Ipswich Town 1-0 Plymouth Argyle - Match Report
Saturday, 26th Mar 2022 17:06
Sam Morsy’s 37th-minute goal saw Town to a 1-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle at Portman Road to reinvigorate the Blues’ play-off push. Morsy turned in James Norwood’s pass and Town ought to have won more comfortably against the fourth-placed Pilgrims, who had won their previous six matches without conceding.
Town boss Kieran McKenna made three changes from the team which drew 1-1 at Oxford last weekend.
Skipper Morsy returned to the midfield for Tom Carroll, who dropped to the bench, while Sone Aluko was one of the number 10s alongside Bersant Celina, with James Norwood the central striker. Conor Chaplin and Joe Pigott were also among the subs.
Argyle made two changes from the team which beat Cheltenham 2-0 at home on Tuesday with Steven Sessegnon coming in at left wing-back and Adam Randell into central midfield with former Blues loanee Conor Grant missing out due to injury and Ryan Broom on the bench.
Former Blues centre-half James Wilson, last season’s Town Player of the Year, was at the centre of the Plymouth defence.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Blues and Argyle legend Paul Mariner, who died aged 68 last July.
After the teams had taken a knee, the game got under way with Town immediately on the front foot and in the fourth minute Aluko shot into the side-netting from a tight angle on the left.
Plymouth subsequently had a spell on the ball with Janoi Donacien making an important interception from a Joe Edwards cross from the right which had been flicked on by Ryan Hardie.
However, Town quickly got on top and in the 14th minute came close to going in front when Burns sent a low ball across the Argyle six-yard area from Aluko’s pass but with no team-mate there to add the final touch.
Aluko, the Blues’ biggest threat in the early stages, turned a shot wide following a throw on the left, then Burns tried to pick out Norwood at the far post but the ball was cleared before it reached the striker.
Town kept up the pressure with James Bolton blocking from Norwood just inside the box, before Wilson stopped an Aluko effort.
On 23, Aluko looked to find Morsy with a clever pass in behind the Plymouth defence as his skipper broke into the area and only just failed to do so.
The Pilgrims were forced into a change in the 25th minute when Bolton was forced off with a knock and Romoney Crichlow took over.
Within seconds of the change, Donacien was sent away down the Town right and whipped over a low ball which again flew beyond the Blues players breaking towards the edge of the six-yard box. It was a decent opportunity which Town ought to have made more from.
Plymouth attacks had been rare but on 27 Sessegnon tried an effort from just outside the box to the left which arced the wrong side of Christian Walton’s right post.
At the other end, Norwood shot weakly to Argyle keeper Michael Cooper, then Morsy was booked for a foul on Niall Ennis.
Town continued to look for the afternoon’s first goal and in the 31st minute Burns snuck in from the right to head a deflected Morsy cross from the left goalwards, Cooper saving and then gathering somewhat uncomfortably.
The Blues continued to dominate, winning a series of corners which Plymouth prevented from leading to any serious danger.
The goal Town’s first-half display had so richly deserved finally came in the 37th minute. Celina, who had had a quiet half compared with Aluko, chipped a ball over the Pilgrims’ backline, Norwood chased after it, held off sub Crichlow and cut back to Morsy, who turned in his second goal for Town and his first at home from close range to send Portman Road into raptures.
The goal was the first conceded by the Pilgrims in 10 hours and four minutes of football, Argyle having kept clean sheets in their last six fixtures.
The Blues immediately went looking for a second, Norwood blazing over after Dominic Thompson had tapped a cross from the right to him just inside the area.
Norwood, who was causing the visitors’ backline more than a few problems, threatened again in the 42nd minute, shooting over from a tight angle having been fed by Aluko on the right.
After three additional minutes, the half-time whistle was greeted by applause by a home support thoroughly impressed by their side’s first-half display.
