Ipswich Town 1-1 Derby County - Match Report
Wednesday, 13th Feb 2019 21:54
Sub Jon Nolan’s second goal of the season saw the Blues to a 1-1 home draw with Derby County, former Town loanee Tom Lawrence having given the Rams an early lead. Lawrence netted in the second minute but the Blues were the better side throughout and deserved more than Nolan’s equaliser in the 55th minute.
Town were without Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse, the skipper having been been suffering with a foot injury since the Aston Villa game and feeling the problem late on at Norwich, while Skuse was ill.
The Blues’ captain’s absence saw Jonas Knudsen join Matthew Pennington, a Rams target in January, at the centre of the defence with Myles Kenlock at left-back and James Bree on the right. In the absence of Chambers and vice-captain Skuse, keeper Bartosz Bialkowski wore the armband.
Trevoh Chalobah took up the deeper-lying midfield role with Teddy Bishop returning to the starting line-up alongside Flynn Downes ahead of him.
Alan Judge was behind strikers Will Keane and Collin Quaner with Freddie Sears out for nine months having suffered an ACL injury at Norwich, while Gwion Edwards was back in the 18 after a groin problem.
Derby included ex-Blues striker Martyn Waghorn and former loanee Lawrence from the start, but another one-time Town frontman Jack Marriott was not ready to return after illness and an ankle injury.
Back in the Derby side for the first time since his ban for biting Stoke’s Joe Allen in November was ex-Canaries midfielder Bradley Johnson.
The game got under way following a minute’s applause for World Cup-winning keeper Gordon Banks, who died yesterday.
And as on Sunday at Norwich, the game couldn’t have got off to a worse possible start for Town with Derby, like the Canaries, taking the lead in only the second minute.
Johnson lofted a ball to the right of the box from midway inside the Town half on the left and Jayden Bogle nodded it back across the area to Lawrence.
The former loanee, who had gone into the match without a goal in 10 Championship games, volleyed into the ground, catching Bree with his follow through, and the ball deflected off Knudsen and arced past the wrong-footed Bialkowski to his right.
Despite conceding another early goal, Town quickly started to make some headway, Keane feeling he might have won a freekick after being bundled over having beaten the hesitant Fikayo Tomori to the ball, however referee Andy Madley waved away his appeals.
The Blues began to dominate possession and on 10 Keane fed Quaner on the edge of the box but the German shot over.
Four minutes later, Quaner won a corner on the right and from Judge’s flag-kick Pennington’s header took the ball away from Knudsen at the far post, who was the better placed of the two.
Just after the 15-minute mark was passed, Bishop won the ball midway inside the Town half, broke forward and played forward into Keane’s path but just too far ahead of the on-loan Hull City man, who was being watched by former Blues boss Mick McCarthy, now the manager of the Republic of Ireland, who the striker has switched international allegiance to represent.
Waghorn was booked for a dive when he claimed he’d been fouled by Pennington in the 21st minute, then three minutes later a Kenlock pass in to Bishop on the edge of the box was just too powerful for the midfielder.
As at Norwich, Town were seeing most of the ball but without seriously threatening the Derby goal.
The Rams meanwhile were looking more of a threat on the break, Knudsen making an important block from Johnson in the 27th minute.
Town broke straight up the other end with Judge feeding Quaner to his left from where the on-loan Huddersfield man shot not too far over.
Moments later, Quaner found Keane on the right and the on-loan Hull man’s shot was blocked, then on the half hour, with the Blues keeping up the pressure, a Chalobah effort from 25 yards was deflected wide.
As the half moved into its final scheduled five minutes Chalobah flicked a Judge freekick from the left just wide, although without unduly worrying Derby keeper Kelle Roos.
There was a scare for the Blues on 45 when a corner from the left reached Tomori in the six-yard box hit the defender on the shin and fortunately bounced wide of the post. But it was Town who were still on top as the half-time whistle was blown.
Town’s first-half display had been virtually a carbon copy of the performance at Norwich with the Blues passing the ball around and confident in possession - perhaps even more so than at Carrow Road - without being able to carve out a clear-cut chance opportunity to level.
Aside from Lawrence’s second-minute goal, another which looked all too easy for the opposition, stand-in skipper Bialkowski had hardly been threatened.
Town need to turn their possession into chances and in turn into goals if they are to prevent another home game from ending in defeat.
