West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 9th Mar 2019 17:08
Jon Nolan’s 48th minute header saw Town to a 1-1 draw at West Brom, the hosts having taken the lead via Stefan Johansen’s deflected fourth-minute freekick. Town will feel they should have claimed all three points having been on top throughout the second half and having had chances to claim their second away victory of the campaign.
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 Johansen 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 goa l- 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.
But Town had been by no means outclassed by one of the division’s best squads and if they could turn their possession into a goal then they were in with a decent chance of taking something from the game.
The Blues swapped Quaner, who had picked up a knock, for Kayden Jackson ahead of the start of the second half.
Soon after the restart Gayle shot wide from a freekick, Edwards picking up a yellow card for the foul, but in the 48th minute the Blues levelled.
Judge’s cross was blocked but deflected out to James Bree, whose deep ball in from the right found Nolan, who nodded past Johnstone and just inside the post for his third goal of the season.
Town, confidence boosted by the goal, continued to take the game to the visitors and soon after sub Jackson crossed low from the right but just failed to find Nolan on the edge of the box.
In the 54th minute Judge failed to find Jackson with a clever ball into his path inside the box and the Baggies broke. The Blues found themselves short of numbers at the back and Gayle was one-on-one with Chambers but shot over when he ought to have done better.
There was a scare for the home side in the 59th minute when the ball got caught under Craig Dawson’s feet and his poor back-pass almost allowed Jackson a run in on goal but Johnstone was out quickly to clear.
Judge walloped a dipping effort from distance over the bar in the 62nd minute, prior to the Baggies swapping Phillips for Jonathan Leko.
Bialkowski made another superb save in the 64th minute, showing very sharp reactions to get a hand to Gayle’s effort from close range after Rodriguez had nodded on a corner from the left.
It was Town’s turn to come close next in an increasingly open game. Kenlock sent sub Jackson away on the left and the former Accrington man cut in and hit a shot which Johnstone blocked.
The Blues continued to look the more dangerous side and the fans behind the goal were becoming ever more confident as their team won a number of corners.
On 69 Murphy was booked for felling the breaking Edwards, before James Morrison took over from Johansen for West Brom and Simon Dawkins replaced Bishop for Town.
Nolan, looking more and more comfortable at Championship level, scuffed wide from distance on 77 after good work from Judge with the game evenly balanced, making a mockery of the positional gulf between the teams.
Town should have gone in front in the 79th minute when Kenlock played in Jackson. But the ball got caught under the striker’s feet and his eventual effort on the turn was saved. The Blues quickly threatened again but this time Jackson shot across the face of goal from a tight angle on the right.
Dawkins shot over from just outside the area after a Judge corner had been cleared on 82, then four minutes later West Brom swapped Adarabioyo for Sam Field, who was immediately booked for a mistimed and painful-looking foul on Jackson.
From the freekick Johnstone was able to claim Knudsen’s nod back into the box, then at the other end Albion sub Jonathan Leko shot over.
As the game moved into four additional minutes, Morrison was booked for a foul on Judge, the Irishman wasting the freekick.
And that was the final action of an entertaining game with the Blues deserving more than just the single point on the strength of their second half display, certainly their most accomplished 45 minutes of the season.
There had been little sign that one team is fourth and Town are bottom with the home side increasingly ragged the longer the game went on.
The Blues had chances to claim all three points and sub Jackson, who made an impact with his pace in the second half, will feel he ought to have taken at least one of his opportunities.
Overall, a positive performance, in front of an impressive and noisy 1,246 away following, if again not quite the result it deserved but too late with the gap to safety remaining 12 points with only 10 matches left to play, starting at Bristol City on Tuesday.
West Brom: Johnstone, Adarabioyo (Field 86), Dawson, Bartley, Townsend, Phillips (Leko 63), Livermore (c), Johansen (Morrison 71), Murphy, Gayle, Rodriguez. Unused: Bond, Brunt, Harper, Montero.
Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Skuse, Nolan, Bishop (Dawkins 72), Judge, Edwards, Quaner (Jackson 46). Unused: Gerken, Nydam, Nsiala, Dozzell, Emmanuel. Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire). Att: 23,973 (Town: 1,246).
Photo: Action Images
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