|Ipswich Town 0 v 2 Portsmouth|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 12th December 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 0-2 Portsmouth - Match Report
Saturday, 12th Dec 2020 16:58
Town fans had a disappointing return to Portman Road as two first-half Ryan Williams goals saw Portsmouth to a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Blues, who are still to beat anyone in League One’s top nine this season. Williams, who hadn’t scored previously this season, gave his side the lead on 29 and added the second a minute before the break and Pompey could well have extended their lead in a second half in which they struck the woodwork twice.
Town boss Paul Lambert made one change with Andre Dozzell returning in the three-man central midfield, alongside Jon Nolan with Alan Judge ahead of them, having missed last week’s 2-1 win at Plymouth as he was suspended having reached five bookings.
Brett McGavin dropped to the bench, while striker Aaron Drinan was also among the subs having recovered from his hamstring injury.
Portsmouth were unchanged from the team which beat Peterborough 2-0 at Fratton Park on League One last weekend with winger Michael Jacobs back from a knee injury and on the bench alongside ex-Town striker Ellis Harrison.
Fans were back at Portman Road, dotted around the stands aside from the Sir Bobby, for the first time since March with the game watched by 2,000 season ticket holders allocated their tickets via the ballot.
For the first time in 280 days the Blues players were cheered on to the pitch as they made their way from the tunnel.
Prior to the whistle both teams took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter to warm applause from the Town support.
Even with such a relatively small crowd the game seemed to have greater intensity virtually from the off.
The first serious action came in the eighth minute when Town lone striker Kayden Jackson chased a ball down the right into the area. Keeper Craig Macgillivray came off his line and the two reached the ball at the same time and the ball went out of play.
Jackson and the Blues fans made an ambitious penalty claim but referee Thomas Bramall opted to award a free-kick against Town, which seemed third in his list of possible decisions.
A minute later, Blues keeper Dai Cornell was forced into the game’s first big save, the Welshman getting down and across to his left to push John Marquis’s low curling shot from just outside the area wide.
Pompey were presenting the greater threat in the opening minutes, forcing Town into regular mistakes as they tried to pass out from the back and winning a number of corners which the Blues managed to repel.
On 16 Ronan Curtis, a scorer in the last two matches between the sides, was very fortunate to escape a booking for sliding in on Jackson well after the ball had gone, much to the annoyance of the Blues’ support. Two minutes later the Irishman fouled Dozzell on halfway and again managed to keep out of referee Bramall’s book.
Curtis might have made it three in three against Town on 22 when Marcus Harness out-battled Mark McGuinness on the edge of the area. The former Burton Albion man fed Curtis in space but the one-time Derry City man screwed his shot well over.
Town were next to threaten in the 25th minute. Dobra, playing wide on the right for Town with Jack Lankester on the left, tricked his way into the box from a Jackson pass before hitting a shot across Macgillivray which the keeper blocked with his feet.
But four minutes later, Pompey took the lead. Harness crossed from the right, Marquis, in acres of space, tapped back first time to Ryan Williams and the Australian international slammed his first goal of the season into the roof of the net. It was a very poor goal to concede from Town’s perspective if well-worked and neat from the visitors’.
Town suffered a further blow in the 33rd minute when Jon Nolan was forced off with an injury and McGavin took over alongside Dozzell in the deeper-lying midfield roles. Nolan was playing only his third game after returning from a groin problem.
Pompey probably should have made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when Lee Brown cut back from the left and skipper Tom Naylor shot wide as he broke unchecked to the edge of the box when he should at least have hit the target.
Two minutes later, Blues skipper Luke Chambers headed weakly through to Macgillivray following a Ward cross from the left.
Town, with Dobra having moved into the middle and Judge to the right, were starting to see a lot of the ball and in the 41st minute Alan Judge cut in from the left and hit a shot which Macgillivray was forced to punch away.
In the final scheduled minute of the half, Pompey doubled their lead. The ball was crossed from the right, Curtis nodded back into the box and Williams turned home his second of the afternoon and the campaign unchallenged.
The former Rotherham man had never previously scored twice in a match before, let alone twice in one half.
Portman Road rang with boos only 45 minutes after fans’ had made return following nine months away with the Blues appearing set for their third successive home defeat at the half-time whistle.
Pompey’s goals had both looked all too easy and they might well have had a third had Naylor hit the target.
