|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 West Bromwich Albion
Saturday, 10th February 2024 Kick-off 12:30
Ipswich Town 2-2 West Bromwich Albion - Match Report
Saturday, 10th Feb 2024 14:41
Omari Hutchinson netted an injury time leveller as Town and West Brom drew 2-2 at Portman Road. Tom Fellows’s 18th-minute goal gave the visitors the lead before Nathan Broadhead levelled seconds after half-time, but Albion sub John Swift restored the Baggies’ lead with 14 minutes to go, before Hutchinson grabbed a deserved second equaliser for Town three minutes into time added on, the Blues having dominated the second half.
Kieffer Moore was handed his full Town debut and Nathan Broadhead returned to the XI with Kayden Jackson and ex-Baggies loanee Jeremy Sarmiento dropping to the bench.
Centre-half George Edmundson kept his place in the side despite Cameron Burgess’s return from international duty with Australia at the Asian Cup with the former Accrington man not in the 20.
Albion made one change from the team which beat Birmingham 1-0 at home last week with goalscorer Andreas Weimann coming in for John Swift, who was among the subs.
The visitors struck the first shot of the match at the end of the first minute, Fellows cutting in from the left after the Baggies had countered following a Town attack, but sent the ball well into the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
West Brom continued to have the better of the game in the opening minutes, Weimann sending a dangerous ball over from the right in the eighth minute, but fortunately beyond Brandon Thomas-Asante.
Town began to take control as the game moved past the 10-minute mark and on 13 skipper Sam Morsy played a clever chipped pass over the top into Conor Chaplin on the left of the area. The forward knocked it back towards Moore but it was cleared before it came down to a height which afforded the striker the opportunity to shoot.
However, the Baggies remained a threat and in the 17th minute Weimann shot over the bar after a corner had been half-cleared to him at the back of the box.
A minute later, Davis was fed in on the left of the area and crossed for Moore, who nodded back across towards Chaplin, but an Albion toe took it away from the Blues’ top scorer as he prepared to strike.
Almost immediately, the visitors took the lead. The ball was played down the left for Fellows to chase and the one-time Crawley loanee outmuscled Luke Woolfenden, who had initially looked favourite to win it, cut inside and hit a low shot past Vaclav Hladky to the keeper’s right, the 20-year-old’s third goal in five games.
The Blues didn’t seem unduly impacted by the goal and took the game to Albion in the minutes after going behind and on 24 should have levelled.
Broadhead was sent away on the left and Kyle Bartley diverted his low cross out to Chaplin on the penalty spot. The forward seemed certain to add to his nine goals but blazed over the bar. The former Barnsley man’s frustration was plain to seem.
As the game moved towards the half-hour mark, Morsy was shown the game’s first yellow card for pulling back Fellows as the earlier scorer threatened to get away just inside the Town half.
On 34, Town almost profited from West Brom getting themselves into trouble playing out from the back - eventually, the visitors having taken an age over restarts with referee David Coote doing little to remedy the situation - and Morsy ultimately hit a low shot which was little trouble for Albion keeper Alex Palmer.
Coote finally did take note of the home crowd’s frustration with the time-wasting as Albion tardily prepared to take a throw but even so just made it clear that he was aware what was going on rather than showing any cards.
Town were continuing to see most of the ball but without seriously testing Palmer. In the 38th minute, Chaplin moved the ball wide to Wes Burns on the right from where the Wales international struck a shot which deflected wide off one-time Blues target Conor Townsend.
In the 43rd minute, the ball was played to Harry Clarke 30 yards out and the full-back brought it forward a few yards before hitting a shot which looked on its way over but which Palmer helped it on its way in any case. Town’s corner, like their previous three, came to nothing with their set pieces having been underwhelming.
As the half moved into the second minute of a very conservative additional two, referee Coote finally took action regarding the time-wasting, booking Darnell Furlong as he took a typically leisurely approach to taking a throw-in.
The boos at the half-time whistle - blown with Baggies defender Bartley down injured - were aimed at the referee for the inaction regarding West Brom’s time-wasting, which had started as soon as they had taken the lead.
Town had once again started slowly but had got themselves into the game and were largely in control when they were caught on the counter-attack, not for the first time during the half, for Fellows’s goal, although Woolfenden will feel he should have done much, much better.
From there, the Blues saw most of the ball and much of the game was played in the West Brom half but aside from Chaplin’s chance, which the Town top scorer really should have netted, few big chances had been created.
The Baggies had defended in numbers and kept things tight in the final third, making it difficult for the Blues to find space, while continuing to look a threat on the break.
But Town were far from out of it at the break and one moment of inspiration would find a way through the Baggies’ backline - with Bartley making way at the break and Nathaniel Chalobah taking over - and change the complexion of the match.
And that moment of inspiration came in the opening minute of the second period. After his long throw had been headed out, Clarke returned the ball, Edmundson flicked on and Broadhead did well to keep the ball down and guide it past Palmer from beyond the far post, the Welsh international’s ninth goal of the season, ending a run of eight matches without a goal.
