Ipswich Town 0-1 Sheffield United - Match Report
Saturday, 6th Jan 2018 16:59
Town continue to wait for an FA Cup victory as Sheffield United progressed to round four via a 1-0 victory at Portman Road, Nathan Thomas smashing the winner in the 25th minute. The Blues, who last won a match in the competition in January 2010, never looked like getting back into the game, failing to register a shot on target, and the Blades might have added to their lead in the second half.
Defender Tommy Smith, who is set to join the Colorado Rapids as revealed by TWTD earlier this afternoon, wasn’t included in a Town side featuring six changes from the one which lost 4-1 at Fulham in midweek.
Jonas Knudsen came in at centre-half alongside skipper Luke Chambers with Myles Kenlock at left-back and Dominic Iorfa at right-back as Town started in a 4-3-3 system.
Luke Hyam made his first start for 19 months in midfield alongside Callum Connolly and Kevin Bru
Up front, Freddie Sears was on the right and Bersant Celina on the left of central striker David McGoldrick.
New signing Aaron Drinan was on the bench alongside young defender Pat Webber and midfielder or striker Shane McLoughlin, whose only senior appearances for the Blues came at Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup earlier in the season.
The Blades made eight changes with former Town academy striker Caolan Lavery up front with skipper Billy Sharp, a regular Blues target over the years.
Town claimed an early penalty when Chambers headed the ball towards goal from a Celina corner from the right and it appeared to strike Daniel Lafferty on the arm. The Blues captain was adamant that the Blues should have been awarded a spot-kick but referee Mike Jones waved away the protests.
The home side had started the brighter of the two teams and in the seventh minute Celina brought the ball in a long way from the left before hitting a shot which deflected behind.
Town continued to look the better side with Iorfa proving a danger down the right, but on 15 Nathan Thomas hit the Blades’ first effort of the game wide from the edge of the box.
On 24 a corner on the right was played to Hyam on the edge of the area by Celina and the returning midfielder shot over. As the Blades prepared to take their goalkick, Chambers was booked for dissent claiming it had taken a deflection and ought to have been a corner.
A minute later, the visitors took the lead. Thomas, making only his second start for the South Yorkshiremen, was played the ball by Lavery 25 yards out and lashed a superb strike into the top corner of the net, Bartosz Bialkowski only managing to help it on with his right hand.
Town hadn’t threatened to get back on terms before the Blades went close to a second, Chris Basham cutting in from the left and shooting just wide in the 38th minute.
The Blues continued to having the lion’s share possession as half-time approached but without being able to carve out a chance. In the final scheduled minute Kenlock was played in on the left of the box but his low ball was cut out.
Just before the break Basham was booked for catching Bru in the head with a high boot, the Mauritius international subsequently requiring lengthy treatment.
Town had had plenty of the ball in a not overly enthralling first half but without creating anything of note, while the visitors had similarly carved out little at the other end. Thomas’s excellent goal had been rather out of place in the half as a whole.
The Blades swapped their goalscorer for Regan Slater ahead of the second half and the visitors had the first opportunity in the 48th minute when Bialkowski came out of his area to the right but was beaten to the ball by Sharp, who fed Slater as the Blues keeper ran back towards his goal but the sub shot over.
Two minutes later the Blades had an even better chance after Chambers played a weak pass back to Bialkowski. Sharp was quickly on to it and fed Lavery on the right of the box but the Town skipper got back to divert it off the line and wide.
The visitors continued to look the most likely scorers of the game’s second goal and on 54 Sharp flicked a header towards goal which Bialkowski reacted quickly to save, although the linesman’s flag had already been raised.
Town hadn’t appeared likely to get back on terms and it was little surprise that in the 61st minute 10-goal top scorer Martyn Waghorn was introduced for Hyam, who had put in his usual combative display on his return to the team.
Connolly wasn’t too far away from netting his fourth goal of his loan spell from Everton in the 68th minute but was unable to keep his header from Celina’s cross from the right down.
Two minutes later, the Blades went somewhat nearer to doubling their lead, Samir Carruthers exchanging passes with Sharp before shooting from a tight angle on the left and Bialkowski saving well to his left. Moments later, Sam Baldock forced Bialkowski to save down to his right.
Lavery, who had put in a lively display against his old club, was replaced by Clayton Donaldson in the 73rd minute.
As the game moved into its final 10 minutes Jake Wright was booked for timewasting as the visitors prepared to take a freekick.
Town had had long spells on the ball but had failed to create a single chance to level.
On 83 Slater shot over for the Blades, then with two minutes remaining - and a frustrated Sir Bobby Robson Stand singing ‘We want a shot’ - Sharp was switched for John Fleck, who immediately shot over from distance.
The Blades looked the more likely scorers in injury time with sections of the Town support berating manager Mick McCarthy and singing ‘What a load of rubbish’.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was booked for a foul on McGoldrick just before the end and Chambers headed Celina’s freekick wide, before Knudsen blocked a Donaldson strike. Moments later, loud boos greeted the final whistle.
While the second half was more entertaining than the first, the Blades - who fielded a much less senior team than the Blues - had been the better side and ought to have won more comfortably.
The result and the dismal performance on top of the disappointing Christmas spell saw fans loudly express their frustration with manager McCarthy for the first time in a few months.
Town, now without a win in their last five, four of them defeats, rarely created anything throughout and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 FA Cup win will pass without a run in the competition.
Town: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Hyam (Waghorn 61), Bru, Celina, Sears, McGoldrick. Unused: M Crowe, Skuse, Garner, Drinan, Webber, McLoughlin.
Sheffield United: Blackman, Baldock, Basham, Thomas (Slater 46), Sharp (c) (Fleck 88), Wright, Carter-Vickers, Stearman, Lavery (Donaldson 73), Lafferty, Carruthers. Unused: Moore, Stevens, O’Connell, Norrington-Davies. Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire). Att:12,057 (Blades: 1,110).
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