|Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Coventry City
Saturday, 2nd December 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 2-1 Coventry City - Match Report
Saturday, 2nd Dec 2023 17:09
First-half goals from George Hirst and Wes Burns were enough to see second-placed Town to a 2-1 victory over Coventry City, who missed a second-half penalty before a Brandon Williams own goal saw them pull one back deep in injury time. Hirst gave the Blues the lead in the sixth minute, firing home after being brilliantly played through by Nathan Broadhead, then Burns scored a superb outside-of-the-boot effort on 39. Matt Godden smashed his spot-kick against the bar on 73 after Harry Clarke had fouled Tatsuhiro Sakamoto but the visitors netted a late consolation when Williams nodded past his own keeper under pressure from Ellis Simms.
Town made one change from the team which beat Millwall 3-1 on Wednesday with Luke Woolfenden returning for Axel Tuanzebe at the heart of the defence.
Tuanzebe dropped out of the squad with Brandon Williams back on the bench having missed the victory over the Lions with a minor knock.
For the Sky Blues, manager Mark Robins made two changes with Callum O’Hare and Yasin Ayari coming into the team for Godden and Sakamoto, who dropped to the bench having started Tuesday’s 1-0 home victory over Plymouth.
Coventry were first to threaten in the second minute, passing their way through the Blues from their own half until Cameron Burgess outmuscled Haji Wright on the edge of the box.
But Town quickly began to get on top and in the fourth minute, after good work from Broadhead and Hirst, Burns played the ball in from the right to Conor Chaplin, but the forward sent a looping effort onto the roof of the net.
However, a minute later, the Blues went in front. From the halfway line on the left, Broadhead played a superb through ball for Hirst, who ran across his man before stroking confidently past visitors’ keeper Brad Collins.
As the Town players and crowd celebrated the striker’s fifth goal of the season, Burns underwent treatment for what looked to be a knock to his previously injured shoulder having been blocked off by Jake Bidwell, but following the restart was able to carry on.
The Blues continued to control the game and in the 14th minute, Broadhead stood up a cross from the left of the box which fell to Chaplin, but a Coventry defender made an important challenge.
A minute later, Broadhead had a golden opportunity to double Town’s lead having been played in behind the Sky Blues’ defence by skipper Sam Morsy, but screwed his low shot just wide of Collins’s right post.
On 18, Liam Kitching looped a header over from a Josh Eccles corner on the Coventry right.
But it was still mainly Town and on 25 Burns smashed a shot not too far over from the edge of the box to the right after a headed clearance fell to him.
A minute later, after Burns had been fouled by Bidwell, Broadhead nodded Morsy’s free-kick just over the bar.
As the half hour approach, Coventry began to get more into the game and in the 29th minute forced Vaclav Hladky into his first save of the afternoon.
A overhit cross from the right fell to Bidwell just outside the area to the left from where the former Swansea man struck a powerful effort which Hladky did well to save to his left. The ball looped into the air but the Blues worked it away from goal competently.
Sky Blues fans were on their feet in the 36th minute when Wright nodded home from close range from Ayari’s right-wing cross but the linesman rightly had raised his flag.
However, the visitors continued to threaten and following a corner on the left Bidwell struck another shot against a defender, then sent the rebound well over.
On 39, Luongo was booked for a foul on Milan van Ewijk, the Australian international’s fifth yellow card of the season - on the final game that five cautions lead to a suspension - meaning he’ll miss next week’s game away against his old club Middlesbrough.
Any frustrations Town may have had regarding that were quickly forgotten two minutes later when the Blues added to their lead via a stunning Burns strike.
The Wales international brought the ball in from the right before sending a superb outside-of-the-right boot effort curling trivela shot into the top corner of the net with keeper Collins motionless.
Burns’s second strike of the campaign was another to into an already keenly-contested Town goal of the season competition.
As the game moved into three minutes of additional time. A Chaplin shot from a tight angle on the right was forced out to Broadhead, who teed-up Davis, who was bursting into the box, but the former Leeds man blazed deep into the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand.
That was the final action of another impressive half from the Blues, who deserved their lead even if Coventry had had one or two chances to get themselves back into it.
