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Ipswich Town 1-1 Sunderland - Match Report
Saturday, 18th Dec 2021 17:06

James Norwood was on target for the second League One game running as Town and Sunderland drew 1-1 at a packed Portman Road. Norwood headed home Macauley Bonne’s cross in first-half injury time, Town having dominated before the break, but Nathan Broadhead levelled for the Black Cats five minutes after the restart with the Blues looking the more likely winners in the closing stages.

Wes Burns returned to the Town XI following his hamstring injury with new manager Kieran McKenna watching his new players from the stands.

Burns started at right wing-back as the Blues continued with interim manager John McGreal, in his fourth and final game in charge and his first at Portman Road, sticking with the 3-5-2 system utilised in the second half at Barrow on Wednesday with Matt Penney on the left, George Edmundson, Luke Woolfenden and Janoi Donacien the centre-halves and Christian Walton in goal.

In central midfield, skipper Sam Morsy was joined by Lee Evans with Sone Aluko ahead of them with Norwood and Macauley Bonne forming a front pairing.

Only Walton, Penney, Aluko and Norwood remained from the XI which started at Barrow on Wednesday.

Sunderland were unchanged from last week’s 2-1 home victory over Plymouth with midfielder Lynden Gooch OK having limped off with a groin problem against the Pilgrims.

Following the #PackOutPR campaign, Portman Road was packed with 29,005 watching, the highest attendance since the play-off semi-final against Norwich in 2014/15 when 29,166 saw the sides draw 1-1.

Ahead of kick-off fans waved large blue and white flags which had been left on every seat by the club, while pyrotechnics were set off as the players made their way on to the pitch with the stadium as lively as they’ve been for some while.

Prior to the start, the Town players took a knee to applause, while Sunderland remained standing as they have throughout the season.

The Blues started brightly with Norwood striking the game’s first shot in the sixth minute, but with his left-foot edge-of-the-area effort screwing away off the outside of his boot and out for a throw on the opposite side of the field.

Three minutes later, Burns and Norwood exchanged passes on the right of the box and the Welshman shot into the side-netting.

Town should have taken the lead in the 10th minute when Burns was sent away down the right by Norwood and crossed to Penney breaking into the area on the left but the former Sheffield Wednesday man hit the ball into the ground and over with the goal at his mercy.

The Blues continued the pressure, Burns beating his man before whipping over a cross towards his opposite wing-back Penney at the far post but a Sunderland defender nodded behind. From the corner, the ball looked to be headed wide by a Black Cat but a goal-kick was awarded.

In the 23rd minute Sunderland’s 11-goal top scorer Ross Stewart hit the visitors’ first effort of the afternoon but sent the ball well into the packed Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

But it was still mainly Town. Just before the half-hour, Aluko sent Bonne away on the left and the striker’s cross found Burns at the right of the box but the wing-back’s shot was blocked by Callum Doyle.

Moments later, Bonne claimed a penalty when he was manhandled by Tom Flanagan as Wearsiders’ keeper Thorben Hoffman grabbed a high ball played into the box. Referee Thomas Bramall and his linesman showed no interest with the Blues having a reasonable if not overwhelming case.

In the 36th minute Evans won a tackle with Leon Dajaku, which left the Sunderland man on the floor and his team-mates incensed with a short spell of pushing and shoving ensuing. Referee Bramall eventually briefly spoke to Evans, who looked to have done nothing wrong despite it having been a solid challenge, and then the two captains after awarding the visitors a free-kick.

Dajaku struggled to his feet and tried to walk off with help before sitting back down with the stretcher cart subsequently making its way onto the pitch and taking him down the tunnel. Denver Hume, who has been out with an ankle injury since October, took his place.

The lengthy stoppage led to a minor lull from Town and the visitors’ first sustained spell of possession with the Blues momentarily looking a little shaky.

But in the first of seven additional minutes, Town finally made their overall dominance tell when they went in front.

Bonne’s cross from the right deflected as it came into the box and Norwood rose to nod into the net off the underside of the bar, the striker’s second goal of the season, both in the last two matches.

