Ipswich Town 2-0 Blackpool - Match Report
Saturday, 6th Feb 2021 17:11
Goals either side of half-time from Alan Judge and Luke Woolfenden saw the Blues to a what was ultimately a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Blackpool. Judge stuck from 20 yards on 43, then Woolfenden added a second with a close-range header four minutes into the second half and the Blues really should have won more convincingly with a number of subsequent chances spurned.
Skipper Luke Chambers and five-goal joint-top scorer Gwion Edwards dropped to the bench as manager Paul Lambert handed debuts to new loan signings Luke Matheson and Troy Parrott from the start.
Chambers, previously the Blues’ only ever-present in the league this season, last missed a game for which he was available in August 2019 when squad rotation saw him among the subs for the 2-1 home win against AFC Wimbledon.
The captain joined Edwards, Stephen Ward, who was also a sub for last week’s 1-1 at Crewe, on the bench with Matheson making his debut at right-back and Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness the centre-halves. Myles Kenlock, at 24 the senior man in a back four with an average age of 21, continued at left-back, with Tomas Holy again in goal.
In midfield, Flynn Downes wore the captain’s armband with Andre Dozzell more advanced than usual and Judge ahead of him.
Freddie Sears moved to the left of the front three having started in the middle last week with Parrott the central striker and Luke Thomas on the right.
Josh Harrop was in a Town 18 for the first time having completed his 10-day self-isolation following his positive Covid-19 test which came soon after his loan move from Preston.
For Blackpool, ex-Town midfielder Grant Ward and ex-loanee Luke Garbutt were both on the bench having recently been out with injuries, while striker Gary Madine missed out on a place in the 18 due to a groin problem.
The Tangerines made one change from the team which beat Northampton 2-0 at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday with new loan signing Elliot Embleton, who came on as a sub for Sunderland in Town’s previous home match, coming in for Ellis Simms.
After the two teams and the officials had taken a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, Blackpool won an early free-kick from deep on the left which McGuinness cleared.
Rain was falling steadily, having been heavier in the hours up to the match, with an area of the pitch in front of the East of England Co-op Stand already starting to look waterlogged.
As the 10-minute mark approached the Blues briefly began to dominate possession with Parrott looking to make runs in behind the Blackpool defence. On nine Matheson sent over a cross from the right but was unable to pick out a team-mate.
In the 12th minute Woolfenden found Kenlock with a cross-field ball and the left-back fed Judge as he broke into the area and the Irishman hit a shot which Seasiders’ keeper and skipper Chris Maxwell palmed into the side-netting.
Blackpool began to see more of the ball and in the 16th minute Marvin Ekpiteta headed a free-kick from the left not too far wide wide at the back post. Six minutes later, Kenlock was shown the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Jordan Gabriel.
The visitors were winning a lot of free-kicks midway inside the Town half on both flanks. From one of them in the 26th minute Sullay Kaikai looped a ball from the left towards the near post and James Husband diverted it well wide with his shoulder as he looked to add a flick which would have caused Holy in the Town goal significant problems.
Jordan Thorniley shot not too far wide from a corner in the 32nd minute, then two minutes later the Blues had their best opportunity of the half up to then.
Thomas should have seriously tested Maxwell when the ball was played low to him on the edge of the box as he broke forward on the right but the on-loan Barnsley man’s scuffed effort bobbled wide.
A minute later, Holy batted away Embleton’s 20-yard drive, then in the 39th minute the Blues had the ball in the net but with the linesman raising his flag. Parrott, who had had a lively half, played in Sears, who took the ball wide of the advancing Maxwell before slipping it home. Video evidence suggested the former Colchester man might have been onside.
On 43 McGuinness cut out a Kaikai through ball which would have seen two visiting players through on goal and immediately Town broke up the other end and went in front.
Kenlock found Judge in space on the right with a cross-field pass and the Irishman brought the ball forward and rather than looking to pass to Parrott inside to his left struck a low 20-yard shot across the wet turf past Maxwell and into the net for his second goal of the season.
Just before the whistle, Kenneth Dougall screwed an effort well wide for the visitors, who could count themselves a little unlucky to be behind at the break.
The Blues had had spells on top but Maxwell hadn’t been significantly threatened prior to Judge’s goal, while the Seasiders had had the better of the game’s opportunities, albeit with Holy only forced into one save.
A rare half-time home lead for the Blues, only the second this season, the other the opening league match against Wigan, and coincidentally their first anywhere since the game at Blackpool in October.
Town started the second half brightly and in the 48th minute Dozzell worked his way into the box via a one-two and fed Sears to his right, the striker hitting a shot which Maxwell palmed into the air and over.
