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Ipswich Town 4 v 3 Rotherham United
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 20th February 2024 Kick-off 19:45
Ipswich Town 4-3 Rotherham United - Match Report
Tuesday, 20th Feb 2024 22:11

Omari Hutchinson netted a dramatic winner five minutes into injury time a minute after Rotherham had levelled as Town came from behind to beat the bottom-of-the-table Millers 4-3 to climb to third in the Championship. Wes Burns scored twice and Kieffer Moore once as the Blues came from a goal down, scored by Tom Eaves in the second minutes, to give Town a 3-1 half-time lead but the South Yorkshiremen pulled one back via Hakeem Odoffin on the hour, then, with Town having been a shadow of their usual selves, Cafu netted a controversial penalty in the 94th minute before Hutchinson’s heroics a minute later won what could prove three vital points for the Blues.

Town made three changes from the team which won 2-1 at Swansea on Saturday with Burns, Jeremy Sarmiento and Lewis Travis coming into the XI.

Burns returned on the right for Hutchinson with Sarmiento on the left for Nathan Broadhead.

Travis started alongside skipper Sam Morsy in the centre of midfield for the first time with Massimo Luongo joining Hutchinson and Sarmiento on the bench.

The Millers made four changes from the team which lost 1-0 at home to Watford on Saturday with Sam Clucas, Tom Eaves, Lee Peltier and Jordan Hugill coming into the team for Cameron Humphreys, Sam Nombe and Charlie Wyke, who dropped to the bench, and Sebastian Revan, who was left out of the 20-man squad.

The game was less than a minute and a half old when the visitors took the lead from their first attack.

Luke Woolfenden and Harry Clarke seemed to get in one another’s way after Sam Clucas had brought a loose ball inside the full-back and the former Hull City man threaded through to Eaves, who confidently stroked past the advancing Vaclav Hladky to his left.

Town’s 13th goal conceded in the first 15 minutes in the Championship this season, more than anyone else in the division, caused frustration among the home support but not too much panic given the Blues’ comeback credentials.

After one or two passes had gone astray to a few moans - and Rotherham skipper Sean Morrison had been booked for a foul on Sarmiento - the Blues began to get their game together and in the 10th minute they levelled.

Morsy picked up the ball on the edge of the area following a free-kick and drove into the box before sending over a cross, which was met by Burns arriving at the far post, the Welshman nodding his fourth goal of the season across the face and into the corner of the net from 12 yards out.

Having got Town back on terms - via the 12th goal the Millers had conceded in the first 15 minutes of a Championship game this season - Burns wasn’t far away from giving his side the lead a minute later, bringing the ball forward into the right of the box before hitting a low shot across the face but just wide.

However, Town fans didn’t have to wait too much longer to see their team go in front.

On 14, Burns was again sent away on the right, this time by Clarke, the Wales international outpacing veteran Rotherham right-back Lee Peltier before sending over a low cross for Moore to slam home against the club where he made his name on loan from Town back in 2017. It was Moore’s first goal at Portman Road.

The on-loan AFC Bournemouth man has now scored four times in four starts and one sub appearance since rejoining the Blues, while Rotherham now match Town for goals conceded in the opening quarter of an hour.

As the game reached the 20-minute mark, Moore spent some time undergoing treatment on the pitch, having already been seen by the physio prior to his goal. The Wales international returned soon afterwards but not looking entirely comfortable.

Rotherham subsequently had a brief spell of pressure, which ended with Ollie Rathbone hitting low shot through to Hladky.

But that didn’t last long and in the 29th minute, the Blues increased their lead. Burns was again sent away around the outside of Peltier and smashed a shot which Millers keeper Viktor Johansson saved with his right leg.

The ball bounced out to Leif Davis on the left of the area, the full-back rather mishit his strike but Johansson was only able to palm it out to Burns, who tapped home from the edge of the six-yard box.

Not long after the goal, the game was held up for a lengthy spell after Rathbone collided with the advertising hoarding after a challenge with Sarmiento, appearing to have hit his head. The midfielder was eventually taken down the tunnel on the stretcher cart and replaced by Femi Seriki.

