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Ipswich Town 1-1 Sheffield United - Match Report
Saturday, 22nd Dec 2018 17:21

Ellis Harrison netted his first goal for the Blues and Billy Sharp equalised for the Blades as Town and Sheffield United drew 1-1 at Portman Road. Harrison’s deflected shot gave Town the lead in the 38th minute but Blades skipper Sharp levelled two minutes after the break.

Town boss Paul Lambert, with owne Marcus Evans and pop star Ed Sheeran both watching from the stands, made three changes to his team with Harrison, Andre Dozzell and Gwion Edwards all starting.

Dozzell replaced Flynn Downes, who dropped out of the 18, in midfield with Edwards in for Jack Lankester, who was among the subs, wide on the right.

Harrison, who had made two sub appearances since returning from his ankle injury, was making his first start under Lambert with Jordan Roberts also among the subs.

Sheffield United were unchanged from the team which lost 2-1 at home to West Brom eight days ago with ex-Blues striker David McGoldrick starting and former loanee Richard Stearman on the bench.

Blades skipper Billy Sharp hit the game’s first chance in the second minute, the ex-Doncaster man hitting a shot across Dean Gerken from the right of the box, which the Blues keeper just about bundled wide.

From Oliver Norwood’s resultant corner, the ball fell to John Egan in the box but the central defender’s shot was blocked.

The Blades threatened again in the eighth minute, Jack O’Connell crossing from the left and Sharp beating Gerken to the ball but sending it high and wide.

On 11 McGoldrick tried to trick his way into the area but Matthew Pennington forced the ball out of play off the former Blues striker’s toe.

Sheffield United continued to dominate and put the Blues under significant pressure. On 17 Sharp had the ball in the net from a freekick but having strayed offside.

John Fleck struck a low shot through to Gerken in the 20th minute, then on 24 Harrison managed Town’s first effort on goal, a header from a Spence cross which was straight at Blades keeper Dean Henderson.

But the South Yorkshiremen continued to control the game and in the 27th minute Pennington superbly dived to his left to nod behind a dangerous cross from the right. From Fleck’s corner, Egan nodded over when he will feel he ought to have done better.

On the half hour, Mark Duffy cut the ball back past Blues skipper Luke Chambers from the right to Sharp, who turned the ball over when he probably should have hit the target.

Town attacks were rare - as had been spells of Blues possession - but Edwards almost created an opportunity for Sears on the break on 32 but the Welshman’s cross-field pass was too far in front of the ex-West Ham striker and Henderson claimed.

The Blues had the ball in the net in the 35th minute via a Chambers header from a Jon Nolan corner but referee Andy Woolmer had already blown his whistle, presumably for a push.

Although he may have had a case with that decision, referee Woolmer was increasingly irking the ever-more vociferous Town crowd with a number of highly-contentious freekicks having been awarded to the Blades.

Despite the visitors’ dominance, the Blues took the lead in the 39th minute. The Blades gave the ball away on the Town left - a rare occurrence - and Sears fed Harrison, who hit his first Blues goal over Henderson and into the net with the aid of a deflection off Enda Stevens.

The Welshman, making his first Town start since mid-September, looked delighted to have broken his Blues duck having signed from Bristol Rovers in the summer.

Trevoh Chalobah was somewhat harshly booked for a foul on Duffy as the half moved into its final five minutes.

Having got their noses in front, the Blues looked a more confident outfit and saw more of the ball in the period’s closing stages.

Just before the whistle, Edwards dallied when he should have played in Harrison ahead of him on the right and lost the ball with the Blues in a promising position.

There was no doubt Town were flattered by the half-time scoreline on the balance of a period largely dominated by the Blades.

However, the visitors were unable to make their dominance count in terms of goals before the Blues took what was at best a half-chance when it came, Harrison appearing to get the benefit of a deflection.

Following the goal, Town got on the ball more in midfield with Dozzell and Nolan increasingly involved and they ended the half on the front foot.

But the Blues’ lead would last only two minutes of the second half. Norwood whipped over a superb cross from the right which beat Chambers and Sharp nodded home his 13th goal of the season from close range.

Despite the setback of the early equaliser, Town began to put the visitors under pressure winning a series of corners. From one Harrison teed-up Sears, whose shot was blocked by McGoldrick, then from the flag-kick subsequent to that Chambers was unable to get over a high ball at the far post.