And from the corner, the Blues doubled their lead. Dozzell’s flag-kick from the right was unwittingly flicked on by a Blackpool defender and Woolfenden nodded home from a matter of inches at the far post, the defender’s first goal of the season and the second of his Town career.
Town should have made it 3-0 in the 56th minute when Judge’s corner from the left skimmed of McGuinness’s head when the on-loan Arsenal man looked set to score and the ball then flashed past Woolfenden at the far post.
Tangerines keeper Maxwell was sent off at Portman Road for taking out Kayden Jackson having come well out of his goal when playing for Preston in November 2018 and almost repeated the trick in the 58th minute when he arrived late and sent Parrott flying midway inside the visitors’ half to the right. Referee John Busby deemed the challenge worthy of only a yellow card.
Town again should have had a third in the 57th minute when McGuinness was found by Dozzell’s corner but the centre-half powered his header wide.
Three minutes later, Edwards, who scored twice in the 4-1 win at Bloomfield Road earlier in the season, replaced Thomas, who had again been on the periphery, then the visitors swapped Matty Virtue for Demetri Mitchell.
Kaikai was yellow-carded for a high and late challenge on Edwards as the Blues looked to break in the 64th minute, then three minutes later Matheson joined him in the book for a foul on Husband.
On 69, the Blues swapped Parrott, who can be pleased with his Town debut, and Dozzell for James Norwood and debutant Harrop.
Norwood immediately got involved, chasing a ball down the left and crossing low towards Edwards, who claimed he’d been fouled as he and Ekpiteta slid in, but it appeared the Blackpool man had made contact with the ball and a corner was awarded. On 72, Simms took over from Kaikai for the visitors.
Two minutes later, Judge smashed a shot into the side-netting with the net subsequently requiring some tape to reattach it to the post.
Town keeper Holy suffered a nasty blow to the face in the 78th minute when Gabriel was sent in on goal chasing a low bouncing ball. The Czech got there first and bundled away but caught the Blackpool right-back’s boot in the face. However, after a couple of minutes’ recovery, Holy was able to continue.
The Seasiders, who were showing few signs of being able to get back into the game, made a triple change in the 82nd minute with ex-Blues Garbutt and Ward and Beryly Lubala taking over from Husband, Dougall and Embleton.
A minute later it again should have been 3-0 to the Blues. Matheson cut the ball back from the byline on the right and Sears looked certain to score until Ekpiteta somehow diverted his low shot past the far post.
In the 88th minute referee Busby pulled up with a hamstring injury and after a delay was replaced by fourth official Paul Yates.
With the game in seven additional minutes, Sears was played in on the right but checked back and played to Norwood, whose cross was flicked wide by Harrop.
That was the last action of a game which was all but won when Woolfenden headed the second goal four minutes after the restart.
Town had plenty of chances to improve on the three-goal margin they beat the Tangerines at Bloomfield Road earlier in the season but were unable to take them.
For once they looked threatening from set pieces and ought to have scored more than just Woolfenden's goal via that route.
The Blues grew in confidence having gone into their 2-0 lead but already had sought to pass at a greater tempo, rarely in the predictable ponderous manner which has been the hallmark of their displays this season.
A Blackpool comeback never looked on the cards and the second half was as comfortable and competent as the Blues have been for some time.
New loanees Parrott and Matheson could be happy with their contributions with the Spurs man holding-up and linking play, while also looking to get in behind at times.
Matheson broke forward on occasions, something he will presumably do with greater regularly as he gets more games under his belt having not played a first-team match this season.
Harrop looked to get himself in the box during his time on the field and would appear to add a threat from central midfield that Town have been short of this season, although Judge will be delighted with his goal and a performance more in line with his early performances for the club rather than this season's often middling form.
A win which improves the Blues’ home form, following a run of six defeats in seven, and moves them up one place to 10th but still four points off the play-offs - although now nine off the top two following Hull City’s surprise defeat at Burton - ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Peterborough United, who are fourth following their 2-0 home win against Crewe.
Town: Holy, Matheson, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Kenlock, Dozzell (Harrop 69), Downes (c), Judge, Thomas (Edwards 60), Sears, Parrott (Norwood 70). Unused: Cornell, Chambers, Ward, Drinan.
Blackpool: Maxwell (c), Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Thorniley, Husband (Garbutt 81), Dougall (Ward 82), Stewart, Kaikai (Simms 72), Embleton (Lubala 82), Virtue (Mitchell 61), Yates. Unused: Sims, Turton. Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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