As the half moved into its final five minutes, Burns almost completed his hat-trick. Sarmiento crossed deep from the left and the Welshman headed into the ground but just wide of Johansson’s left post.

Three minutes later, Chaplin left the ball for Moore on the edge of the area and the striker looked to have a sight of goal before turning into a defender, perhaps not having expected it to have been allowed to run to him by his teammate.

The fourth official’s board indicated an additional 10 minutes, which had been anticipated after the lengthy hiatus due to Rathbone’s injury and the earlier stops due to Moore’s knock.

Having established their two-goal lead, the Blues had one or two shaky moments during time added on, Hladky fumbling a ball when diving to the left of his goal and Morsy turning it behind before Rotherham could profit.

Despite the sloppy end to the half, the whistle triggered applause from the Town support.

After the all-too-familiar early opposition goal, the Blues quickly gained the upper hand with Burns’s pace against Peltier down the right flank evidently having been spotted as an area which could be exploited.

And exploit it they did with the Welshman scoring twice, assisting once and having come close twice more. Burns and his teammates ought to have plenty of further opportunities after the break.

Nevertheless, it had been a rather disjointed end to the half, while Moore left the field at the end holding his right thigh.

However, the Welsh striker took his place as the teams lined-up for the second half but with Sarmiento making way having given away a number of fouls in dangerous areas in the spell before the break.

The second half began in a similar manner to the end of the first and on 51 there was another stoppage after Burns clashed heads with Peter Kioso and required treatment, but was able to carry on.

The half continued to be a stop-start affair, Christ Tiehi suffering what looked to be an ankle knock and requiring treatment but was also able to keep going.

Town had struggled to get a firm control on the game since the break and just after the hour, the Millers pulled a goal back.

A ball was pumped into the box by Clucas from the left, Hladky came but was unable to get much on his punch as he ran into a crowd of players and Odoffin passed into the empty net.

Another poor goal for the Blues to concede having been lacklustre since the latter stages of the first half.

Peltier was booked for a foul on Burns in the 62nd minute, then Chaplin cleverly fed in Burns with a pass from the left as the Welshman ran across the area from the right but Johansson was equal to it.

But Town were still some way off their best and on 71 sub Seriki headed well wide from a cross from the left.

A minute later, both sides made a double change, the Blues swapping Chaplin and Travis for Hutchinson and Luongo, after the Millers had switched Hugill and Peltier for Nombe and Humphreys.

Two minutes later, Clarke made way for Axel Tuanzebe, the former Arsenal man having suffered a knock.

Town continued to be unconvincing, Hladky and then Luongo giving the ball away in quick succession with the crowd showing their frustration and nerviness as the Millers continued to look for an equaliser.

And in the 80th minute, the South Yorkshiremen went very close, a cross from the right reaching Kioso beyond the far post from where the Irishman, who scored twice against the Blues in a 3-0 Northampton victory at Sixfields in April 2021, struck a low shot which hit the outside of Hladky’s right post.

The incident and Al-Hamadi replacing Moore led to the Portman Road crowd upping the volume, sensing their side needing them and the Blues began to play more of the game in the Rotherham final third.

Town, who looked to have been feeling the effects of three games in seven days, seemed to be given more energy going forward by their subs. Nevertheless, Rotherham were still seeing a lot of the ball and were prodding and probing for a leveller.

The Millers switched Andy Rinomhota for Cafu and Eaves for Wyke on 86, then Kayden Jackson - Town’s sixth sub, permitted as Rotherham were allowed a sixth as Rathbone was replaced with concussion - took over from Burns two minutes later.

Rotherham continue to push for the equaliser with the Blues still making heavy weather of getting the ball out of their final third, Hladky doing well to save Nombe’s effort from the left of the box, as the fourth official indicated eight additional minutes.

And three minutes into the additional time, Rotherham were awarded what looked a very harsh penalty.

Kioso went to ground with seemingly little or no contact from Jackson as he cut into the left of the box and referee Keith Stroud, who up to then had had one of his quieter evenings, pointed straight to the spot. On the touchline Blues boss McKenna made his frustration with the decision clear.