At the other end, as has been a familiar story, Town had had a lot of possession but had rarely threatened with Dobra’s direct running with the ball into the box having presented their biggest danger and their one real chance.
Town began the second half looking to repeat their FA Cup comeback against Pompey when they came from two goals down to level at 2-2, only to unluckily lose 3-2 in extra-time.
Pompey should have made it 3-0 in the 48th minute when goalscorer Williams crossed from the right and Marquis, again completely unmarked, headed wide when he really should have found the corner of the net.
Andy Cannon shot well over from distance on 53 with the visitors starting the half the stronger with Town looking deflated.
Marquis was inches away from making it three in the 56th minute when his header from Curtis’s free-kick on the left slammed against the bar and away with Cornell having badly misjudged it.
A minute later at the other end, Jackson looked to run on to a Ward through ball but a defender’s toe put it behind.
Following the corner a Dobra shot was blocked on the edge of the box, then Pompey make a promising break but Curtis was unable to find Marquis with a pass. On 59 Portsmouth swapped Brown, who had picked up a knock for Cameron Pring.
Town had shown few signs of getting back into the game so on 63 manager Lambert made a double change with Judge and Jackson making way for Keanan Bennetts and Aaron Drinan. The decision to stick with one up front was loudly booed.
A minute later Portsmouth again came close to their third of the game, Curtis hitting a shot from distance which stuck Cornell’s cross bar for a second time.
On 67 only a brilliant Cornell save kept the score at 2-0. Pring sent over a free-kick from deep on the left and Sean Raggett, the scorer of the controversial winner in the cup tie, headed goalwards only for the Blues keeper to get down to his right to palm it past the post.
Curtis was shown the game’s first yellow card in the 70th minute for a late tackle on Lankester, who joined him in the book for his unimpressed reaction. Having been cautioned, Lankester was immediately replaced by ex-Pompey man Oli Hawkins as the Blues finally moved to two strikers.
Moments later, McGuinness became the second Town played to be booked for a foul on Marquis on halfway. On 74 McGavin had his name added for a foul on Harness as Portsmouth looked to break following a rare Town attack, then five minutes later Raggett joined them for stopping Cornell from kicking the ball out.
Pompey had dominated the second half with the Blues first attempt at goal in the second half not coming until the 84th minute when McGuinness headed over from a corner. Jacobs replaced Curtis as the game moved into its final four minutes, then Jack Whatmough was booked for a foul on Bennetts.
The final whistle was again greeted by boos from the returning 2,000 plus shouts of 'Lambert out' aimed at the Blues boss as he made his way towards the tunnel, while skipper Chambers and the players’ applause to the fans as they made their way off was reciprocated.
The Blues had once again been made to look very much second best against one of the division’s better sides, as was the case against Hull and Charlton in the previous two home matches which also ended in defeats.
Town are still to beat anyone currently in the top nine and will have to be very much better than this if they are to defeat any of the other sides challenging at the top of the table.
Having secured their 2-0 lead in the first half, Pompey really should have extended it by one or two more in the second half with the woodwork hit twice, Marquis missing a sitter and Cornell making one terrific save.
Town looked short of ideas and short of confidence once they’d gone two down and a second-half comeback never looked even a remote possibility. Their only serious chance of the game and the only save Macgillivray made all afternoon was from Dobra in the first half.
Goals continue to be a significant worry with the two at Plymouth - both netted after the Pilgrims had been reduced to 10 men - the only two scored in the last five matches.
The Blues drop to sixth, although with three of the four sides directly below them having played fewer games.
Burton Albion are the visitors to Portman Road on Tuesday before a trip to another of the top sides Peterborough, currently fourth, next Saturday.
Town: Cornell, Chambers (c), Woolfenden, McGuinness, Ward, Dozzell, Nolan (McGavin 33), Dobra, Lankester (Hawkins 70), Judge (Bennetts 63), Jackson (Drinan 63). Unused: Holy, Nsiala, Kenlock.
Portsmouth: Macgillivray, Johnson, Brown (Pring 59), Naylor (c), Whatmough, Williams, Marquis, Curtis (Jacobs 86), Cannon, Harness, Raggett. Unused: Bass, Close, Harrison, Nicolaisen, Hiwula. Referee: Thomas Bramall (Sheffield).
Photo: Matchday Images
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