|Ipswich Town 0 v 1 Sheffield Wednesday|
Saturday, 2nd February 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday - Match Report
Saturday, 2nd Feb 2019 17:18
Lucas Joao’s 90th minute goal saw Sheffield Wednesday to a 1-0 victory over the Blues at Portman Road. Wednesday spurned a number of chances but Town were on top and starting to create opportunities when Owls sub Joao turned home Adam Reach’s cross from the right.
Blues skipper Luke Chambers and fellow centre-half James Collins both missed out due to injury, neither of which are understood to significant knocks.
In their absence Matthew Pennington and Toto Nsiala started at the heart of the defence with new loanee James Bree making his Blues debut at right-back and Myles Kenlock at left-back.
In midfield, stand-in captain Cole Skuse was behind Flynn Downes and Teddy Bishop, who scored a hat-trick for the U23s on Monday.
Collin Quaner started as the central striker with Alan Judge on the left and Freddie Sears on the right.
Trevoh Chalobah and Will Keane were on the bench alongside Josh Emmanuel, who was involved in the Town team for the first time since the final day of the 2016/17 season having returned from his loan spell at Shrewsbury.
Callum Elder was the loanee who missed out on a place in the matchday squad with only five of the six permitted in the 18.
For the Owls, who had new manager Steve Bruce in charge for the first time, striker Fernando Forestieri made his first start since November, while central defender Michael Hector was back in the team having been ineligible for last week’s FA Cup defeat to his parent club Chelsea.
The game started scruffily but with the Blues on top, taking the game to the visitors and trying to get their passing football going.
On 10, following a corner, Judge sent the ball back in to the far post and Pennington headed wide.
A minute later at the other end, Forestieri smashed a snapshot well over from distance after the ball had broken to him.
The Owls had shown little in the early stages but in the 18th minute they went close to going in front.
Steven Fletcher was found at the far post on the left in space by Michael Hector but Bartosz Bialkowski saved his shot with his leg. Kenlock cleared but only reached Barry Bannan, but the Scotland international’s low strike was blocked by Nsiala.
Moments later, Bishop skipped past his man at the other end but misread Quaner’s run and the danger was cleared.
The academy product was beginning to get more involved with his running with the ball causing Wednesday problems.
Town appeared to be growing in confidence and just after the half hour, following another Bishop run, Sears struck a low shot from distance on the right wide.
Despite the Blues having been on top, the Owls should have gone ahead in the 38th minute.
After a shot had deflected out to Morgan Fox, the former Town schoolboy’s low ball across the six-yard box was somehow diverted over the bar from a matter of feet by Adam Reach. The ex-Boro man will wonder quite how he failed to score.
Moments later, Forestieri nodded over from Liam Palmer’s cross from the right, then at the other end Bishop got his head to Judge’s under-hit freekick from the right but scuffed his attempt well wide.
On 42 Forestieri was found in space on the right of the box and Bialkowski batted away his strike. The Blues repeatedly made heavy weather of clearing but eventually the danger subsided.
Just before the end of the scheduled 45 minutes, Town won yet another freekick in the Wednesday half, Forestieri having fouled Quaner. The Owls failed to deal with Judge’s ball into the box from the left, an improvement on his earlier efforts, but eventually referee Oliver Langford gave the visitors a freekick.
That was the last action of a not overly-enthralling half in which Town had played most of the football but Wednesday had had much the better of the few chances.
New Owls boss Bruce will have gone off wondering how Reach had failed to give his team the lead, while Bialkowski had been the busier of the two keepers.
Town’s best moments going forward came from Bishop bringing the ball forward but so far without creating a clear-cut opportunity. The Blues had also failed to make enough of the numerous freekicks the Owls had conceded in potentially dangerous positions.
Five minutes after the restart Forestieri’s chip from the right of the box looped harmlessly to Bialkowski’s right with Wednesday having had marginally the better of the early exchanges.
Sam Hutchinson was shown the game’s first yellow card in the 54th minute for shoving Quaner into a hoarding as the striker burst past him round the outside as the Blues broke.
The German frontman, on loan for the rest of the season from Huddersfield, was swapped for Keane a minute later with the game increasingly being played in the Wednesday half.
Just after hour mark Bannan was yellow-carded for a foul on Bishop, before the Owls missed another golden chance to go in front.
