlock, who briefly celebrated his first senior goal before spotting the flag, which video evidence suggested had been raised incorrectly with the 20-year-old onside.
Town should have gone in front in the 33rd minute when McGoldrick fed Sears in space on the right of the box after good work from Lawrence but the ex-West Ham striker blazed over when he should at least have hit the target.
Soon after, Burton claimed a penalty when a diving Chambers blocked a Woodrow shot but the ball appeared to have hit the Town captain in the face.
Huws stuck a low shot from distance through to McLaughlin on 38, then Kenlock did well to head away in front of Woodrow from a Lloyd Dyer cross from the right.
McGoldrick was immediately sent away on goal between two defenders at the other end but having got on the ball the striker slipped under the attention of Brayford before he could get in a shot.
There was a scare for Town on 41 when Ben Turner stabbed a loose ball over following a corner, before the Blues switched to a 3-5-2 system with Spence the third centre-half and Ward the right wing-back. Lawrence took up a central role behind strikers Sears and McGoldrick.
With the rain by now falling heavily, referee Oliver Langford ended what had been an entertaining half in which both sides had had chances.
The Blues had had more of the opportunities, although overall it had been an even game.
Kenlock will feel aggrieved that what would have been his first ever senior goal had been ruled out, while Sears will believe he ought to have done better with his chance, while McLaughlin had been the more tested of the two keepers with Bialkowski at the other end yet to make a serious stop.
Burton swapped ex-Blue Varney for Marvin Sordell ahead of the second half - the start of which was delayed due to a suspect package which was soon identified as of no concern - with Town continuing with their 3-5-2 formation.
Four minutes after the restart, Lawrence whipped over a dangerous ball from the left which bounced awkwardly in front of McLaughlin, who dealt with it confidently.
And in the 52nd minute the Blues went in front. Lawrence sent over a corner from the left and ex-Blue Varney inadvertently diverted into his own goal ahead of Huws, who otherwise had seemed set to nod home.
Skipper Chambers led the celebrations in front of the travelling Town support. It was Varney’s first goal in a Burton shirt, having scored three when at Town earlier in the season.
The Brewers looked to get straight back into it with Bialkowski forced into his first significant save when Michael Kightly was found in space on the Burton left and hit a shot which the Pole did well to stop and hold sharply down to his left.
Match Gallery: 8 photos
Town, with McGoldrick and Lawrence increasingly dangerous, were looking more likely to add a second than the home side were to level, albeit without creating a further clear-cut opportunity.
However, on 66 Skuse did well to stab away from Kightly after Varney had looked to send him away with Berra grounded.
Four minutes later, with the Blues putting the Brewers under pressure, McGoldrick claimed a penalty when he appeared to be shoved as Sears crossed from the right. The Irish international looked to have a case.
Town, by now back in their 4-2-3-1 system, found themselves forced to defend as the game moved into its final 15 minutes. Berra blocked a cross from the right, then Bialkowski punched from under his bar and Huws cleared.
On 77 McGoldrick twisted and turned on the right of the area but saw his shot blocked and was then dispossessed before he could cut the loose ball back to Sears. From the corner, Berra stooped to nod wide.
Two minutes later, the Blues doubled their lead. Huws caught Jackson Irvine in possession on halfway and Kenlock brought the ball forward to the edge of the box before feeding Sears. The striker’s first shot was blocked but he followed up to lash into the roof of the net.
Burton immediately swapped Kightly and Woodrow for Lasse Vigen Christensen and Akins. On 85 Town switched the again hugely McGoldrick for Brett Pitman.
With four minutes remaining Burton were awarded a penalty when the otherwise excellent Kenlock sent Varney tumbling with an awkward challenge on the right of the area. Sub Akins took the spotkick and shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.
The Blues swapped Lawrence for Tommy Smith during four minutes of time added on in which they found themselves under pressure.
Burton came close to grabbing an equaliser when McLaughlin cleared long and Christensen brought the ball in from the left before hitting a right-foot shot which deflected into the air off Berra and hit the top of the bar.
Town defended the resultant corner to claim their first competitive victory at the Pirelli Stadium at the first attempt, their second double of the season and their fifth away win of the campaign.
Overall, the Blues deserved the three points having been on top for much of the second half, after being unfortunate not to have gone in a goal ahead at the break.
Sears’s second goal ought to have sealed it but the late penalty made the final minutes more nervy than they ought to have been.
The result means the Blues are back to being nine points clear of the relegation zone, now in 15th, with four games to go and with a number of the sides below them still to play one another.
A freakish series of results aside, Town’s Championship status seems secure ahead of Monday’s home game against Newcastle United.
Burton: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Brayford, Mousinho (c), Turner, Sordell (Varney 46), Dyer, Woodrow (Akins 80), Kightly (Christiansen 80), Murphy, Irvine. Unused: Bywater, McCrory, Naylor, Barker.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers (c), Berra, Kenlock, Skuse, Huws, Ward, Lawrence (T Smith 90), McGoldrick (Pitman 85), Sears. Unused: Crowe, Bru, Emmanuel, Diagouraga, Samuel. Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands). Att: 5,236.
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