|Ipswich Town 1 v 0 Crewe Alexandra|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 31st October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 1-0 Crewe Alexandra - Match Report
Saturday, 31st Oct 2020 17:05
Oli Hawkins’s first Town goal saw the Blues to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra at Portman Road and up to second in the League One table. The visitors will count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the game having been on top for long spells and having had the better opportunities prior to Hawkins’s 62nd-minute header.
Town boss Paul Lambert has made one change with Alan Judge replacing Jack Lankester in the advanced midfield role.
Lankester started the previous two games following his lengthy injury absence so it was little surprise that the youngster dropped to the bench, replacing Armando Dobra.
Judge returned having missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury, while Kayden Jackson was back among the subs having recovered from Covid-19. For Crewe, Tom Lowery came into the midfield for Luke Murphy.
With rain falling heavily as it had done in the hours up to the game, neither side threatened in the opening minutes.
On six, a dangerous Harry Pickering free-kick from the Crewe left was headed off Tomas Holy by Luke Offord and Town broke quickly. Judge played an excellent cross-field pass for Sears, however, the former West Ham man’s first touch was too heavy and Alex keeper Will Jaaskelainen claimed.
The visitors were seeing more of the ball in the early stages and Holy was forced to save down to his right in the 14th minute when Owen Dale hit a low shot from the right of the box fizzing across the slick surface.
There was a scare for the Blues in the 20th minute when Dozzell gave away possession with a wayward pass and the Railwaymen broke away three against two into the Town half. The Blues got men back quickly, however, and Judge slid in to make a challenge on the edge of the area and the danger was cleared.
A minute later, Crewe skipper Perry Ng beat Mark McGuinness on the edge of the box but failed to trouble Holy with his low shot.
Penalty area action at the other end of the field was non-existent until the 23rd minute when a Ward ball in from the left was diverted behind ahead of Hawkins by Offord. The corner was cleared to the edge of the box from where Dozzell hit a shot against a defender.
The Blues had started to see more of the ball and in the 28th minute Edwards struck an effort from distance which flew well past Jaaskelainen’s right post.
But a minute later the Alex should have been in front. Following a well-worked move, Pickering floated a cross from the edge of the area on the left to the far post from where Dale knocked it down to Lowery five yards out. The midfielder seemed certain to score until Holy blocked superbly.
The Railwaymen, who had passed the ball around with far greater confidence than Town throughout the half, threatened again in the 32nd minute when Ng sent over a low cross from the right but too far in front of Mikael Mandron and Holy claimed.
Town were next to create an opportunity. Edwards sent over a cross from the right which reached Sears at the far post but the ball struck the ex-Colchester man, who had presumably been unsighted, and bounced wide.
The Blues could count themselves fortunate to be on terms at the break with the visitors having had much the better of the half and the period’s one outstanding chance. While Holy read the situation brilliantly and made a terrific stop, Lowery will feel he really should have taken the opportunity.
Town had been out-passed by the fluent Railwaymen with Jaaskelainen still to be tested as he made his way off at the break.
Following a half-time downpour of biblical proportions, the Blues returned with the same XI despite the disappointing first period.
Town began the second half positively with Dozzell hitting a shot which deflected over in the 48th minute.
Three minutes later, Bishop broke down the left and sent a dangerous ball across the Crewe six-yard box but with no one there to add the final touch.
But the Railwaymen continued to look a danger. On 56, after Dozzell had been yellow-carded for dissent, a free-kick from midway inside the Town half was floated to the far post and Mandron nodded across the box but beyond his team-mates.
Almost immediately at the other end, Ward crossed from the left and Hawkins did well to get ahead of his man to head goalwards but Jaaskelainen was able to claim.
However, the former Pompey man didn’t have to wait too much longer for his first goal for the Blues.
In the 62nd minute, Judge played a short corner on the left to Ward, the left-back stopped the ball for the former Brentford man, who curled in a cross which Hawkins nodded past Jaaskelainen from six yards.
Crewe could count themselves unfortunate to be behind on the balance of the game, although the Blues had begun to look a little more dangerous.
Judge was booked for a foul on Lowery in the 66th minute with the Town players having shown their frustration towards referee Trevor Kettle shortly beforehand after he failed to penalise a Crewe player for a late challenge on Hawkins.
The visitors went close to getting on terms twice in the 68th minute. First, Holy saved from Lowery at his near post on the right then, following the corner, Offord nodded goalwards but the Czech got down and across well to save.
Town swapped goalscorer Hawkins for the pace of Jackson, making his first appearance since his Covid-19 absence, in the 69th minute, then two minutes later, after a Bishop shot had been saved down to his right by Jaaskelainen, the Alex switched Mandron and Dale for Chris Porter and Daniel Powell.
The Blues were finding themselves under some pressure from the visitors, last season’s League Two title winners, with a number of efforts from the edge of the box blocked by Town defenders.
Skipper Luke Chambers made his frustrations with his team-mates known after Ryan Wintle had hit a low shot which Holy claimed confidently. In the 80th minute Lankester took over from Bishop.
Crewe replaced Callum Ainley with Oliver Finney in the 82nd minute and two minutes later Town introduced Keanan Bennetts for Sears.
On 86 Jackson was cautioned for time-wasting as the Railwaymen prepared to take a free-kick, then Edwards joined him in the book for a foul two minutes later.
The visitors continued to pile the pressure on in five additional minutes in which sub Porter nodded a dangerous ball in from the left high and wide but the Blues were able to hang on and claim their fifth home win of the season.
It was far from a vintage Town display with the Alex unlucky not to take all three points let alone a point from the game.
The visitors certainly had the better of the first half and created most of its chances and, having got their lead via a well-worked set piece and Hawkins’s header, the Blues were forced to dig in to see out the game and secure their three points.
The Blues’ 100 per cent home record in League One continues and they are still to concede a goal at Portman Road.
The win moves Town up to second, behind new leaders Peterborough United, who beat Shrewsbury 5-1, on goal difference and similarly ahead of Lincoln, beaten 1-0 at Doncaster, in third.
The Blues are next in action at sixth-placed Sunderland, who won 2-0 at Gillingham, on Tuesday evening.
Town: Holy, Chambers (c), McGuinness, Woolfenden, Ward, Dozzell, Bishop (Lankester 80), Judge, Edwards, Sears (Bennetts 84), Hawkins (Jackson 69). Unused: Cornell, Nsiala, Kenlock, Huws.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng (c), Pickering, Wintle, Lowery, Kirk, Ainley (Finney 82), Mandron (Porter 71), Offord, Dale (Powell 71), Beckles. Unused: Richards, Zanzala, Johnson, Murphy. Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).
Photo: Matchday Images
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