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Stoke City 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 8th Dec 2018 17:15

A goal in each half from Tom Ince and Joe Allen saw Stoke City to a 2-0 victory over the bottom-of-the-table Blues at the bet365 Stadium. Ince’s injury time goal was harsh on Town after an evenly-balanced first half and Allen sealed the three points for the home side, who are up to 10th, on the hour.

Blues boss Paul Lambert made five changes from the team which lost 2-0 at Nottingham Forest last week, including a switch in goal with Dean Gerken replacing the out-of-form Bartosz Bialkowski.

Lambert, facing the club he managed between January and May of this year, stuck with the same back four he has fielded in all five of his previous games but with Cole Skuse out with a knee injury, Trevoh Chalobah returned in the deeper midfield role with Flynn Downes and Jon Nolan, who was making his first start since the change of manager, ahead of him.

Jack Lankester was handed his second senior start on the right of the front three with Freddie Sears on the left and Jordan Roberts the central striker. Kayden Jackson and Grant Ward, starters at Forest last week, missed out on places in the 18, while Teddy Bishop dropped to the bench.

Stoke made two changes to the team which drew 2-2 at Reading last week with Saido Berahino and Ashley Williams replacing James McClean and Bruno Martins Indi.

The game started in persistent and increasingly heavy rain. Chances were non-existent in the opening minutes but on six Benik Afobe almost profited from Matthew Pennington’s hesitancy, however, Gerken came off his line quickly to get something on the ball and, as the Stoke striker rather ambitiously claimed he’d been fouled, Jonas Knudsen cleared.

Penalty area action continued to be a rarity with the Potters having most of the ball although unable to test Gerken, but with the Blues also having the occasional passage of play but similarly without creating any danger.

On 20, with the rain having subsided, Berahino struck a shot not too far wide of Gerken’s left post from the edge of the box, before the Blues twice went closer to going in front.

First, following a corner on right, the ball was eventually played back to taker Lankester, who beat a man before hitting a shot from a very tight angle which truck the post, then keeper Jack Butland before going behind.

Following the resultant corner, Lankester crossed back in after his initial ball had been cleared and skipper Luke Chambers was unable to get enough on his header which slipped past the far post.

Ince shot over in the 24th minute, then Sears curled an effort similarly too high at the other after good work from the increasingly involved Lankester, looking far from overawed against an opposition side featuring plenty of players with extensive Premier League experience.

In the 32nd minute, with the Blues growing in belief and keeping the ball with greater confidence, Roberts shot wide from the edge of the box. A minute later, Nolan sent Sears away on the left but the ex-West Ham man’s cross was blocked.

Lankester threatened again on 35, cutting in from the right and hitting a shot which flew not too far over Butland’s bar after good work from Downes.

Referee Geoff Eltringham succumbed to what looked to be a hamstring injury in the 39th minute with fourth official Anthony Backhouse replacing him. Coincidentally, Eltringham was the sub official last time a referee was subbed in a Town match, at Middlesbrough a year ago tomorrow when Merseyside-based official Robert Jones was forced off at half-time.

Town deserved to go in level at the break having matched - and at times more than matched - the Potters but in injury time they fell behind.

Sam Clucas found himself in space midway inside the Town half and played in Ince, breaking into the area along with Afobe on an overloaded Town left, and the former Blackpool man slipped the ball under the advancing Gerken.

There was just time for a blocked Lankester header from a Chalobah cross from the right following a Lankester corner on the other flank to bounce through to Butland before replacement referee Backhouse brought the period to an end.

The late goal was harsh on the Blues on the overall balance of the half. Having started slowly, Town found their feet and in patches looked the more likely scorers with Stoke having seen a lot of the ball but without looking particularly threatening until Clucas found the gap into which he played the ball for Ince, who took his chance confidently.

Town youngster Lankester was the first to threaten in the second half. Five minutes after the restart, the 18-year-old was fouled just outside the area to the right then took the freekick himself, a Stoke defender diverting his strike - which looked goal-bound - over the bar.

The corner came to nothing directly but the Blues kept the ball in the final third and Downes hit a low shot from the edge of the box which Butland saved down to his right.

Town had started the half the brighter of the two teams but just before the hour the home side doubled their lead with a well-worked move down the left.

Pieters exchanged passes as he broke down the flank crossed low towards Allen, who deftly turned the ball across Gerken and into the net from not far inside the area.

The second goal gave the Potters’ confidence an unsurprising boost and the Blues briefly found themselves under pressure with Ince and Berahino both having strikes blocked.

On 65 Gwion Edwards took over from Lankester, who had put in another very impressive display having been Town’s most dangerous player in the first half. A minute after coming on Edwards was booked for a foul on Pieters.

Chalobah lashed wildly over for the Blues on 70, then moments later Stoke swapped Ince for James McClean.

Town were inches away from pulling a goal back a minute later when Nolan fed Roberts on the left and the former Crawley man’s low shot was diverted away from Sears and also past the far post by a Stoke defender’s toe. As the Blues prepared to take the corner, Andre Dozzell took over from Nolan.

