Ipswich Town 0-1 Fulham - Match Report
Wednesday, 16th Sep 2020 20:54
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 38th-minute goal was enough to see Premier League Fulham to a 1-0 win over the Blues at Portman Road and into round three of the Carabao Cup in which they will host Sheffield Wednesday. The Serbian headed home his 50th goal for the Cottagers from Kenny Tete’s excellent cross from the right and their victory was never under any serious threat.
Boss Paul Lambert made seven changes from the team which beat Wigan 2-0 on Sunday with striker Oli Hawkins among those coming into the team for his full Town debut.
David Cornell was in goal with Tomas Holy on the bench, while Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock were the full-backs with Stephen Ward dropping out of the 18 and Luke Chambers on the bench. At the heart of the defence, Toto Nsiala skippered alongside James Wilson.
In midfield, Emyr Huws joined Andre Dozzell and Jon Nolan with Teddy Bishop among the subs, as was Crystal Palace target Flynn Downes for the first time this season.
Armando Dobra and Gwion Edwards were the wide men in the front three on the left and right respectively with Freddie Sears and Alan Judge on the bench.
Hawkins was the central striker with Aaron Drinan among those currently suffering with knocks having suffered a thigh problem on Sunday. James Norwood was among the subs.
Fulham boss Scott Parker made nine changes from the team which lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal at the weekend with keeper Alphonse Areola, Tete, Mario Lemina and Antonee Robinson all making their debuts.
At an again empty and eerie Portman Road, the visitors could have scored in the opening minute. Neeskens Kabano got the better of Donacien on the Fulham right and cut back to one-time Town loan target Anthony Knockaert, who blazed over when he will feel he should have done better.
In the fifth minute, as Town started to see more of the ball, Hawkins headed a Donacien cross from the right wide following a free-kick, however with the linesman’s flag having already been raised.
On seven, debutant Tete, a recent signing from Lyon, broke forwards from right-back, cut in and hit a shot well over the bar.
A minute later, Bobby Decordova-Reid played a pass which sent Mitrovic in on goal on the edge of the box having escaped Kenlock but Wilson got back to put the ball behind for a corner.
There was further danger from the flag-kick, Frank Anguissa striking a powerful volley from the edge of the box not too far wide of the unmoving Cornell’s right post.
The Premier League side were seeing most of the ball and were passing it around slickly and with pace. Town were having spells of possession of their own and were also looking to use Hawkins’s height more directly, but chances were non-existent at both ends. The Cottagers were closest to working openings but with the Blues backline resolute.
Town created their first chance of the evening in the 27th minute when Edwards picked up a loose pass on halfway. Huws took it on before Edwards used his pace to break into the box and cut it back to Hawkins who stabbed wide at the near post under pressure from a defender.
Despite having the lion’s share of the possession, Fulham were rarely threatening, however, on 35 Knockaert shot over from the edge of the box, the ball scuffing the top of the net.
And the visitors had only another three minutes to wait for a goal. Maxi Le Marchand played Fulham out of a tight area on their left in their own half with an excellent cross-field pass to Tete. The Dutch international broke quickly down the right and sent in a superb cross and Mitrovic, on his 26th birthday, planted a header past Cornell, who was given no chance.
There was a further scare for the Blues a minute in the 44th minute when Nsiala flicked a header back towards Cornell appearing to believe the linesman’s flag would be raised and when none was forthcoming Mitrovic seized upon the ball but Cornell was out quickly to block.
In one minute of additional time, Hawkins nodded the ball down and it fell fortuitously for Huws 30 yards out and the Welshman struck a mis-hit shot which screwed well away from goal.
The half had gone much as might have been expected. The top flight visitors had seen most of the ball and passed it around with confidence.
However, after coming close in the opening minute, hadn’t troubled Cornell until Mitrovic’s goal which was brilliantly created by Tete, who was making an impressive debut.
The Blues had had spells on the ball themselves, as well as going more direct than usual with Hawkins in the side, but had been unable to carve out any opportunities other than the former Portsmouth man’s stab wide and Huws’s late shot.
On the balance of the first half, a second Fulham goal after the break would almost certainly be enough to end Town’s hopes of progression to round three.
Six minutes after the restart, Robinson was fed in on the overlap down the left and sent a low ball across the edge of the six-yard box but with no one able to get in a vital final touch.
On 54 Huws sent over a dangerous ball from the Town left which Hawkins was unable to direct goalwards as he broke into the box with Edwards behind him perhaps having a clearer opportunity to head at goal had it reached him.
Town swapped Dozzell for Downes, making his first appearance of the season, in the 58th minute, the subbed player being rested ahead of Saturday’s League One trip to Bristol Rovers.
Moments later, Cornell was forced into an excellent double save, first stopping Mitrovic’s header from a cross from the right, then saving Decordova-Reid’s powerfully struck rebound while grounded.
As the game moved beyond the hour mark the Blues were seeing a lot of the ball but not in dangerous areas with Fulham, who had introduced Tom Cairney for Mario Lemina on 63, looking comfortable.
Town switched Hawkins, who had a decent enough full debut considering the quality of the opposition and his lack of match time, and Nolan for Norwood and Judge in the 69th minute, while the Whites replaced Anguissa with Harrison Reed.
Cornell saved Cairney’s well-struck curling 25-yarder on 70 with the visitors still creating all the game’s chances.
However, a minute later, Huws sent Donacien away on the right with Norwood and Dobra down the middle but the former Accrington man’s cross was cut out.
On 77 Kebano struck a free-kick powerfully but over, before the excellent Tete was replaced by two-goal play-off final hero Joe Bryan.
In the first of two minutes of injury time, Edwards broke away down the left and hit a low cross with the outside of his right boot which was too close to Areola, who claimed low down.
Town kept going and never looked in any danger of falloing to a heavy defeat but Fulham always seemed in control and able to step up a gear if they had needed to.
Having secured the lead through Mitrovic in the first half, the Cottagers comfortably played out the second period with Town never able to put keeper Areola under any serious threat.
The Blues, who last beat a Premier League side when they defeated Arsenal 1-0 in the semi-final first leg in 2011, miss out on an appearance in the competition’s third round for the first time since 2015.
Town are next in League One action at Bristol Rovers, who they beat 3-0 in the first round of the Carabao Cup 11 days ago. on Saturday afternoon.
Town: Cornell, Donacien, Nsiala (c), Wilson, Kenlock, Nolan (Judge 69), Dozzell (Downes 58), Huws, Dobra, Hawkins (Norwood 69), Edwards. Unused: Holy, Chambers, Bishop, Sears.
Fulham: Areola, Tete (Bryan 81), Odoi, Kebano, Mitrovic (c), Knockaert, De Cordova-Reid, Lemina (Cairney 63), Le Merchand, Anguissa (Reed 69), Robinson. Unused: Fabri, Hector, Francois, Cavaleiro. Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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