|Ipswich Town 0 v 1 Oxford United|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 22nd February 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 0-1 Oxford United - Match Report
Saturday, 22nd Feb 2020 17:16
Matty Taylor’s goal a minute before the break saw Oxford United to 1-0 victory over 10-man Town at Portman Road. The Blues dominated the first half but were unable to find a goal and were hit by a sucker punch just before the break. The Blues huffed and puffed for the most part in the second half and had Kayden Jackson red-carded for an alleged stamp in injury time.
Town named an unchanged side with Tomas Holy in goal behind a back three of Luke Woolfenden, skipper Luke Chambers and Josh Earl, while Gwion Edwards and Luke Garbutt were the wing-backs.
In midfield, Flynn Downes was partnered by Jon Nolan with Alan Judge ahead of them behind strike pair Will Keane and Jackson.
There was one change on the bench with Andre Dozzell taking the place of James Norwood, who underwent a groin operation on Friday.
For Oxford, midfielder Alex Gorrin was back after a ban and replaced Mark Sykes, who dropped to the bench.
Town began the game brightly with Jackson, who was celebrating his 26th birthday, and Edwards both sending in crosses from the right.
The Blues controlled the early stages for the most part although twice Earl, playing without his protective mask for the first time since joining the Blues, gifted the ball to the U’s in his own half before his team-mates helped snuff out the danger.
On nine, Jackson escaped his man and broke away down the right before sending in a low cross which was too far in front of Keane.
Two minutes later, Jackson turned Edwards’s ball to feet into the path of Keane who looked to be in on goal until his first touch took him into the path of an Oxford defender, who cleared the danger.
The Blues continued to have the better of it with Oxford pinned back in their half and as the game reached the 15-minute mark Woolfenden struck a powerful 20-yard strike which was blocked just inside the area.
Town threatened again down the right in the 22nd minute, Jackson cutting a ball back to the edge of the area from where Garbutt smashed a shot over.
Two minutes later, Marcus Browne hit Oxford’s first effort of the game over the bar from a 25-yard freekick.
On the half hour a Judge corner from the left was nodded out to Chambers, whose header was flicked over the bar by a defender.
From the subsequent flag-kick, Nolan eventually stabbed the ball through to Keane in space inside the six-yard box to the left but Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood was able to smother.
Town continued to push for the game’s opening goal and in the 32nd minute Keane crossed low from the right and Downes flicked across the face of goal. Had the midfielder left it Garbutt behind him would have had an easy tap-in.
The Blues kept up the pressure and went close again in the 35th minute, Keane heading wide from a tight angle beyond the far post from Garbutt’s right-sided corner.
Oxford had made little impression from an attacking perspective but in the 36th minute James Henry broke into the area in space from the right but scuffed his shot through to Holy.
Town then attacked down the left, Jackson beating his man then teeing-up Garbutt, whose shot was blocked. Nathan Holland subsequently hit a shot which hit a Blues defender before Garbutt was booked for an attempted foul during Oxford’s previous attack. On 41 Nolan shot wide.
The Blues had dominated the half but a minute before the scheduled end of the half, the visitors took the lead.
A neatly-worked move ended with Cameron Brannagan finding Henry on the right of the area. His low ball across the edge of the six-yard box found Taylor, who beat Holy.
On the balance of play, Town could find themselves very unfortunate to be behind at the break. The Blues had dominated a team who usually control games themselves and had created a number of openings.
However, they had been unable to take them - or force Eastwood into any significant saves - while Oxford’s goal had come via their first passage of passing inside the Blues half.
Town won a corner moments after the restart, a bouncing ball reaching Woolfenden on the edge of the area after being half-cleared but the defender’s effort looped well over.
Soon after, Jackson was sent away on the left and his cross was diverted behind. From the subsequent corner taken by Garbutt on the left, Earl headed goalwards but Eastwood tipped over. From the resultant flag-kick, the ball was headed out to Judge, who shot over.
On 51 Oxford broke forward and Brannagan was found on the edge of the box but his strike was blocked by Woolfenden.
Two minutes later, Earl’s cross from the left took a flick off Josh Ruffels on its way towards the far post where it hit Edwards, who had been unable to react to the touch, and bounced straight to Eastwood.
Holland shot over after Woolfenden was overconfident on the ball in a dangerous area on 59, then two minutes later Taylor got in behind Chambers but fortunately for the Blues stabbed the ball straight at the advancing Holy.
Town were continuing to dominate with balls coming into the box from both flanks but with the Oxford backline remaining resolute. On 64 Browne was booked for a foul on Edwards.
Oxford swapped Holland, who had picked up a knock, for Sykes in the 70th minute, then the Blues, with their performance having become scrappier and more frustrated, switched Edwards for Teddy Bishop and moved to 4-4-2 with the sub on the left of midfield.
On 80 Jamie Mackie replaced goalscorer Taylor for the visitors, then three minutes later Dan Agyei took over from Henry.
Town were continuing to push and send balls into the box but the U’s were maintaining their determined defence.
As the game moved into four minutes of additional time Judge was switched for Freddie Sears.
Town’s frustrating afternoon got worse three minutes into injury time when Jackson was, to the surprise of most in the ground, shown a straight red card for what referee Scott Oldham indicated was a stamp on Oxford skipper Rob Dickie.
The striker looked bemused as the card was waved in his direction and the Blues may well have grounds for an appeal with Jackson otherwise facing a three-match ban.
Woolfenden was booked for a foul, then just before the whistle, with referee Oldham, who had had an inconsistent afternoon, starting to lose control, there was a scuffle involving most players from both teams by the corner flag by the away fans.
The final whistle was greeted by boos from the home support aimed partly towards the referee but also at manager Paul Lambert and his assistant Stuart Taylor as they made their way towards the Sir Bobby Robson Stand after another frustrating afternoon at Portman Road.
Town had dominated possession in the first half and created enough opportunities to have won the game. However, they failed to take their chances or even overly test the keeper. Oxford scored with their first serious shot in open play.
The Blues were still on top for most of the second half but were less dominant and still failed to create enough chances against an Oxford defence who will be delighted with their afternoon's work, Earl’s early header the only big save Eastwood was forced to make.
The defeat sees the Blues, who have now won just four of their last 18 in the league, drop to eighth, eight points off the top two and two from sixth, with a visit to Blackpool, who drew 0-0 at Wimbledon this afternoon, next Saturday.
Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Woolfenden, Earl, Edwards (Bishop 71), Nolan, Downes, Garbutt, Judge (Sears 90), Jackson, Keane. Unused: Norris, Skuse, Wilson, Dozzell, Huws.
Oxford: Eastwood, Ruffels, Dickie (c), Moore, Gorrin, Brannagan, Taylor (Mackie 80), Forde, Henry (Agyei 83), Holland (Sykes 70), Browne. Unused: Stevens, Long, Hanson, Thorne. Referee: Scott Oldham (Poulton-le-Fylde). Att:19,367 (Oxford: 1,365).
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