Ipswich Town 0-1 Fleetwood Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 3rd Mar 2020 21:55
Sub Ched Evans’s goal five minutes before half-time saw Fleetwood Town to a 1-0 victory over dismal Town on their first ever visit to Portman Road. The Blues were woeful in the first half but improved a little after the break but still rarely looked like equalising on a bleak and fractious night.
Brett McGavin was handed his league debut and Andre Dozzell returned to the side for the first time in two months as Paul Lambert made six changes.
McGavin was in the deeper midfield role behind Dozzell, whose last first-team game was the Leasing.com Trophy tie at Exeter at the start of January, alongside Jon Nolan, with Cole Skuse and Emyr Huws, starters during the 2-1 defeat at Blackpool on Saturday, missing due to a gash on the shin and a toe injury respectively.
Tomas Holy continued in goal with the Blues returning to a back three with - from the right - James Wilson, skipper Luke Chambers and Josh Earl the centre-halves. Janoi Donacien and Luke Garbutt were the wing-backs. Will Keane was up front with Alan Judge set to play off him.
Teddy Bishop and Freddie Sears were among the subs, having made their first starts of the season at Bloomfield Road, as were young duo Tyreece Simpson and Armando Dobra.
Flynn Downes missed the first game of his two-match ban for reaching 10 bookings and Kayden Jackson the second of his three-game suspension.
Fleetwood, at Portman Road for the first time in their history with manager Joey Barton in the stands serving a touchline ban, named an unchanged team from last week’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland.
Neither side threatened in the early stages with Fleetwood seeing most of the ball but without threatening. On 15 Paddy Madden shot well wide from the left of the area.
Moments later former Town loanee Callum Connolly was switched for Evans, back from suspension, the on-loan Everton man having been on the sidelines having a nosebleed attended to for the previous few minutes.
Chances continued to be non-existent at both ends with Fleetwood having most of the possession but without threatening and the Blues struggling to get on the ball. In their rare spells with it there were one or two neat interchanges involving Dozzell, McGavin and Judge but without getting near to creating an opportunity.
On 28 the visitors weren’t too far from opening the scoring in slightly fortunate circumstances when Barrie McKay was found in space on the left and his cross was diverted off the outside of the near post by Chambers from six yards.
Despite their possession, Fleetwood had threatened very little but in the 40th minute they went in front. McKay played in sub Evans who took it on in to the area on the left before hitting a shot beyond Chambers’ dive, across Holy and into the net.
The Fleetwood goal prompted boos from the previously sullen Town crowd, followed by chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ aimed towards manager Lambert and ‘Marcus Evans, get out of our club’.
Fleetwood taking the lead seemed to wake the Blues up, Dozzell playing in Donacien on the right of the box but the right wing-back’s low cross was blocked.
In injury time, McGavin and Dozzell cleverly combined to find Keane in the penalty spot following a corner but the striker was crowded out before he could get in a shot.
The half-time whistle was greeted by more boos after a woeful first period from the much-changed powderpuff Blues.
Town, looking utterly bereft of confidence and dynamism, had struggled to get hold of the ball throughout the half with Fleetwood dominating possession although to little effect until their goal five minutes before the break.
It was little surprise that there was a change at the break after such a lacklustre half with Sears replacing league debutant McGavin with Judge moving back to the right of a midfield four with Garbutt pushing forward on the left.
The former West Ham man quickly got into the action, hitting a shot from the right of the box which was deflected over the bar after a well-worked passage of play down the right following a cleared freekick.
Town were looking a more threatening prospect in the opening minutes of the second half - although that wasn’t difficult given the pedestrian first period - with Sears making runs into channels and drawing one or two freekicks.
At the other end on 55 Lewie Coyle hit a low 30-yard shot in the aftermath of a corner which was straight at Holy.
As the game passed the hour mark Simpson was handed his home debut in place of Keane, who had had a tough evening with Fleetwood’s man mountain centre-half Harry Souttar having won everything in the air, something noted by the Town support in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
The Blues twice went within a whisker of levelling in the 63rd minute after Simpson had won a freekick on the left. Judge’s ball in from the left flicked off somebody and looked goalbound until it was cleared off the line by Coyle. The loose ball ran to Nolan, whose low shot was saved on the line by Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns, his first stop of the game.
On 68 Danny Andrew shot through to Holy, then two minutes later Madden was booked for a foul on Earl.
Aside from the double chance, Town hadn’t seriously threatened and on 74 Bishop took over from Nolan.
Simpson, who signed his first pro deal with the Blues yesterday, wasn’t too far away from his first Town goal in the 83rd minute when he shot on the turn from a Sears cross from the right but his effort was too close to Cairns who palmed behind.
Town continued to look for a leveller as the game moved into its final scheduled minutes but with there being little sign that they would get back on terms.
Chants of ‘We want Evans out, we want Evans out’ rang round the Sir Bobby Robson Stand with the owner watching from the East of England Co-op Stand as the game entered five minutes of additional time.
Deep in injury time, Judge shot over after a freekick from the right had reached him at the far post as the chants aimed at owner Evans increased in volume.
The final whistle brought more boos and ended yet another depressing evening for the long-suffering Blues faithful with chants of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ erupting and the players and staff being roundly booed as they approached and applauded the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
While Fleetwood, followed by 88 delighted fans, fully deserved their victory against a Town side which was simply not good enough to beat them on the night, a 1-0 defeat to a club which has spent most of its history well down the non-league ladder puts Town’s predicament into very sharp focus.
Fans brought up on the teams of Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Robson and George Burley can’t ever have expected to see their side to lose and perform so poorly in a League One game against such historically lowly opposition.
Town, who have now lost six of their last eight and have won only four of their last 20 in the league, now look to be outsiders for even a place in the play-offs - they are six points behind tonight’s opponents who are now sixth with two games in hand on the Blues - having been top and looking to be cruising in November and after climbing back to the summit again in January.
Leaders Coventry, impressive as they won at Portman Road in the FA Cup in January, are next in Suffolk on Saturday.
Town: Holy, Donacien, Earl, Chambers (c), Wilson, Nolan (Bishop 74), Judge, Dozzell, Garbutt, McGavin (Sears 46), Keane (Simpson 61). Unused: Norris, Edwards, Woolfenden, Dobra.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Andrew, Connolly (Evans 16), Souttar, Burns, Whelan, Coutts (c), Madden, Gibson, McKay (Sowerby 73). Unused: Crellin, Morris, Thervaldsson, Saunders, Holgate. Referee: Neil Hair (Cambridgeshire). Att: 15,678 (Fleetwood: 88).
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