Cafu took the kick and as Hladky dived to his right, the Portuguese midfielder chipped a Panenka down the middle of the goal and into the net.

Rotherham levelling and time still being on the clock led to a surge in the noise around Portman Road and a minute after conceding, Town restored their lead.

Al-Hamadi played inside to Jackson on the right and the forward in turn fed Hutchinson, who took a touch before rifling a low shot past Johansson to his left and into the net to send Portman Road wild with a mixture of joy and relief.

Tuanzebe was shown a yellow card for time-wasting as the Blues sought to see out the final minutes with Rotherham looking for another equaliser.

But the Blues were not to be denied their third win in seven days and referee Stroud’s whistle led to another roar from the home support.

Aside from the spell in the first half in which the Blues went into a 3-1 lead, it was a far from vintage display from Town, who looked to be feeling the effects of having so many games in such a short space of time.

A Rotherham equaliser had seemed an increasingly likely prospect the longer the second half went on with a dubious penalty or a mistake leading to a goal always a possibility.

While some sides might have wilted after a difficult half and then conceding a late leveller, this team has shown time and again it is made of sterner stuff and it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the Blues were able to dig out an opportunity to claim their winner with Hutchinson once again finishing with great confidence.

A great result if not a brilliant performance which is made even better by Southampton’s 2-1 home defeat to Hull City, which moves to the Blues up to third in the table behind second-placed Leeds on goal difference alone.

Town were written off by many after their less than impressive spell over Christmas but as Rotherham now know to their cost, this Blues side should never be written off.

Town: Hladky, Clarke (Tuanzebe 74), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Burns, Travis (Luongo 72), Morsy (c), Burns (Jackson 88), Chaplin (Hutchinson 72), Sarmiento (Broadhead 46), Moore (Al-Hamadi 80). Unused: Walton, Harness, Humphreys.

Rotherham: Johansson, Clucas, Eaves (Wyke 86), Hugill (Nombe 71), Rinomhota (Cafu 86), Rathbone (Seriki 36), Peltier (Humphreys 72), Odoffin, Morrison (c), Tiehi, Kioso. Unused: Phillips, Lindsay, Ferguson, Appiah. Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire). Att: 28,026 (Rotherham: 145).

Photo: Matchday Images

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itfckenty added 22:13 - Feb 20
Well that was a rollercoaster.

CustardCream added 22:14 - Feb 20
A win is a win but my god that second half was painful.

Hladky, woolfy and clarke absolutely miles off it and Davis not much better either. If we don’t get top two then we won’t stand a chance in the play offs if we continue to concede so early.

Saxonblue74 added 22:15 - Feb 20
Felt like the bad old days for a while! Not sure I'll sleep tonight. Ultimately a fantastic night but bloody hell, that was a tough watch! Will need to improve for Saturday. Stroud was as bad as expected, really poor Ref. League table looks great though, anything other than a Leeds win Friday night and it'll be a great week.

Miaow added 22:15 - Feb 20
Get. In. There.

I predicted a seven-goal game, but not quite that scoreline...

Another poor goal conceded early on but we came back well, although the injury to their player rather disrupted things. I thought we’d be better in the second half but we weren’t, and I was just accepting that we’d hold on for a 3–2 win but then that stupid penalty came along. Failing to beat Rotherham at home would have been awful but Hutchinson came up with a brilliant finish and, thankfully, that was that.

I was surprised Al-Hamadi didn’t come on earlier and thought Travis had a good game before he was subbed. Our defence did not look hugely solid tonight, with Woolfenden and Clarke both having hairy moments, and Tuanzebe off the bench wasn’t particularly good. I was worried about us having made six substitutes but it seems like we were alright as one of Rotherham’s was for a concussion so we were allowed another. Although you could say we made seven as Cameron Humphreys came off the bench...

Then Keith Stroud decided to try and completely ruin things at the end but it wasn’t to be, thank God.