The Blues quickly got into their stride and as against Millwall in midweek, netted an all-important early goal.
Town subsequently had opportunities to add to their lead, with Broadhead missing a very good chance, before the visitors got a foothold in the game and caused the Blues one or two problems with Hladky making a decent save.
However, Burns’s brilliant goal came just when Town needed it to put the Blues in a very strong position at half-time.
Ahead of the restart, Coventry made a triple change, Joel Latibeaudiere, Tatsuhiro Sakamoto and Matt Godden replacing Eccles, Ayari and Jamie Allen.
Town made a slightly scruffy start to the second half without threatening to add to their lead.
At the other end, Godden shot well wide on 53, then five minutes later Bobby Thomas headed similarly beyond the post from a corner from the left. Following the corner, Broadhead underwent treatment before continuing.
Clarke stuck Town’s first effort in the 63rd minute, the full-back’s powerful effort just flaying past Collins’s left post.
Two minutes later, the Blues swapped Broadhead and Burns for Marcus Harness and Omari Hutchinson with both departing players warmly applauded off the field.
And following the corner, Coventry were awarded a penalty when Clarke tripped Sakamoto. It looked the right decision, even if the Coventry sub had taken a little while to go to ground.
Another sub, Godden, took the kick and smashed it against the underside of the bar and away from goal, much to the delight of the Blues’ support. Soon afterwards, Coventry switched Wright for Ellis Simms and O’Hare for Jay Dasilva.
The missed penalty seemed to reinvigorate the previously quiet fans and team, and on 76 Luongo struck a powerful effort which Collins palmed wide of goal.
Two minutes later, Town swapped Clarke and Chaplin for Williams and Jack Taylor, then in the 79th minute Sakamoto was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Burgess.
The Blues made their final change in the 85th minute, Kayden Jackson taking over from the again impressive Hirst.
Simms headed wide for Coventry on 88, then with Town again having been sloppy in their own final third, Latibeaudiere shot well over.
As the game moved into its penultimate minute, Williams was booked for a foul on Dasilva, his fifth booking, meaning the Manchester United loanee will also miss next week’s match on Teesside.
In the sixth minute of injury time, Coventry pulled a goal back from what was virtually the final kick of the game. A cross looped in from the right and Williams appeared to nod past Hladky under pressure from Simms, the full-back indicating that he thought he was fouled by the striker.
The loanee may well have had a case but there was no time for the Sky Blues to give Town any late nerves with referee Andrew Kitchen blowing his whistle moments after the restart.
As against Millwall on Wednesday, the game was all but won in the first half. However, the Blues were sloppy at times during the second half and the last 17 minutes might have been tougher had Godden not missed Coventry’s penalty. In the end, their goal came too late to make a difference to the game.
The Blues have now won 17 of their last 18 home matches in the league and have 45 points, which would have been enough to avoid relegation last season. Their new home league goals record for a calendar year is now up to 68.
The big negatives from the game for Town were both Luongo and Williams picking up yellow cards which will see them miss next week’s game at Middlesbrough, particularly with players needing to pick up 10 bookings rather than five to receive bans from the next fixture.
Town remain second, still a point behind leaders Leicester and seven in front of Leeds in third ahead of their visit to the Riverside next Saturday. Blackburn's defeat at Sheffield Wednesday means the Blues are 17 points ahead of the Lancastrians in seventh.
Town: Hladky, Clarke (Williams 78), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo, Burns (Hutchinson 65), Chaplin (Taylor 78), Broadhead (Harness 65), Hirst. Unused: Walton, Ball, Jackson, Scarlett, Ladapo.
Coventry: Collins, Thomas, Allen (Godden 46), O’Hare (DaSilva 73), Wright (Simms 74), Sheaf (c), Kitching, Bidwell, Ayari (Sakamoto 46), Van Ewijk, Eccles (Latibeaudiere 46). Unused: Moore, Wilson, Binks, Kelly, Moore. Referee: Andrew Kitchen (Durham). Att: 29,378 (Coventry: 1,970).
Photo: Matchday Images
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