The early part of the second half developed into a more even game than much of the first had been but the Blades began to create chances. Sharp shot well wide on 57, then a minute later a low ball was played across the Town six-yard box but with no one able to add a touch.

Stevens lashed into the side-netting from a tight angle on the left after a cross from the right reached him as the match passed the hour mark with the Blades again starting to turn the screw.

On 66 Pennington did superbly to slid in to block from George Baldock with the right wing-back having been found in a promising position inside the box after a spell of incisive Blades passing.

In the 69th minute Sheffield United swapped McGoldrick, who was warmly applauded off by his old supporters, for Leon Clarke and Town switched Dozzell for Grant Ward.

Basham was booked for a somewhat cynical foul as Nolan burst past him just out side the area a minute later. Sears took the freekick but curled it wide with Henderson untroubled.

But the Blues found themselves under the cosh for the most part with the Blades forcing them to defend resolutely and at times desperately. On 77 Harrison blocked from Stevens.

A minute later, the former Wales U21 international was replaced by Roberts having put in an impressive shift.

In the 79th minute there was a scare for Blades keeper Henderson as he dropped a Nolan freekick played deep to the far post. Fortunately for the on-loan Manchester United keeper he was able to recover before a Town player was able to pounce.

As the match moved into its final 10 minutes the Blues began to look the more threatening team, winning a number of corners

There was controversy in the 84th minute when Norwood appeared to deliberately strike Chalobah off the ball after the two had tussled on the touchline. With the Portman Road crowd baying for a red card referee Woolmer showed only a yellow. The Northern Irishman could count himself lucky.

Jordan Spence was yellow-carded for a foul 30 yards out midway through three minutes of injury time. In the aftermath of what was an over-elaborate but under-practised freekick routine Egan volleyed well over.

That shot was to prove the final chance of an entertaining game, referee Woolmer ending the fixture soon afterwards before being booed off by a Town crowd thoroughly unimpressed with his afternoon’s work, not least the failure to dismiss Norwood.

Ultimately, the Blues will be happy to have taken a point given the opposition and the pressure they found themselves under for often long spells.

Town will be disappointed to have surrendered their lead soon after the break and had one or two chances to restore their advantage but for a greater part of the half they had to dig deep to claim a draw which sees them move closer to safety, the gap now four points plus goal difference with the four teams above them all losing. The Blues are next in action at QPR on Boxing Day.

Town: Gerken, Spence, Pennington, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Chalobah, Dozzell (Ward 69), Nolan, Edwards, Sears, Harrison (Roberts 78). Unused: Bialkowski, Jackson, Nsiala, Kenlock, Lankester.

Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Sharp (c), Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick (Clarke 69), Duffy. Unused: Moore, Coutts, Stearman, Johnson, Crainie, Washington. Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire). Att: 17,942 (Sheffield United: 1,292).

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dannye added 17:27 - Dec 22
This is a VERY good point and I am super confident we are not in the worst 3 sides in this league. The three above us all lost so a positive way to end the year...well done Paul and the lads

TimmyH added 17:27 - Dec 22
Absolutely nothing negative from me good point, lets hope this point goes someway to keeping us out of the relegation zone come May (as all other rival teams lost).

Just want to say that my father passed away in the early hours of today and was always a great chauffeur up to Portman Road, first game he drove me to a 7-0 win over WBA in 1976. RIP dad

martin587 added 17:29 - Dec 22
I’m absolutely over the moon.Well done lads.A very solid performance and a well deserved point.The gap is closing.
Things are on the up.👍Another happy drive hope to Southend.😊

BraveDave added 17:29 - Dec 22
A few games ago, we all agreed that we just needed to keep in touch with those around us until January. We are doing just that and so today has to be seen as a good point. A few weeks ago we would have lost that game - we rode our luck a bit but we are definitely capable of doing this. Unfortunately it is looking like there will be 4 teams battling for just one safety place. A shock win at QPR please!

Vancouver_Blue added 17:29 - Dec 22
Good point against a good team

lightingblue added 17:29 - Dec 22
To be honest I am happy with a point against a team that will be in the mix come the end of the season. Not so long again, we would’ve dreaded this game. On Boxing Day it’ll be another tough game, but let’s go there and be positive. Again a point at lotus rd wouldn’t be to sad, here’s to taking 3. Then we are right up the bums of the rest. A run of games without losing will be a relief.It is still a must win game against qpr like the rest until we are all but safe. As for now a relegation battle it is. Also nice to see a half decent crowd at Portman Road.

blueboy1981 added 17:31 - Dec 22
Valuable point against a good side - however, we obviously have weak links - full backs ? both have to come into question as to being good enough. PL must see something in Spence that many of us certainly can't see, there has to be a better option available to him.
Knudsen's head is elsewhere that won't change, therefore he is what he is.

