Ipswich Town 1-0 Leeds United - Match Report
Saturday, 13th Jan 2018 17:24
Bersant Celina’s brilliant 30-yard second-half strike saw Town to a 1-0 victory over 10-man Leeds United at Portman Road. Whites midfielder Eunan O’Kane was dismissed on 37 for head-butting Jonas Knudsen and Celina sealed the Blues’ first win of 2018 in the 67th minute.
Dean Gerken started in goal for the Blues for the first time in the league this season with regular keeper Bartosz Bialkowski out with a minor calf injury.
Cole Skuse, Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn came back into the starting line-up for Luke Hyam, Kevin Bru and Freddie Sears, who were all subs.
Young defender Chris Smith was on an inexperienced bench having been recalled from his loan spell at Chelmsford.
Leeds made seven changes from the side which lost 2-1 to Newport County in the FA Cup last week.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s applause in tribute to Blues legend Ted Phillips, who died earlier in the week aged 84.
Town claimed a penalty in the fifth minute when striker Joe Garner was caught by a Leeds boot inside the area. Referee Robert Jones waved the protests away, appearing to indicate that Garner, who subsequently required lengthy treatment, had handled the ball prior to receiving the kick.
The Blues started slightly more brightly than the Whites, who went into the match five places and seven points above the hosts, in a quiet opening but without creating a serious chance.
In the 15th minute Gaetano Berardi crossed from the Leeds right wing and Gerken collided with Kemar Roofe as he sought to punch. The loose ball fell to Ezgjan Alioski, but he scraped wide.
Three minutes later, Skuse fed Celina on the left and the on-loan Manchester City man cut the ball back towards a number of Town players breaking into the box but a Leeds defender toed the ball back to keeper Felix Wiedwald.
The West Yorkshiremen went closer on 19 when Pablo Hernandez cut back from the right to Pawel Cibicki, but the Swede mishit wide when he ought to have done better.
Three minutes later, Celina played in McGoldrick on the right of the Leeds box but Garner was unable to direct his chipped ball on target beyond the far post.
Leeds were forced into a sub on 28 with Hadi Sacko replacing Cibicki, who had undergone treatment a few minutes earlier following a tackle by Iorfa.
There was a scare for the Blues in the 32nd minute when Roofe escaped down the right and cut into the box. Jonas Knudsen, playing at left centre-half, held the ex-Oxford man up before slipping, but skipper Luke Chambers blocked the striker’s subsequent shot.
Leeds were getting on top and were beginning to dictate the game but in the 37th minute they were reduced to 10 men.
Callum Connolly saw the ball out of play on the right and was shoved unnecessarily by O’Kane. Knudsen appeared to remonstrate with the Irishman, who head-butted the Danish international, flooring him. Referee Robert Jones, who was close to the incident, immediately showed the ex-Bournemouth man a red card.
There was little complaint from the Leeds players as O’Kane very slowly made his way towards the tunnel and Knudsen underwent treatment at length before continuing. It was Leeds’ fifth red card in their last nine visits to Portman Road.
Two minutes before the scheduled end of the half Waghorn hit the outside of the post with a corner from the right.
Now with a man advantage the Blues began to dominate. Celina cut a dangerous ball back from the left which Vurnon Anita turned behind ahead of Garner, although referee Jones awarded a goalkick.
In injury time, Celina was inches away from opening the scoring, the Kosovan international curling a brilliant 25-yard strike past Wiedwald but off his left post. Connolly was first to the rebound but his shot was deflected wide, referee Jones again erroneously giving a goalkick.
Moments later the official’s whistle ended a half which had really only burst into life in the closing stages.
Town just about shaded the opening but Leeds had created the better chances and had started to get on top when O’Kane needlessly got himself sent off.
The Blues had begun to make their numerical advantage tell as the break approached with Celina unlucky not to have broken the deadlock with his late strike.
Leeds swapped Alioski for Conor Shaughnessy ahead of the second half and the visitors threatened six minutes after the restart, Kalvin Phillips hitting a shot from distance which Gerken claimed to his left.
The Blues forced Wiedwald into his first stop of the second half soon afterwards, Connolly working himself space to shoot from the edge of the box. The keeper parried his effort away to his left but to Garner, who hit his effort across the face and wide.
Connolly was yellow-carded for a foul on in 55th minute and then, after a short spell of Town pressure, Iorfa joined him in the book, for illegally halting a Leeds break.
Garner blazed high and wide on 65, then a minute later McGoldrick was fed inside the area on the left and played the ball back to Myles Kenlock, whose cross was just too high for Iorfa at the far post.
But Town fans didn’t have to wait too much longer for a goal, and what a goal it was. Celina brought the ball in a long way from the left before smashing an unstoppable 30-yard strike past Wiedwald and into the net before celebrating his eighth goal of the season in front of the Fortuna Düsseldorf fans in Section Six of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
The Blues quickly went looking to add to their lead, Garner powerfully heading Kenlock’s 70th minute cross goalwards but too close to Wiedwald.
Two minutes later, Chambers did well to block as Roofe sought to turn Sacko’s cross from the right towards goal.
On 76 Hyam took over from Skuse, then four minutes later Pontus Jansson was booked for lengthy and vociferous dissent even though his side had been awarded a freekick.
And in the aftermath of the freekick, Leeds almost equalised. Roofe played the ball back to Hernandez on the right and his cross was somehow diverted up and over the bar at the far post by Leeds skipper Liam Cooper.
The visitors, backed by 3,537 fans across the Cobbold Stand, went close again moments later, Hernandez sending a powerful 25-yard effort not too far over Gerken’s bar. On 88 Phillips was booked for a foul.
Jansen did well to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Garner having continued complaints towards the referee, who may well have issued another red card but for Leeds already being down to 10 men.
Leeds put the Blues under some pressure in three minutes of injury time and Gerken was forced into his most significant stop of the afternoon, diving to his right to save Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s well-struck shot from the edge of the box. But Town were not to be denied their first victory of the year.
Celina’s superb goal was very much the highlight of a scruffy but entertaining and incident-packed game with the Blues never threatening to truly put the visitors to the sword with few real chances to add a second or more.
Leeds threatened rarely on the break but with the Blues backline and Gerken in goal comfortable for the most part, although Cooper will wonder how he failed to take his chance.
The win ends the Blues’ run of five games without a win in all competitions and moves Town, who are still 12th, to four points from Sheffield United in the final play-off place.
Town: Gerken, Iorfa, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Skuse (Hyam 76), Connolly, Waghorn, McGoldrick, Celina, Garner. Unused: M Crowe, Sears, Drinan, Bru, McDonnell, C Smith.
Leeds: Wiedwald, Berardi, Jansson, Cooper (c), Anita (Lasogga 78), Phillips, O'Kane, Cibicki (Sacko 28), Hernandez, Alioski (Shaughnessy 46), Roofe. Unused: Lonergan, Grot, Dallas, Klich. Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside). Att: 18,638 (Leeds: 3,537).
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