|Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Aston Villa|
Saturday, 18th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 1-1 Aston Villa - Match Report
Saturday, 18th Aug 2018 17:19
Ten-man Town battled to a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Portman Road, Tayo Edun having been harshly sent off for two bookable offences six minutes before the break. Jonathan Kodjia headed the visitors ahead on 21 but Trevoh Chalobah equalised with his first senior goal in the 36th minute prior to Edun’s dismissal and the Blues were well worthy of their point during the second half despite the numerical disparity.
Bartosz Bialkowski was in goal with former Villa youngster Janoi Donacien at right-back, Jonas Knudsen at left-back and Toto Nsiala - making his home debut - at the centre of the defence alongside skipper Luke Chambers.
In midfield Cole Skuse returned having been left on the bench at Exeter with Chalobah and Jon Nolan, also making his home debut.
Edun was handed his first Championship start for the Blues on the left with Gwion Edwards on the right having missed the game against the Grecians with a quad injury, while Ellis Harrison got the nod as the lone striker.
Freddie Sears, Grant Ward and Kayden Jackson were among the subs having started at Exeter.
There was no place for Teddy Bishop or Danny Rowe in the 18, the pair having made their first appearances of the season following their injuries as subs at St James Park. Villa included former Blues midfielder Conor Hourihane on their bench.
After an uneventful opening, the Blues almost went in front via their first serious attack in the 13th minute.
After Chalobah had headed away a dangerous Villa cross from the right, Edwards made a powerful run down the Town right flank beating a number of players as he did so before playing inside to Nolan.
The former Shrewsbury man in turn fed Edun on the left, from where the on-loan Fulham midfielder sent over a cross which Edwards met at the far post as he broke into the box but the Welshman was unfortunate to see it smash against the bar.
Going so close to a goal gave both the fans and the players a boost with the Blues putting the visitors under pressure for the next few minutes. Harrison was narrowly beaten to a cross from the right by Mile Jedinak, then not long after was just unable to get in a shot on the turn after the ball fell close to him inside the box.
On 19, following a Knudsen long throw which had been flicked on by Harrison, Chalobah saw a shot blocked and Chambers hit his subsequent effort wide.
But two minutes later, Villa went in front. John McGinn whipped over a cross from the right and Kodjia flicked a near-post header across Bialkowski and into the net.
In the 29th minute Edun was very harshly booked for a challenge on Ahmed Elmohamady, which left the Egyptian international requiring treatment, having very clearly won the ball.
It was far from the first decision which had frustrated the Blues’ support with Jack Grealish in particular having shown a tendency to go to ground very easily and to stay there for some time.
From the resultant freekick a third of the way inside the Town half to the right, Grealish sent the ball into the box and Kodjia’s header scuffed the top of the bar.
On 33 Edwards out-battled Alan Hutton on the Blues right and sent over a cross which was just too high for Edun at the far post.
Three minutes later, Town levelled. Knudsen hurled in a long throw from the left, Harrison made a nuisance of himself as it came over and contributed to Villa keeper Orjan Nyland dropping the ball. Chalobah was quickly on to it and hit a low shot on the turn into the corner of the net to claim his first senior goal.
But on 39, only three minutes after getting on terms, the Blues were reduced to 10 men, just as they were in the corresponding fixture last season.
The already-booked Edun fouled Axel Tuanzebe just inside the Town half and referee Robinson issued the England U20 international with his second yellow and then a red card.
The tackle which led to the second card was at most borderline worthy of a caution, Edun had arrived a little late, while the challenge which led to the first wasn’t a foul.
As the very unfortunate Edun made his way towards the tunnel, he was applauded off by the Town support.
Fans’ frustrations with referee Robinson continued as the regular stoppages for apparent injuries to Villa players continued before the official was roundly booed as he made his way off at the break.
The scoreline was a fair enough reflection of a half in which chances had been relatively rare at both ends.
