Ipswich Town 2-2 Blackpool - Match Report
Saturday, 23rd Nov 2019 17:16
Town’s post-international break blues continued after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by Blackpool. The Blues, who have now not won a league game after an international break for 22 matches stretching back to September 2014, went in front on eight via Gwion Edwards but the Tangerines levelled through Joe Nuttall on 22. Blackpool took the lead from a disputed penalty converted by Jay Spearing eight minutes after the restart but Luke Garbutt equalised for Town, also from the spot, on 58.
The Blues were without right-back Kane Vincent-Young, who was touch and go for the game following his recent groin operation, and striker James Norwood, who has also picked up a knock.
Will Norris returned in goal with Janoi Donacien making his first League One appearance since August at right-back. Luke Garbutt was at left-back with skipper Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden the centre-halves.
In midfield, Cole Skuse was joined by Flynn Downes and Jon Nolan, while Gwion Edwards and Danny Rowe were either side of lone central striker Kayden Jackson.
For Blackpool, who went into the game fifth in the table, Joe Nuttall replaced 12-goal top scorer Armand Gnanduillet, who was injured. Ex-Blues loanee Liam Feeney started and Town’s summer-of-2018 target Curtis Tilt was on the bench.
The Blues started brightly and went close in the third minute when Rowe, playing on the left of the front three, picked up a loose ball midway inside the Tangerines’ half and brought it into the box, cut on to his right foot but scuffed his shot wide.
Within a minute, Blackpool won a freekick five yards outside the Town area to the left. Sullay Kaikai hit a well-struck shot which Norris did well to save down to his right and push away from danger.
On six, Jackson played in on the right of the area and cut a cross towards Nolan but a defender’s toe took it away from the midfielder.
But Blues fans only had two more minutes to wait for a goal. Donacien sent over a deep, looping cross from the right and Garbutt headed it down to Jackson with his back to goal. The ball was stabbed away from the striker but straight to Edwards, who gleefully smashed his second goal of the season from a matter of feet.
However, Town’s lead lasted only 14 minutes with Blackpool having seen an increasing share of the ball.
Following a Blues corner and after Skuse, Downes and a Blackpool player had collided midway inside the visitors’ half - and with the Bristolian down having clearly been caught on the head by a boot - Blackpool broke quickly.
Calum MacDonald got round the outside of Chambers and sent over a cross, Nuttall’s header was blocked but the loose ball fell kindly for him and he smashed into the net to level.
On the touchline, Blues boss Paul Lambert and the Tangerines’ staff clashed, presumably due to Town annoyance that the referee hadn’t stopped the game due to the head injury. Skuse subsequently received treatment on the pitch before being able to continue.
The Blues began to see more of the ball and on 33, Edwards was teed-up inside the area but his shot was blocked. Skuse sprayed the ball back out to Jackson on the right but his effort from a tight angle flew high and wide.
Blackpool went closer a minute later when Feeney broke down the right. The former Town loanee’s first cross was superbly blocked by Chambers but he played the loose ball back in to Kaikai, who hit a powerfully-struck effort which Norris did well to bat away from goal and out for a corner.
Neither side seriously threatened again before the half-time whistle. After making a positive start and scoring the early goal, the Blues had never really controlled game and been unable to maintain that impetus.
Blackpool had started to get on top prior to their goal - even if Town might have had a legitimate claim that the referee should have stopped play - and had been a threat when breaking on either flank and had looked more likely to grab the game’s third goal.
As has often been the case this season, and as they have successfully managed to do on a number of occasions, the Blues needed to up their game in the second half.
Two minutes after the restart, Donacien tricked his way past his man on the right and sent over a deep cross which Edwards, by now on the right flank, headed against the back of a defender at the far post. The Welshman claimed it had struck a hand but referee Stephen Martin wasn’t interested.
On 49, a clever freekick from the Blues midway inside the Blackpool half saw Garbutt turn a cross to the far post but Woolfenden was just unable to direct his header back across goal and the ball went out.
Town had made a strong start to the second half but in the 52nd minute the visitors were awarded a penalty as they made their first attack since the break.
Kaikai took the ball beyond Chambers on the right of the area and, with the ball appearing on its way out of play, took a tumble. Much to the anger of the Blues players and support, referee Martin pointed to the spot on the advice of his assistant.
Keeper Norris ran over to the assistant to remonstrate but to no avail and subsequently Jay Spearing beat the on-loan Wolves man to his right from the spot, although only just, as boos rang around Portman Road.
Five minutes after the Blackpool penalty, the Blues were awarded one of their own. Following a Garbutt corner corner, a Tangerines player handled as Chambers challenged for the ball and referee Martin this time made his own decision.
Garbutt was handed the ball in regular taker Norwood’s absence, and with Jackson having missed at Fleetwood, and hit a low strike to visitors’ keeper Jak Alnwick’s right and into the corner of the net.
Both sides made changes as the game reached the 65-minute mark. The Lancastrians switched Matty Virtue for Oliver Turton and MacDonald for Callum Guy, both substitutions made in a very leisurely manner, and Town swapped Rowe for Anthony Georgiou.
Having got back on terms, Town and the home crowd were very much on the up. On 67 Woolfenden saw an effort blocked at the far post in the aftermath of a corner, by a hand according to the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, then moments later, the centre-half’s header was turned on towards goal by Jackson from the edge of the six-yard box but Spearing cleared off the line, although with the fans behind the goal feeling it had gone over.
Ryan Edwards was booked for a foul on Nolan as Town counter-attacked on 69 with the Blues in control of the game and passing the ball with far greater fluidity than in the first half.
On 73, Woolfenden, impressive at both ends of the field, cut in from the right and sent over a low ball which Jackson flicked to Alnwick at the near post.
Blackpool twice threatened from corners as the match moved towards its final 15 minutes, Norris claiming headers Ryan Edwards. But the Blues soon began to press again at the other end.
In the 84th minute, the visitors withdrew Kaikai for Jordan Thompson, then a minute later Town made a double change, Edwards and Downes making way for Alan Judge and Will Keane.
In the final minute of scheduled time, Spearing was book for a foul on Jackson as the striker burst towards the box. Blackpool repelled Garbutt’s ball into the area, then Judge’s subsequent cross.
But with the fourth official’s board indicating four additional minutes, the Blues kept up the pressure.
Sub Judge almost netted his second goal in four days when he flicked Nolan’s cross towards the corner of the net, but Alnwick did brilliantly to get across to his left to turn it past the post.
But despite the late pressure, the Blues were unable to find a winner and once again they had been unable to win their first league game after an international break.
Town were much better in the second half, although suffered the setback of the penalty which looked very much a spotkick won rather than conceded.
The Blues showed character to respond and win the penalty of their own and thereafter pressed for a third goal and were unlucky to have had Jackson’s effort cleared off the line.
The draw and Wycombe’s 1-0 last-gasp home win over Doncaster sees the Blues stay second but now five points behind the Chairboys, who are at Portman Road on Tuesday for a top-versus-second clash, the Buckinghamshire side’s first ever visit to Town.
Town: Norris, Donacien, Chambers (c), Woolfenden, Garbutt, Edwards (Judge 84), Skuse, Downes (Keane 84), Rowe (Georgiou 65), Nolan, Jackson. Unused: Holy, Dozzell, Huws, Wilson.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Edwards, Heneghan, Delfouneso, Spearing (c), Kaikai (thompson 84), Feeney, Virtue (Guy 65), Nuttall, Husband, MacDonald (Turton 65). Unused: Sims, Hardie, Scannell, Tilt. Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire). Att: 19,503 (Blackpool: 498).
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