Ipswich Town 1-2 West Ham U21s - Match Report
Tuesday, 14th Sep 2021 21:45
Ipswich Town’s wait for a win continues after a late Armstrong Okoflex penalty saw West Ham’s U21s to a 2-1 victory in their opening Papa John’s Trophy tie of the season at Portman Road. James Norwood gave the Blues the lead in the second minute but Keenan Appiah-Forson levelled for the Hammers’ youngsters on 12. With a minute left on the clock, keeper Tomas Holy conceded a penalty which Okoflex converted, before the visitors were reduced to 10 men in injury time when Pierre Ekwah was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Town boss Paul Cook made 10 changes from the weekend 5-2 loss to Bolton on Saturday with Sam Morsy skippering on his debut and young centre-half Albie Armin handed his senior bow.
Holy was in goal with Kane Vincent-Young - the only player to have started against the Trotters but who lasted only 21 minutes before being subbed - at right-back and Matt Penney on the left.
Luke Woolfenden and Armin were the centre-halves with Morsy and Tom Carroll - making his first Town start - in the middle of midfield.
Idris El Mizouni made his second start of the season in the number 10 role with Louis Barry on the left and Kayden Jackson the right with Norwood the lone out-and-out striker.
Jon Nolan was among the subs for the first time this season, while youngsters Cameron Humphreys, Zanda Siziba and Elkan Baggott were also on the bench.
After both teams taking the knee had been warmly applauded, the game got under way in steady drizzle.
And Town went in front in only the second minute via the first attack of the game. After good work from El Mizouni on the left, Penney drove towards the area and fed Vincent-Young breaking on the right.
The former Colchester man cut inside to Carroll, who looped into the area. Norwood appeared to get a flick on it causing West Ham keeper Kristian Hegyi to mishandle and the Blues striker stabbed in his first goal of the season.
Town continued their bright start and on seven Vincent-Young crossed for Norwood from the right but the Blues’ number 10 was already through his shot when the ball arrived and it bounced off him for a goalkick.
West Ham threatened for the first time in ninth minute when Daniel Chesters was sent away down the right behind Penney but Woolfenden did well to get across to cut out his low ball into the area.
That attack proved to be a sign of things to come and in the 12th minute the visitors levelled. The ball was neatly worked in from the left with Town failing to put in a serious challenge and Appiah-Forson shot across Tomas Holy and into the net. The Czech keeper got his right hand on it and will feel he probably should have kept it out.
In the 22nd minute Hammers skipper Ajibola Alese was booked for felling Norwood after the goalscorer had successfully chased a long Jackson ball down the right.
The visitors almost created a second in the 24th minute when Okoflex sent a dangerous ball across the six-yard area which the shaky Holy allowed beyond him but with no Hammers player there to add the final touch.
The Blues, whose performance had drifted after their bright start, began to show more of a threat and on 28 Jackson crossed low from the right but Norwood was unable to turn towards goal at the near post and it was cleared ahead of Barry behind him.
A minute later, Jackson shot first against Norwood and then over the bar from some distance out.
Just after the half-hour, Kamarai Swyer was played in on the left of the box and hit a shot which Holy was forced to palm behind.
On 35, Norwood took down a long ball forward from Woolfenden and fed Jackson breaking on the right. The former Accrington man sent it low across the six-yard area but too far in front of Norwood and Barry. Five minutes later, Norwood flicked a Carroll free-kick from the left wide, Penney having been fouled.
As half-time approached, the Blues were well in control, passing the ball around confidently with Carroll and Morsy at the centre of things, although without creating another chance.
During two minutes of injury time El Mizouni was booked for a foul on Harrison Ashby, the Tunisia international’s second transgression of the night.
Town had got off to the ideal start via Norwood’s early goal and might well have scored again in the opening minutes, however, once again they quickly allowed the opposition to get back into it, although from a West Ham perspective it was a well worked goal.
Both sides had one or two opportunities to go in front after that - Norwood had looked dangerous throughout - with the Blues finishing the half in a controlled manner with experienced midfield pair Carroll and Morsy increasing in influence.
