West Brom 1-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 9th Mar 2019 16:04
Stefan Johansen’s deflected fourth-minute freekick has given West Brom a 1-0 half-time lead over the Blues.
Jonas Knudsen, Gwion Edwards and Cole Skuse all returned to the Town starting XI with Matthew Pennington (ill), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh) and James Collins (calf) dropping out of the 18.
Knudsen, who was suspended last week following his red card at Wigan, started alongside skipper Luke Chambers at the centre of the defence, while Skuse joined Teddy Bishop and Jon Nolan in a three-man midfield. Up front, Alan Judge and Gwion Edwards began the game either side of Collin Quaner.
Flynn Downes was also missing from the squad, again due to illness, while Tristan Nydam was named in the 18 for the first time under Paul Lambert and young defender Corrie Ndaba also travelled.
West Brom made five changes from the team which lost 4-0 at Leeds last week with Kyle Bartley, summer Town target Conor Townsend, Stefan Johansen, Matt Phillips and Jacob Murphy all starting in place of Mason Holgate, Gareth Barry, Ahmed Hegazi, Hal Robson-Kanu and Rakeem Harper, with only the last of that list among the subs. The Baggies were skippered by ex-Blues loanee Jake Livermore.
Town, in their orange away kit, found themselves behind after less than four minutes. Knudsen fouled Dwight Gayle just outside the area after Myles Kenlock’s weak header into the striker’s path.
Norwegian international Johansen took the freekick, the ball struck Knudsen on the chest, wrong-footed Bartoz Bialkowski and nestled in the corner of the net.
Two minutes after conceding Town broke quickly from deep as they looked to get on terms. However, Quaner’s shot from an angle to the left was little problem for Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal.
Despite the blow of the early goal, the Blues began to dominate possession and threatened again in the eighth minute when an Edwards shot was blocked.
Moments later, following a corner, Chambers shot over from the edge of the box, then on 13 Judge shot wide after bringing the ball forward from deep.
Gayle curled a freekick just wide on 17, then four minutes later ex-Norwich City winger Murphy hit a low shot from the left which Bialkowski tipped past his post.
On 23 Gayle claimed a penalty when caught by Nolan but the midfielder had clearly won the ball prior to catching the on-loan Newcastle striker.
Two minutes later, Edwards curled over from distance, then in the 29th minute Bishop made a strong run from his own half before hitting a shot which deflected wide. From the corner, Chambers bundled wide at the far post.
As the half hour mark was passed the Blues began to play keep-ball inside the Baggies’ half but without finding a way through.
However, they weren’t too far away in the 32nd minute when Nolan played a clever ball over the top for for Quaner, who got behind the home offside trap. The German took it wide with his first touch but still managed to get in a decent effort which Johnstone saved at his near post with his toe. Soon after, Knudsen was booked for a foul on Jay Rodriguez.
Despite Town having much of the ball the home side continued to present the greater threat, particularly on the counter-attack. On 36 Gayle was fed when breaking into the left of the area but shot into the sidenetting.
As half-time approached West Brom started to see more and more of the ball and on 42 Bialkowski was forced into action again, getting down low to his left to palm a well-struck Murphy shot wide.
From the resultant corner, the Polish international made an even better stop, reacting quickly to stop and push away Tosin Adarabioyo’s header.
As the game moved into injury time, Johansen was booked for felling Bishop as he burst towards the area. Judge took the freekick but the ball struck the wall and flew over.
From the corner, the last action of the half, West Brom made heavy weather of clearing the ball and Chambers stabbed it back to Skuse, whose strike was blocked by Townsend as he slid in. The Town players claimed a penalty but although it may well have hit the full-back’s arm, it would have been very harsh for referee Andy Woolmer, who immediately blew the half-time whistle, to have awarded a spot-kick.
The half had been one which told the story of much of Town’s season, particularly since Lambert, who was back on the touchline following the completion of his two-match ban, took charge in October.
The Blues had seen a lot of the ball and had passed it around tidily but without showing enough of a threat in front of goal- Quaner’s effort from a tight angle was the best opportunity - while looking vulnerable at the other end.
The West Brom goal may have had an element of poor fortune about it from Town’s perspective, but again it came about initially due to a needless error, in this case by Kenlock, and Bialkowski had been the busier keeper, making three saves which wouldn’t have been out of place on his highlights reel from last season.
If Town can turn their possession into a goal then they could well take something from the game but as it stands West Brom appear the more likely scorers of the next goal and the Blues are unlikely to recover from being two goals down.
West Brom: Johnstone, Adarabioyo, Dawson, Bartley, Townsend, Phillips, Livermore (c), Johansen, Murphy, Gayle, Rodriguez. Subs: Bond, Brunt, Morrison, Field, Harper, Leko, Montero.
Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Skuse, Nolan, Bishop, Judge, Edwards, Quaner. Subs: Gerken, Jackson, Nydam, Nsiala, Dozzell, Emmanuel, Dawkins. Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).
Photo: Action Images
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