Boss Lambert swapped Roberts, who had battled hard throughout without getting too many sights at goal, for Ellis Harrison with 10 minutes remaining.

Although the Blues continued to try to take the game to the Potters - and the travelling 1,100 Town fans kept singing - the match looked over from a competitive perspective with Stoke looking largely content with their two-goal advantage.

With two minutes of scheduled time remaining Peter Crouch and Darren Fletcher replaced Afobe and Clucas.

There was no late drama and the referee’s whistle confirmed the extension of Town’s winless run to nine matches.

The Town travelling support was the louder of the two sets of fans at the whistle as they cheered their side off after another promising but ultimately fruitless display, a familiar story since Lambert took charge in late October.

The Blues, who have never won at Stoke’s current ground, hadn’t deserved to go in a goal behind at half-time and began the second half brightly. However, it was the Potters who were the ones able to carve out the game's clear-cut chances and once Allen had netted his goal the result was never really in doubt.

An experienced striker with an eye for goal and a player, or players, able to create him chances are bound to be high on Blues boss Lambert’s January list of additions.

Town, now eight points plus goal difference from safety, will hope they can put in a similar display but while grabbing the first win of the Lambert era at the seventh attempt when Wigan Athletic visit Portman Road next Saturday.

Stoke City: Butland, Martina, Shawcross (c), Williams, Pieters, Woods, Allen, Clucas (Fletcher 88), Ince (McClean 70), Afobe (Crouch 88), Berahino. Unused: Federici, Martins Indi, Diouf, Sorensen.

Town: Gerken, Spence, Chambers (c), Pennington, Knudsen, Chalobah, Downes, Nolan (Dozzell 73), Lankester (Edwards 65), Sears, Roberts (Harrison 80). Unused: Bialkowski, Bishop, Rowe, Nsiala. Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham) (Anthony Backhouse (Cumbria) 39). Att: 24,684 (Town: 1,011).

Photo: Pagepix

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Bluearmy_81 added 17:19 - Dec 8
Evans has killed this club. Anyone who defends him is part of the problem

blueboy1981 added 17:23 - Dec 8
A good show from the youngsters, which is everything we can expect from them - however, many others are just not up to Championship standard and our destiny is League 1 - however positive or optimistic one choses to be.

Don't hang onto the January thing as being the turning point - because, players approached to come in will know next season they will be playing at a lower level - therefore getting the required level of player in will be impossible.

The short and medium term future just has to be the youngsters - longer term who knows ?

Jesney_Havoc added 17:25 - Dec 8
Is it me or are our results even worse under Lambert than Hurst ? Discuss..

blueboy1981 added 17:25 - Dec 8
......... just don't keep dreaming of survival - better to look forward to a possible 'derby' with Colchester next season.
Survival just isn't going to happen - just look at what is realistically required from this point, it tells the true story for all to see.

TimmyH added 17:27 - Dec 8
Nothing much to say from previous weeks...but we must easily have the softest underbelly in the Championship, what did Stoke have to do to win that? answer not a lot (2 shots on target).

21 games and just 1 solitary win in a competitive Championship shows just how bad we are...I ask of just 1 thing from Mr Lambert in the foreseeable and that's to drop Spence and Chambers as a minimum requirement, you can't keep playing the same back 4!

mathiemagic added 17:29 - Dec 8
There is no doubting ME lack of investment is the issue. Back to todays game I cannot fault anyones performance. The reality is simple, ME has with the help of Hurst assembled a League one squad to compete in the Championship. PL at least has got what he has at his disposal playing as well as they can. We cannot play as well as that against most teams in the league and not get something from the game surely?. The youngsters were excellent today with Downes getting my MOM just ahead of Lankester. An unchanged team will beat Wigan next week I am sure. League One becons but I am at least now, with PL in charge i am absolutely sure our stay will be a very brief one even with ME still as the owner.


blueboy1981 added 17:30 - Dec 8
....... the bigger worry is that an offer will most definitely come in for Lambert - no brainer for him to move on for such.
It will happen - just wait for it, and the decision.

Over to you - Mr Evans...... !!! - a serious interest needs to come from you NOW - sadly very much belated.

Reuserscurtains added 17:30 - Dec 8
Why was any of this Micks fault? I know it’s time to move on but surely Evans was always the problem and we now see how good a job Mick did.
Most of the time entertaining football requires good footballers and most the time that requires money.
An upsetting shambles that was all too obvious from the start of this #newera. Sad times

positivity added 17:32 - Dec 8
good effort from the lads, but we're down, need playoff form from now until the end of the season just to get to 50 points...

martin587 added 17:34 - Dec 8
Absolutely gutted.We started well and the young lads showed their class but unfortunately the injury time goal killed it.
Still 25 games remaining so we must not give up hope like some posters on here.Get behind the team and don’t keep saying we are down.That is not supporting the team.Remember “We are Ipswich”
Long drive home but I for one won’t give up hope until the impossible happens.COYB.