There were no more chances before the Town players were given a big ovation by the near-capacity crowd as they left the field having fully deserved their lead after a dominant first-half display, as stark a contrast as there could be from the performance in the opening 45 minutes at Barrow on Wednesday.

New manager McKenna will have seen plenty to be positive about from his new players, who had been on top virtually from start to end with the Black Cats only showing anything in the short spell after Dajaku’s injury.

As in the game between the sides at the Stadium of Light, the Wearsiders had struggled to make any impact with Walton in the Town goal still to make a save.

However, it took the Black Cats only six minutes of the second half to get back on terms. The visitors passed their way through Town in the centre of the pitch before Dan Neil played in Nathan Broadhead and the on-loan Everton man beat Walton to his left before celebrating in front of the travelling Wearside fans.

Carl Winchester was booked for a foul on Evans and subsequently maintained a strong exchange of views with his manager Lee Johnson on the touchline before Sunderland threatened again.

Stewart was found on the right of the box but Walton was quickly off his line to block and the loose ball was cleared.

Town had looked distinctly shaky in the opening minutes of the half, but quickly began to restore their composure and return to the ascendency.

On 59 Aluko’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked, then within a minute Bonne nodded wide at the near post from Burns’s right-wing cross.

Flanagan was yellow-carded for time-wasting as Town looked to take a throw-in quickly, then Stewart joined him in the book for a cynical trip on Burns as the former Fleetwood man burst into the Black Cats’ half.

The Blues swapped Penney, who had looked a danger in the first half, for Kane Vincent-Young in the 63rd minute, while the visitors replaced Alex Pritchard with Elliot Embleton.

Winchester might have been fortunate not to see a second yellow card in the 67th minute for a foul on Vincent-Young on the Town left. Evans whipped the free-kick in under the bar and Hoffman uncomfortably bundled over.

A minute later, Burns became the first Blues player to get his name in the referee’s book for a foul on Hume as Sunderland counter-attacked following a Town corner. On 69, Town switched Norwood, who was applauded off by the home support after his first game at Portman Road since September, for Conor Chaplin.

On 72, with Town still on top but with Sunderland threatening on the break, Vincent-Young curled a shot wide from the left.

Three minutes later, Chaplin hit a volleyed effort on the turn which wasn’t strong enough to test Hoffman.

The momentum swung back towards Sunderland with the Black Cats winning a series of corners as the 80th minute approached.

But Town began to threaten again. On 84 Vincent-Young cut back from the left and Chaplin’s shot was blocked by Bailey Wright. In the aftermath, Burns hit an effort over.

Play quickly moved to the other end and Stewart momentarily looked to have got behind Woolfenden and in on goal. However, the striker left the ball behind and Edmundson was able to clear the danger. On 87, Sunderland replaced goalscorer Broadhead with Aiden O’Brien.

A minute later, Burns shot wide from 25 yards following a Town corner on the right with the Blues finishing the stronger.

As the game moved into its final scheduled minute, Morsy teed-up Aluko on the edge of the area from where the Nigerian international hit a shot which was deflected wide. In the wake of the resultant corner Aluko struck another effort, this time over.

In the final moments of four minutes of injury time, Burns crossed and Chaplin flicked to Hoffman from the near post.

The Blues were warmly applauded at the whistle having looked the more likely winners of the game and but for a slow start to the second period probably would have been.

Town had been very much on top in the first half and deserved their lead but they allowed Sunderland back in it at the start of the second and might even have found themselves behind before regaining their composure.

While Sunderland were better after the break, the Blues looked the more likely scorers of the game’s third goal.

No Portman Road win for interim boss McGreal and coaches Rene Gilmartin and Kieron Dyer in their fourth and final game in charge, and their first at Portman Road, but a more than creditable display ahead of the start of the Kieran McKenna era on Monday.

Town: Walton, Donacien, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Penney, Burns, Morsy (c), Evans, Aluko, Bonne, Norwood (Chaplin 69). Unused: Hladky, Burgess, Vincent-Young, Carroll, Fraser, Pigott.