Town might have taken the lead when Edwards hit the bar, but could also have found themselves two goals behind when Kodjia similarly struck the woodwork having found the net with his earlier header. Chalobah took his chance clinically when it came.
Manager Paul Hurst stuck with the same 10 men at the start of the second half and the Blues began the period positively, Edwards almost making something out of an Edwards error.
Donacien got his name in referee Robinson’s book for a foul on Grealish in the 49th minute, the England U21 international again making an awful lot of the challenge.
Villa began to get more into the half and on 56 it took a number of Town defenders to crowd out Grealish inside the area, Donacien eventually blocking the midfielder’s shot.
But the 10 men were still looking the more threatening side and just before the hour, Harrison headed Nolan’s corner just wide. At the other end, Grealish played in Albert Adomah on the left of the area but the ex-Boro man’s shot scuffed weakly to Bialkowski.
Having made little headway, Villa made a double change on 63, ex-Blue Hourihane and Andre Green taking over from Tuanzebe and Birkir Bjarnason. A minute later Hutton was shown Villa’s first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Edwards.
Town, with a noisy Portman Road getting behind them, continued to keep the visitors at bay relatively comfortably despite the numerical disparity but on 72 Hourihane hit a shot which was diverted too high. From the corner, Green flicked the ball over.
Match Gallery: 12 photos
As Bialkowski prepared to take his goalkick Jackson took over from Harrison, who was given a warm ovation as he left the field. It appeared primarily a tactical move although Harrison had appeared to be feeling his thigh.
As the game moved into its final quarter of an hour, Hourihane took a rather obvious fall as a cross came over from the left, much to the anger of Knudsen and Chambers, who made their feelings known to the one-time Blues reserves player.
McGinn blazed wide after seizing on a poor Bialkowski clearance and Skuse hesitancy, then on 78 the visitors swapped Adomah for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
Moments later, Jackson was sent away but was forced wide to the right of the area and hit his shot over.
However, the Blues were continuing to look a threat on the occasions they got forward and two minutes later Edwards sent over a low ball which Nolan and then Jackson both came close to getting a touch inside the six-yard box.
Soon after, McGinn was booked for a foul on Nolan, then in the 84th Myles Kenlock took over from the ex-Shrewsbury man.
There was a scare for the Blues in the 88th minute when Nsiala somehow diverted a dangerous cross from the left over his own bar from a matter of feet out.
As the fourth official held up his board indicating four additional minutes, Bialkowski spilled a weak McGinn shot out for a corner. In the aftermath of the flag-kick, Green shot over.
Town found themselves under considerable pressure for the first time in the remaining couple of minutes with Bialkowski doing well to bat away a powerful Hourihane strike.
But they were able to hold out to claim a notable and fully deserved point against one of the division’s expected challengers in very difficult circumstances.
Having been reduced to 10 men before half-time it was a tough ask for the Blues to get anything from the game but they more than held their own after the break and even had chances to win it themselves.
It was far from a case of a team hanging on for a point and manager Hurst will be far happier with the display than he was with the performance at Exeter on Tuesday.
Fans, who gave their players a significant ovation at the end, will similarly go home entertained having enjoyed their afternoon at Portman Road.
Town may still be looking for their first win under new manager Hurst but it was the type of battling draw which feels more like a victory and Villa, who previously had a 100 per cent record, will be disappointed not to have capitalised. The Blues are next in action at Derby on Tuesday evening.
Town: Bialkowski, Donacien, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Chalobah, Edwards, Skuse, Nolan (Kenlock 84), Edun, Harrison (Jackson 73). Unused: Gerken, Spence, Ward, Sears, Downes.
Villa: Nyland, Tuanzebe (Green 63), Chester (c), Jedinak, Hutton, Elmohamady, Bjarnason (Hourihane 63), McGinn, Adomah (Hepburn-Murphy 78), Grealish, Kodjia. Unused: Moreira, Taylor, Whelan, Elphick. Ref: Tim Robinson (West Sussex). Att: 17,824 (Villa: 2,027).
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