TimmyH added 17:35 - Dec 8
@mathiemagic - 'an unchanged team will beat Wigan next week' - it won't as that back 4 are about as robust as one of my Cheese souffle's!! - most teams have unpicked it this season particularly at home...

BraveDave added 17:35 - Dec 8
One or two proven goalscorers, plus someone (anyone!) to replace the woeful Spence - I don't think we can hope/expect for any more than that. Another performance where we competed, worked hard and had some good passing moves, but ultimately we haven't got anyone to regularly turn these performances into points.

I won't give up hope of a miracle, but as each game passes it looks less and less likely

RegencyBlue added 17:38 - Dec 8
Evans is responsible for this mess. After eleven years he has no one else to blame!

BlueArrow added 17:40 - Dec 8
I doff my hat to the travelling Towen support well done to each and everyone of you.

andyitfc added 17:42 - Dec 8
It’s all good saying the right things and inviting legends of the club to training, but making Jordan Spence a regular starter is nothing short of idiocy.

Our full backs are awful and costing us dearly, can’t see us staying up, but I’ll be back at Portman Road next weekend

Blue Army 💙

Northstandveteran added 17:42 - Dec 8
You can't fault the players effort under Lambert.
You can't fault Lamberts game plan and tactics.
But the players for whatever reason are just not good enough for this level.
10 points behind Rotherham pretty much sums up where we are at present.

StringerBell added 17:51 - Dec 8
I couldn’t stand McCarthy and his tedious brand of football but it’s plain to see that he performed minor miracles keeping us safe in this league with such chronic underfunding.
Evans tenure has been littered with mistakes and under achievement for which he is totally to blame. Sooner he goes the better.

TimmyH added 17:55 - Dec 8
yep! well said Northstandveteran...that about sums it up, personally play more of the youngsters, Kenlock and Emmanuel, Nydam and Wolfie need to be brought back.

OliveR16 added 17:58 - Dec 8
Perhaps these comment streams should be closed for the rest of the season and a link to a counselling services website be provided instead?

Cloddyseedbed added 18:05 - Dec 8
Unfortunately you get what you pay for in life, unless you are an ITFC season ticket holder. (that's always being constantly undermined with lower price ticket offers!) ME's skinflint approach over the years (Ok under Keane he went mad) is now showing what a disaster of an approach that was. MM signed tough no nonsense pro's that would always be steady but not push us on. If he'd been given millions it would have been spent on the same ole safe players, we were going nowhere. No we are going somewhere, down. Can't see a way out of this. Players who will come in will be older unfit players at the end of their careers and only one tackle or stretch away from a prolonged time out injured with us still paying inflated wages. Players coming in will take time to settle, we haven't got time. Hurst you were a feckin disaster of a manager, you were like a kid in a sweet shop with one hell of an ego. You hadn't got a clue what was needed. All that was needed was a manager to come in settle the ship and get 2-3 better players in, not oversee 3-4 very good players going out and not replacing them like for like + 2-3 of same class. If/when we go down younger good players will have an opportunity to go to better clubs and they probably will, can't blame them. Who's going to want to buy ITFC? What exactly would you get for your money? You would not own the pitch, the stadium, the training ground. All you would own is a poor standard of footballers suited to a lower league, a crippling debt and low crowds. ME's you have overseen a capitulation of our football club in the time you have been here. You have asset stripped as much as you can and truthfully you can't afford to run it. You maybe asset rich but you are cash poor and have been a disaster of an owner. I can't see the great manager in PL staying when we drop down either he is far too good for a 3rd division side and I wouldn't blame him one bit if he moved to a better club, because offers will come in. I now fear for the future of our club. I will always support the club whatever division we will be in as long as there is a club to support.

NITFC added 18:16 - Dec 8
Cloddyseedbed - well said. I agree with all of that apart from the asset stripping bit. We are all fed up with the Evans reign but according to the accounts he has put 90 odd million of his money in, not taken it out

Sibelius8 added 18:16 - Dec 8
Blue Army 81
"Evans has killed this club. Anyone who defends him is part of the problem"
I, and probably the majority of other Town Fans, agree with you for your first sentence.
However, your second sentence shows an intolerance and an unacceptably bigoted opinion (and a total disrespect) of those fans who do not share your own opinion. Such illogical reasoning does not help the club, or you!
"I'm right and anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot" is a sad and lamentable state of mind.

hyperbrit added 18:18 - Dec 8 not imagine for a moment that all those players were sold without Evans approval. If he has ANY conscience at all(??)he will absorb the debt and sell the club to someone who actually cares.Welcome to corporate raiding!!

BossMan added 18:22 - Dec 8
Was actually a MUCH better performance than Swansea where we really rode our luck.

Pilgrimblue added 18:28 - Dec 8
I agree Timmy. Some of the players brought in by Ph are just dreadful and that includes Spence. Not sure who PL can attract, prem players will only be on loan (maybe have some impact as currents loans are just shocking) but I guess others will come on basis that they can be released if we go down. Youth is however looking good and so long as we can keep them I think we'll have very good base next year with Nydam and Wolfy coming back (sooner i hope).

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