Sunderland: Hoffman, Flanagan, Doyle, Dajaku (Hume 41), Broadhead, Gooch, Stewart, Winchester, Pritchard (Embleton 63), Neil, Wright (c). Unused: Patterson, Alves, Embleton, O'Brien, Younger, Kimpioka. Referee: Thomas Bramall (Sheffield). Att: 29,005 (Sunderland: 2,023).

Photo: Matchday Images

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BromleyBloo added 17:08 - Dec 18
Sounded a great first half, although struggled to score and deserved to be more than 1-0 up at half-time. Second half didn’t come out and let them back in………..again.

Still I guess we didn’t lose, so new era to build on - busy in the transfer window and unbeaten until the end of the season?!?

Otherwise prepare for next season…………..


arablue added 17:09 - Dec 18
Much better performance than the debacle at Barrow. Showed more intent and will to try and win the game.

We had so many shots at goal but only a couple was on target. Something Kieran McKenna needs to work on.

OwainG1992 added 17:12 - Dec 18
Good hard graft and effort put in by the lads.
Just what you want to see post Barrow debacle.

Perhaps deserved the 3 points but wasn't to be.

Onwards and upwards under an exciting new manager.

planetblue_2011 added 17:14 - Dec 18
Bit disappointed didn’t win today in front of 29000 fans, Kevin Beattie statue, John McGreal’s last game in charge & new manager watching, but other than that not a bad point against 3rd in the table🤔

runningout added 17:15 - Dec 18
Charlton and Barrow shameful shows shouldn’t be forgot by players, but used as an example to push on

SpiritOfJohn added 17:16 - Dec 18
Seems like John McGreal has hit on a promising formation in his 4th - and last - game in charge. If only Cook had been willing to experiment he might have had more success...

ShropshireBluenago09 added 17:16 - Dec 18
So good to have Burns back, so good to have Norwood starting and scoring, so good to have 3-5-2 formation. New manager and a transfer window to come soon. Hopefully we can kick on from here.

bixleyboy added 17:16 - Dec 18
A very good atmosphere and an encouraging performance from town this afternoon. Looking forward to the new manager coming in and hoping we go on a good run of results, especially if we played like we have today. We have missed Burns, quality player.

Bert added 17:18 - Dec 18
After that impotent display on Wednesday, the viagra certainly kicked in today. Great first half performance and reasons to be cheerful. Thank you JMcG for playing the right formation and an attacking mindset. Now let’s repeat that performance consistently.

chopra777 added 17:18 - Dec 18
Good effort. WB helped and Aluko sounded good on the radio.KM work your coaching magic please.

therein61 added 17:20 - Dec 18
Much better you boys in blue and a watching new boss will have seen more positives than had he been at Charlton and Barrow, the atmosphere in the stadium was brilliant just like in Sir Bobs days give us a performance Town and we will give you a din!!!!

midastouch added 17:21 - Dec 18
Shame we couldn't put on a show for the new owners but definitely a big improvement on the woeful Wed night showing and something to build on. First 45 minutes sounded a big improvement but the new manager will definitely need to work on building a team that can show up for 90 minutes rather than 45. Until we can string it together first and second half we're going to struggle to get on a run. Anyway, a good effort but shame we couldn't capitalise on our first half showing and take all 3 points.

blueboy1981 added 17:22 - Dec 18
Again we go to sleep when we should have been pushing on - how many times do we have to concede a lead this season, before the lesson is learnt ??
After a dominating first half - this was two points definitely lost.
Improvement Yes, but still much to do, especially at Home, 29000 fans today .. !!!
How many League 1 Clubs would give anything for a half or even third of that ???

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 17:25 - Dec 18
Good result against one of the best teams in the division. Plenty of effort. We are a bit lacking up front still and maybe in midfield, but perhaps McKenna can sort this out. Anyway, onwards and upwards after this result.

DavoIPB added 17:28 - Dec 18
Are Sunderland really one of the best teams in the division? If so, how are we not near the top. Outplayed them twice!

dirtydingusmagee added 17:30 - Dec 18
better display thank goodness we still only have half a team though in the sense we just cant play 90 mins ,just 45. With no chance of promotion we can only hope the new manager can work on the players and build a team for next season. P

dirtydingusmagee added 17:34 - Dec 18
pleased at least that JM didnt end his temp spell on a loser. Good luck to him going forward with his u/23s.