The Blues had dominated from virtually start to finish with former Plymouth youngster Walton a spectator in goal, aside from an audacious early turn inside an Argyle striker inside his area.
Town thoroughly deserved their lead and had had enough chances to have secured an even more secure by half-time with the final ball perhaps not always what it should have been.
Argyle saw most of the ball in the early stages with the Blues looking a threat on the break but with neither team able to work a chance.
Aluko shot well over from distance in the 54th minute, then Bakinson dispossessed Danny Mayor just outside the area then rode a Crichlow tackle but the ball squirmed away and keeper Cooper was able to claim somewhat fortuitously for the visitors.
In the 62nd minute Burns was booked for fouling Sessegnon as Argyle broke after Morsy had clearly been fouled as he approached the visitors’ box with Town players either side of him and the Blues in a very promising situation.
A minute later, Town swapped the tiring Aluko and Norwood for Chaplin and Macauley Bonne, despite Morsy looking like he was feeling the effects of the challenge moments earlier. On 68 the Pilgrims swapped Jordan Houghton for Broom.
Two minutes later, Morsy headed a looping Burns cross from the right to Cooper after a Chaplin free-kick had been half-cleared.
Plymouth had seen a fair amount of the ball, and had won one or two set pieces in dangerous areas, however the Blues had looked more of a threat on the counter-attack.
As the game moved towards its final quarter of an hour, Town again began to dominate possession.
On 75, the visitors were forced into another change when Hardie pulled up with a hamstring injury as he and Luke Woolfenden chased a ball down the left. Jordon Garrick took over. A minute later, Crichlow was booked for pulling back Bonne.
In the 81st minute, Chaplin twisted and turned to work himself space just outside the area before hitting a low shot wide.
Town’s lead was looking in little danger with Plymouth unable to cause Walton any problems aside from an overhit left-sided cross which beat his far post.
On 88, Chaplin sent a dangerous ball across the face from the right but too high for any of his team-mates.
Within a minute, Plymouth won a corner for which Cooper was sent up field to join his outfield team-mates. Despite a moment of nervousness as the ball bounced in the box, Walton was able to claim.
As the game moved into five minutes of additional time, Town should have made it 2-0. Celina played a superb outside of the boot pass to Burns breaking into the area unmarked on the right - Bonne having left the ball for him - but the Welshman uncharacteristically shot the wrong side of the far post.
Keeper Cooper came up for an Argyle free-kick deep in injury time which the Blues successfully defended. Chaplin belted the ball towards the empty goal from well inside his own half and on target but without enough power and it was played out by Plymouth skipper Edwards.
But it mattered little as referee David Rock blew his whistle before Town were able to take the throw to confirm the Blues’ victory.
Town thoroughly deserved the three points and in truth the margin of victory should have been more comfortable with a number of opportunities having been spurned in the first half and Burns having missed his late chance.
At the other end, Argyle, fourth and in a run of six wins in a row until today, were prevented from managing a single shot on target, Town recording their 12th clean sheet in McKenna's 17 matches in charge.
While the Blues dominated the first half, it was a more pragmatic display in the second with the visitors seeing more of the ball and Town a threat on the counter-attack.
The win, only the second over a team in the division’s upper echelons since McKenna took over as boss in December, sees the Blues stay ninth but now five points from the play-offs with six left to play with Cambridge United at Portman Road next Saturday.
Town: Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Burgess, Burns, Morsy (c), Bakinson, Thompson, Aluko (Chaplin 64), Celina, Norwood (Bonne 64). Unused: Hladky Baggott, Penney, Carroll, Pigott.
Plymouth: Cooper, Wilson, Bolton (Crichlow 24), Gillesphey, Houghton (Broom 68), Edwards (c), Randell, Mayor, Sessegnon, Ennis, Hardie (Garrick 75). Unused: Burton, Scarr, Lewis, Law. Referee: David Rock (Hertfordshire). Att: 23,256 (Plymouth: 1,291).
Photo: Matchday Images
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