The leveller changed the mood around Portman Road and the Blues remained on the front foot, winning a corner in the 49th minute which again came to nothing and led to a West Brom counter-attack. Clarke dived in on visitors skipper Jed Wallace 30 yards out and was booked and vehemently protested his innocence, however, the full-back appeared to have got the man before the ball. Albion were unable to make anything of the free-kick.
In the 54th minute, Morsy, who started his career with the Baggies greatest rivals Wolves, his hometown club, unleashed a powerful strike from distance which just flew over Palmer’s bar with the keeper appearing to get a touch, although referee Coote decided otherwise and gave a goal-kick.
West Brom made the game’s first changes on 56, Daryl Dike and Michael Johnston replacing Thomas-Asante and goalscorer Fellows.
Moments later, there was controversy when Weimann palmed the ball into the net at the far post after a cross from the right had reached him. Fortunately for the Blues, referee Coote spotted it, disallowed the goal and booked the former Aston Villa and Bristol City man.
As the game passed the hour mark, the game was continuing in a familiar pattern. The Blues were seeing most of the ball and were in control except when the lost it and West Brom looked dangerous on the break.
Palmer was forced into his best save of the afternoon on 61 when Burns cut back to Chaplin from the right and the forward hit a well-struck effort. Two minutes later, Clarke cut in from the right and his shot was blocked.
The Baggies were forced into a change in the 65th minute after sub Dike picked up an injury and was clearly upset having only just returned to fitness.
Swift took over but the game was subsequently held up as the stretcher cart picked up the stricken Albion player and took him back to the tunnel. Given the earlier time-wasting, the Town support was less than convinced that the cart had been required.
Town made their first changes of the afternoon in the 74th minute when Marcus Harness and Omari Hutchinson replaced Chaplin and Burns.
Seconds after the change, Okay Yokuslu played a backpass without looking, forcing Palmer to scramble back and slide the ball away from his line.
It was to prove an important interception with Albion taking the lead in the 77th minute. Harness lost out midway inside the Town half and the ball was eventually played to Swift, who struck a low 25-yard shot just inside Hladky’s right post, scuffing the woodwork on its way through.
The goal was harsh on the Blues, who had been well on top since the break but without creating many significant chances.
Town made two further changes on 83, Ali Al-Hamadi and Sarmiento replacing Luongo and Broadhead, while Albion swapped Pipa for Weimann.
Four minutes later, Hutchinson cut in from the right of the box and hit a low shot which was too close to Palmer.
On 88, Sarmiento sent over a dangerous low ball from the byline on the right, which took a deflection and Palmer was forced to dive and bat into the middle of his area but with no Town player on hand to seize on the opportunity.
The Blues had lost their impetus somewhat in the closing stages but the fourth official’s board indicating an additional eight minutes renewed the energy off the pitch, and on it.
In the third minute of added-on time, Clarke nodded the ball down to Moore, whose shot on the turn was diverted behind by Palmer.
And from the resultant corner, ahead of which the Blues had swapped Davis for Cameron Humphreys, Town scored their second equaliser. The ball was nodded out to Morsy, who took a touch before hitting a shot, which struck Swift and was diverted out to Hutchinson, who feinted before slamming a low shot through a crowd of players and into the net to send Portman Road wild.
The crowd sensed there was still time for the Blues to grab a leveller and the noise went up a notch for the final few minutes as Town put the Baggies under relentless pressure.
Town went close to grabbing a famous winner when Al-Hamadi powerfully hooked goalwards but Palmer reacted quickly to keep it out down to his left.
At the whistle, most of the Albion players crashed to the turf having given their all to keep Town out during the second half.
Town were well worth their late equaliser - which prevented West Brom inflicting the Blues’ second double of the season and the first back-to-back league defeats of McKenna’s time as boss - with the Baggies’ second goal having come via one of their very few second half chances, Town having been much the better side after the break, albeit without creating too many clear-cut chances even if for the third game running McKenna’s men had carved out more than 20 shots.
But once again Town found themselves having to launch a comeback after going behind relatively early on, something they’ve had to do all too regularly of late.
However, overall, despite the Blues having won only one in their last nine, it was a positive display and West Brom, who remain fifth, 11 points behind Town, will almost certainly take points off at least some of the other challengers towards the top of the division.
The Blues are next in action at Millwall on Wednesday with another away trip, to Swansea, next Saturday.
Town: Hladky, Clarke, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Davis (Humphreys 93), Morsy (c), Luongo (Al-Hamadi 83), Burns (Hutchinson 74), Chaplin (Harness 74), Broadhead (Sarmiento 83), Moore. Unused: Walton, Tuanzebe, Travis, Jackson.
West Brom: Palmer, Furlong, Townsend, Kipre, Bartley (Chalobah 46), Wallace (c), Weimann (Pipa 83), Thomas-Asante (Dike 56 (Swift 65)), Mowatt, Fellows (Johnston 55), Yokuslu. Unused: Griffiths, Pieters, Marshall, Hall. Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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