Harry Wilson scuffed the second period’s first effort through to Bialkowski in the 49th minute as the half got off to a scruffy start.
Town swapped Downes for Nolan in the 53rd minute as Lawrence underwent treatment with Derby players spending time on the ground with increasing regularity.
Within two minutes of coming on the summer signing from Shrewsbury levelled the scores.
Quaner made a powerful run towards the penalty area before laying it to Nolan to his right from where the sub smashed a low drive past Roos and into the net, his second goal of the season.
Bishop was yellow-carded for a foul on Tomori, then Duane Holmes joined him in the book for a late challenge on Nolan.
Having got their equaliser Town continued to take the game to the visitors with increased confidence and with the Blues support becoming more and more vociferous.
Blues nemesis David Nugent replaced Wilson on 62 before Chalobah was booked for pulling back Lawrence.
Judge curled a freekick goalwards from 25 yards in the 66th minute but Roos was able to claim with little fanfare.
Two minutes later Keane, putting in his most impressive display of his time with Town, deftly took the ball down and flicked it into the path of Bishop, who took it on and struck a shot which was deflected over.
From the resultant corner, the Blues went even closer. Chalobah got a flick on Judge’s corner from the right and the ball reached Knudsen, who slammed a first-time effort powerfully towards goal but Holmes somehow headed it off the line. Moments later, Andre Dozzell replaced Bishop, who was warmly applauded off by the home support.
On 72, Chalobah shot not too far wide form distance following a Town move which included a sublime inch-perfect Dozzell pass to Bree.
Nugent, scorer of 10 goals in his eight previous games at Portman Road and 15 in 17 matches against Town, shot against Pennington, then on 75 Town switched Quaner for Ellis Harrison.
Town continued to press as the game moved towards its final 10 minutes, Pennington heading over from a corner, then Harrison crossing deep into the stand before just failing to loop another ball in from the right.
On 83 Dozzell’s ball through to Judge was just overhit with the Irishman otherwise in on goal.
There was a big scare for the Blues in the 84th minute when Keogh was found at the far post with his diving header goal-bound until Bialkowski pawed it away. Referee Madley was unimpressed by a Nugent dive and Tomori blazed over when the ball fell for him.
Town went closer moments later when Pennington headed a Judge freekick from deep across the box and Keogh somehow blocked a low Dozzell shot which looked destined for the corner of the net.
The Blues found themselves under more and more pressure as the end of the game neared but were looking a significant threat on the break.
Bialkowski, looking more his old self, helped a Waghorn header over the bar in the final scheduled minute then, just before the fourth official held up his board indicated five additional minutes, Knudsen slid in to block from the former Blues frontman.
Moments later, Nugent came close to adding to his Portman Road goals when he headed the ball off Pennington and then the bar from a corner.
Pennington picked up a yellow card for a foul on Rams sub Mason Bennett deep in injury time as Derby broke with Town having plenty of men caught up field. In the aftermath of the freekick, Nugent shot straight at Bialkowski.
That was the final action with the whistle greeted with applause by the Town support with a draw the least Town - and a depleted Town at that - deserved from probably their best home performance of the season.
There was little sign of the 32-point gulf between the teams for the most part with Derby only really on top in the closing stages when the Blues began to tire.
There were excellent displays throughout the team, with Judge at the heart of everything going forward, Quaner and Keane causing Derby plenty of problems up front and Knudsen outstanding at the back. Right-back Bree is also starting to find his feet with the Blues.
More performances like tonight’s, particularly against the division’s less-fancied sides, and more goals like Nolan’s well-taken equaliser and Town ought to close the gap to the teams above them, even if it might now be too late for them to bridge the divide to safety, which remains at 10 points plus goal difference following Reading's 2-1 victory over Blackburn.
The result ends a four-game run of defeats with Stoke City visiting Portman Road on Saturday.
Town: Bialkowski (c), Bree, Pennington, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chalobah, Bishop (Dozzell 68), Downes (Nolan 53), Judge, Quaner (Harrison 75), Keane. Unused: Gerken, Edwards, Jackson, Nsiala.
Derby: Roos, Bogle, Keogh (c), Tomori, Malone, Johnson, King (Bryson 73), Wilson (Nugent 62), Holmes (Bennett 73), Lawrence, Waghorn. Unused: Ravas, Wisdom, Cole, Huddlestone. Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire). Att: 18,604 (926).
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