Three minutes after the restart, Okoflex was booked for a foul on Vincent-Young as the right-back broke forward at pace into the West Ham half.
In the 54th minute Jackson underwent treatment for what looked to be an ankle injury but after treatment was able to continue. Ekwah picked up a yellow card for the challenge that led to his knock.
Two minutes later, Barry, who had had a frustrating evening, robbed Jamal Baptiste and burst down the left and into the area. However, he was outmuscled as he looked for space to cross and his claims that he had been fouled fell on deaf ears.
Jackson succumbed to his injury in the 57th minute and Conor Chaplin took over playing in the number 10 role with El Mizouni moving out to the right.
Chaplin quickly got involved around the edge of the area but was unable to carve out an opportunity. On the hour mark Penney shot not too far wide from just outside the area on the left.
The Blues began to play the controlled football of the latter period of the first half, then in the 67th minute Barry was replaced by Zanda Siziba, among those to have impressed for the U23s this season.
On 70, following a long spell of Town possession, Vincent-Young crossed from the right just in front of Norwood with keeper Hegyi failing to hold onto it, however, the linesman’s flag was raised.
Soon after, the Blues played themselves into trouble midway inside their own half on their right and eventually Woolfenden was forced to stab away from Okoflex for a West Ham corner.
The Hammers thought they’d scored from the flag-kick, Holy mishandling it goalwards and appeared very fortunate that referee Charles Breakspear and his linesman didn’t adjudge it to have crossed the line, much to the frustration of the visitors.
Having grabbed hold of the ball, and with the Hammers protesting that they had scored, the Czech keeper threw it long for Chaplin to chase into the West Ham half. The former Barnsley man rode a tackle and fed Siziba who had joined him in breaking forward and the youngster looked to be tripped as tried to take the ball between defenders as he sought to find himself space to shoot. Referee Breakspear waved away the Town protests.
The incidents at both ends livened up what had been a dreary half and woke the previously soporific crowd up. Moments later, Siziba headed over at the near post from Norwood’s right-wing cross. Soon after, El Mizouni was swapped for Joe Pigott.
After Pigott had shot deep into the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand from distance, Morsy, currently serving a three-match ban which covers league games for a sending off in his final Middlesbrough match, was shown the first yellow card of his Town career for a foul.
From the free-kick, the visitors were awarded a penalty with a minute left on the clock. The ball was floated into the area, Baptiste headed wide but was sent flying by Holy’s late punch. Referee Breakspear pointed straight to the spot and Okoflex confidently sent the ball into the corner of the net to give the young Hammers the lead.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in injury time when the already booked Ekwah dived in at Siziba’s ankles and was shown a second yellow card.
The Blues desperately went looking for an equaliser in the remaining minutes, Penney hitting a shot which deflected behind, moments before the final whistle confirmed defeat to an U21 side for the second time in two seasons.
Once again Town got their noses in front but let their opposition back into the match soon after going in front.
Again they were made to pay for an individual error at the last, Holy, who earlier looked to have conceded an own goal, arriving late to punch clear and taking out Baptiste.
Town’s second-half display had lacked urgency up to that point but it came too late to prevent a second embarrassing result of the week.
The Blues travel to Lincoln - far from a happy hunting ground in recent seasons - on Saturday as they continue to look for a first victory of the season.
Town: Holy, Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, Armin, Penney, Morsy (c), Carroll, Jackson (Chaplin 57), El Mizouni (Pigott 78), Barry (Siziba 67), Norwood. Unused: Hladky, Baggott, Humphreys, Nolan.
West Ham U21: Hegyi, Okoflex, Alese (c), Ekwah, Ashby, Chesters (Rosa 88), Laing, Longelo, Swyer (Perkins 71), Appiah-Forson, Baptiste. Unused: Kinnear, Dju, Diallo, Forbes, Casey. Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey). Att: 4,231 (West Ham: 150).
Photo: Matchday Images
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