Nsiala left a ball through to Bialkowski not realising Forestieri was behind him and onside according to the officials. The Argentinian looked certain to score but blazed wildly over. It was another fortunate escape for the Blues.
After Downes had been somewhat surprisingly booked for what referee Langford deemed a foul, Wednesday switched one-time Blues target George Boyd for on-loan Spurs man Josh Onomah.
Nsiala did well to force Forestieri wide after a Skuse slip on 68, then three minutes later Wednesday had another opportunity to go in front.
Forestieri was sent away on the left behind the Town offside trap by Hector but scraped wide when he either should have scored himself or cut across the area to Fletcher, who was immediately replaced by Joao.
Match Gallery: 9 photos
Chalobah replaced Bishop, who had tired after an excellent first half, in the 74th minute as Judge prepared to take a freekick on the right. The Irishman sent in a dangerous ball which eventually fell to Downes, who shot not too far wide.
The Blues threatened again two minutes later when, after a patient move, Skuse cleverly flicked to Keane, who fed Judge on the edge of the box but the former Brentford man shot over.
Wednesday subsequently put the Blues under pressure with Nsiala making an important blocking challenge inside the box, then Bialkowski claimed a high ball into the area at the second attempt.
On 79 Judge played a superb pass from the left into the path of Bree breaking on the right. The new signing sent over a low cross towards Keane, who had made a significant impression having come off the bench, but a defender just got across to turn behind. Following the corner, the ball broke to Bree but the on-loan Villa man shot well over.
Town forced Keiren Westwood into his first save of the afternoon in the 84th minute, Chalobah heading Judge’s corner into the ground and goalwards but without enough power to cause a problem for the Irish international, who lost his grip on the ball initially but reclaimed as Pennington went after the rebound and caught him in the head.
Rolando Aarons, who joined the Owls on loan from Newcastle on Thursday, took over from Forestieri four minutes from the scheduled end.
On 88 Keane headed a Judge cross from the right goalwards but without the power to beat Westwood, then in the final scheduled minute the South Yorkshiremen took the lead.
Town felt Hector’s challenge on Keane on halfway had been a foul, and the on-loan Chelsea man had appeared to go in with both feet, but referee Langford waved play on.
Hector played the ball wide to Reach, who burst round the outside of Kenlock and cut back to unmarked sub Joao, who turned home. It was the Portuguese striker's third goal against the Blues this season having netted both goals in the Owls' 2-1 victory over Town at Hillsborough in August.
Blues keeper-coach Jimmy Walker was yellow-carded for dissent in injury time after a foul on Hector had been awarded against Keane, although probably more through frustration.
Ellis Harrison took over from Downes for the final few seconds in which the Blues got one or two crosses into the box without being able to cause the Wednesday defence any problems. But there was to be no equaliser before referee Langford blew his whistle to boos, aimed towards the official rather than the Blues.
The Wednesday winner came at a time when Town had looked to be in the ascendency and for the first time were starting to create chances, although a 0-0 draw appeared to be the most likely outcome at that stage.
However, over the 90 minutes they couldn’t really complain about the result with the Owls having failed to take a succession of chances with Forestieri missing gilt-edged opportunities in addition to Reach’s first half howler.
Town continued to pass the ball far more than was previously the case but all too often without getting into dangerous areas with their only serious chances coming in the later stages and mainly from Judge’s set pieces, which improved as the game wore on with Wednesday giving away plenty of freekicks in dangerous positions throughout.
But overall, they don’t present enough of a threat going forwards and give far too many opportunities - particularly today with their makeshift and at times very shaky backline - to their opposition.
With Millwall and Rotherham drawing 0-0, the gap to safety stretches to eight points plus goal difference with 16 left to play and League One football next season looks an ever more certain outcome.
The Blues are next in action next Sunday in the East Anglian derby against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Pennington, Nsiala, Kenlock, Skuse, Downes (Harrison 90), Bishop (Chalobah 74), Sears, Judge, Quaner (Keane 55). Unused: Gerken, Nolan, Dozzell, Emmanuel.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hector, Fox, Hutchinson, Bannan, Reach, Boyd (Onomah 65), Forestieri (Aarons 86), Fletcher. Unused: Dawson, Pelupessy, Thornley, Nuhiu. Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands). Att: 16,888 (Wednesday: 1,713).
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