Three points at home, however we get them, has to be the way out of this - a point on Boxing Day will compensate somewhat for today, therefore we need that now.

Good to see Harrison back, Dozzell technically very good, but far too lightweight right now - we lack a rugged midfield dynamo for sure.

Super Goal - let's have more of them please.


blueboy1981 added 17:34 - Dec 22
TimmyH - sincere condolences to you and your Family. Brings everything into perspective.

thechangingman added 17:35 - Dec 22
Yup, I'll take a point from this (especially in the context of the season we've had!)

I agree with others - we're probably not amongst the three worst teams in this league. We can't take anything for granted, and it'll be a battle, but I am feeling increasingly confident that we can do it...

Ps Condolences to you, Timmy, at the loss of your dad. That was a great first-game he took you to! My thoughts are with you...

OwainG1992 added 17:35 - Dec 22
Despite losing the lead im really pleased with that.
Sheff Utd are a similar quality to the year we made the play offs.
If PL gets 2 or 3 lads in who he wants I firmly expect us finishing lower mid table come season end.

therein61 added 17:37 - Dec 22
While we rode our luck big time I am so happy for(us fans) the boys in blue shirts who grafted like hell the collective spirit was fantastic and this was a game we would have lost in the past 5 seasons without doubt!! I get the feeling that the positive input from Mr Lambert will in the end pay off if we keep digging in and have belief instead of folding.

Great effort you boys.

martin587 added 17:37 - Dec 22
My condolences to your family.

Walk_the_Wark added 17:40 - Dec 22
Excellent result. Keep going Town!

runaround added 17:44 - Dec 22
A very decent point against a good Sheffield United side. We actually played better than against Wigan today especially defensively. Long way to go yet but we are in better form than those around us & if after the next 2 Away matches we are no further adrift than we are now, we will have an increasingly good chance of catching those above us

therein61 added 17:45 - Dec 22
So sorry to read about your Dad "Timmy H" wishing you and your family the best in a dreadful and difficult time.

hucks216 added 17:49 - Dec 22
Any one else see the ref jog to mark out 10 yards, which ended up looking like 6 yards, in the 70th minute or did I see things?
Two poor refs in a row now.

markyatetractor added 17:54 - Dec 22
To TimmyH
my sincere condolences for the loss of your father.My father took me to watch Ipswich in 62/63 season with me sitting on his shoulders and he passed away 3 years ago but still asked me about town's result every time i saw him.

budgieplucker added 17:54 - Dec 22
Well done lads for hanging in there against a much superior footballing side. Harrison’s goal worthy of a match winner but to be fair Sheffield deserved something out of the game. A point a very good result. Gestede, Marshall and Ireland would be my hopes for January and give the team a tremendous boost and a good addition of experience at this level.

blue86 added 17:54 - Dec 22
well done town, draw a good result against a decent blades team. starting to feel a bit more positive, if we could get 7 points from the next 4 games that would be even better! were slowly moving in the right direction, and thats all we can ask for. coyb

cat added 17:55 - Dec 22
Decent point against a top 6 side. Tables looking far more healthier than a week or so ago. Our saving grace might just be that there’s a lot of pish poor teams in the bottom half.
Condolences to Timmy.

DebsyAngel added 18:01 - Dec 22
So sorry, Timmy. RIP to your Dad, and condolences to you and your family. xx

DebsyAngel added 18:02 - Dec 22
Very entertaining first half, the second not so much. Shame they had to equalise but they are an in form team and a draw is not too bad. Challobah man of the match for me.

Nobbysnuts added 18:09 - Dec 22
Not a bad result on paper but draws are not going to get us out of this mess. With the teams above losing a win would of been massive. A point just isn't enough.

jas0999 added 18:11 - Dec 22
TimmyH - very sorry to hear of the loss of your Father. Best wishes to you and your family.

pinewoodblueboy added 18:30 - Dec 22
TimmyH. Sincerest condolences.

As for the match, a very hard earned point, just about deserved, but where the bloody hell are these referees being dragged up from. Another incompetent one today, following on from last weeks muppet............and please Mr Pennington change your boots for boxing day.

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