BangaloreBlues added 17:34 - Dec 18
Happy with the draw.... great day for having a full house, Beattie's statue, owners in the ground... but... don't want to be pessimistic but this could be the last football we see for a while. So many games cancelled today, there will only be more to come, so I'm guessing a full - at least temporary - shutdown of football will arrive soon :-(

Suffolkboy added 17:39 - Dec 18
New chaps will have seen plenty , both to encourage and to remedy ; good coaching and mentoring might do wonders for some of our lazy thinkers ,of whom demands might well be made !
It’s so frustrating to see and read time and time again of opportunities and chances being wasted or frittered away by lax thinking , lack of commitment ,or maybe simply a dreadfully lazy mindset ?
Time and again we’ve witnessed opportunities in the box go begging because no one is ‘present ‘ ,,looking for the chance, or hunting for a rebound etc !
Much the same syndrome is seen about the pitch ,so hunting together in packs, establishing cohesion and ensuring one and all are truly fit ,and full enough of stamina to last 90 minutes will give our new blood plenty to work upon !
Meantime ,,well done John McGreal , you’ve brought a calm professional sincere approach with no histrionics and abundantly clear response ; we could not have asked for more !

RobITFC added 17:39 - Dec 18
Frustrating as Sunderland are not a good team and we have lost 5pts to them this season, cannot see us making play offs so league 1 again next year and maybe the likes of Forest Green and Sutton United!! Hope Mckenna sorts this team out and we get some momentum for the rest of the season and kick off with a great start next year. Good luck Kieran.

ringwoodblue added 17:44 - Dec 18
Amazing support at PR today so well done to all those that went along in spite of the current worrying Covid situation.

Such a shame we couldn’t secure the win for the fans and for McGreal.

McKenna has some thing to build on but there is SOOO much for him to do.

Billysherlockblue added 17:52 - Dec 18
We did well. I still think midfield is slow hence aluk0 in midfield today. Burns outstanding again as was walton and edmundson. The rest did ok. Well done lads now more of the same.

therein61 added 18:16 - Dec 18
In response to your comment "Bert"(which i agreed with) the Viagra kicked in because after a period of being in the easy going holiday camp attitude instilled by Cook i.e its a game boys go out and have a game of beach football break a sweat to keep everyone happy then we can all sit back have a few beers and count the bank balance, Now it's a case of playing for their very well paid contracts and maybe a few will wake up and join the real world and do a job otherwise get on your bike son bye bye.

EssexTractor added 18:30 - Dec 18
The comment regarding postponement of matches ahead does seem likely .
But a memory today of times gone by in the attendance , the first half atmosphere and in periods good watchable football.
Sunderland must have watched us on Wednesday and thought it an easy game. But they were shaken first half and to the neutral we might have been observed as the third placed team.
But unfortunately our grip on a match, when we went on the front foot, we wanted and on scoring chances they just shaded it after half time .
Plus marks today for Aluko who worked his socks off , won so many balls and the shape of his stature makes it difficult to opposition to tackle him
For Edmundson particularly good in first half.
For Wolfenden who looked better than Nsiala and Burgess
For the pace of Burns - more so in the first half - and definitely a crown pleaser.
I think the new manager must have been impressed not only by the clubs history it’s supporters. And also by the tenacity and belief shown by the effort today
But despite all of this he must know that to win matches , to go higher in the League , the simple truth is goal scoring chances must be made and taken .
Despite their energy and enthusiasm in the game - and Norwoods goal - the front two really ever tested the Sunderland keeper.
A major task ahead.
But overall what a terrific tonic after the abysmal Barrow ( mis) match ,

TimmyH added 18:33 - Dec 18
Didn't do enough to win it!...I knew Sunderland would come out with a change of formation 2nd half and look more threatening. Still we go through 'lulls' in games with too many players not contributing enough particularly down the left until KVY came on and as for Evans - still don't know what he brings to the side.

Great attendance and support who deserve better...I wonder what our American friends thought of it? for me still not good enough (going by this performance) and we've continually been poor at home this season which needs to change pronto!

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