Painful to watch at times and we would have lost to better teams tonight but getting the win was the most important thing, and we did that – just about. We’ve had some late equalisers recently but not late winners, so this was overdue. And Southampton’s defeat makes things sweeter.

jungleboy added 22:16 - Feb 20
Worst performance by Town at home in years. We just couldn't win the ball from every knock down. What happened to our midfield. But saved by Burns and Hutchinson. Keiron will sort it out for Saturday.

leagueonescum added 22:19 - Feb 20
Changed my boxers twice. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't good but again the never say die attitude prevails. It's still on. COYB!

TimmyH added 22:20 - Feb 20
Well I know Rotherham are a bit of a bogey side for us but tonight we were really fortunate to get away with the 3 points - they won every 2nd ball showed more fight and physicality and probably a trait we suffer against. Good in attack at times and bad defensively.

1st half freedom of the right hand side of the pitch in which Burns strangely profited from against a 37 year old Peltier and other than 3 or 4 good passages of play we didn't do a lot else other than score, the 2nd half was far worse but still managed to score at the death against the run of play.

I think we can consider ourselves lucky tonight... I just wonder how many 'good' performances we'll put in between now and the end of the season which will no doubt be very nervy? the same probably for Leeds and Southampton whom lost tonight so somehow a GOOD night for us!

Bert added 22:20 - Feb 20
That was horrible. Our poorest second half performance this season. They had a plan and it worked. The back line was shocking. Not a game to celebrate apart from the 3 points and Southampton losing.

bluelodgeblue added 22:22 - Feb 20
A classic example of why we are not ready for the Premier League?

RobITFC added 22:23 - Feb 20
Well done and bad luck to Rotherham , you pressed us the whole game and made it hard for us to play our game. Some players looked dead on their feet tonight , hope they recover for another tough game on Saturday .

arc added 22:24 - Feb 20
I know it feels like a long time ago, but I don't think Phil's report just justice to our second goal—that was properly beautiful: great ball by Clarke, perfect cross by Wes, majestically calm finish by Kieffer. Lovely stuff.

But what to say about that second half? Yikes. We were laughing at HT at 3–1, looking like we’re going to score on every attack. And then decided to stop playing in the second half. Abysmal. Blew the lead (although the penalty for the equalizer was a bit of a joke) and deserved nothing. And then got a goal out of nowhere to win it. Three points. Bloody Hell. And Southampton lost.

I need a drink.

Broadbent23 added 22:25 - Feb 20
We robbed a bank tonight and the police almost caught us. A car crash, birth and a birthday all rapped in one hell of an entertaining match. Fair play to Rotherham for open play. Burnsy definitely deserves the MOM. Straight from the off it was going to be one of those games. Come to PR for goals. But from now we have 13 cup finals to win. It is difficult to criticise any of the players because they fought for the win right to the end. Brum next with Mark Venus in charge, I believe another battle to win. 3 points and the Saints defeated a good nite.

UhlenbeekDownTheWing added 22:27 - Feb 20
Am I the only person who has noticed we made SIX subs???

Any chance the EFL take these points back??

bobble added 22:27 - Feb 20
i knew it would be high scoring but not in this manner..

churchmans added 22:27 - Feb 20
Time for Walton to go back in goal from what I see tonight and last couple of games!

SpiritOfJohn added 22:27 - Feb 20
On the plus side tonight showed we can play badly and still win.

UhlenbeekDownTheWing added 22:28 - Feb 20
I’m not being daft right…five is the max???

Roo added 22:28 - Feb 20
On a positive aside from the win we are 18 points clear of 7th. Who would have believed that at the start of the season with 13 games to play. Incredible! Horrible game tonight but somehow we came through it! Keep it going lads and you never know !

Lightningboy added 22:29 - Feb 20
The main thing is the 3pts but my god that was shambolic...I don't understand why we have this obsession with fannying around with the ball at the back when we are blessed with the best set of attacking talent we've had here in nearly 25 years...get the ball to the attackers quicker...and can somebody have a word with Clarke & Woolfy to stop playing like Laurel & Hardy.

AND Keith Stroud is "still" the worst referee i've ever seen.

EC2_Blue added 22:31 - Feb 20
Can anyone be clear on why six subs were legitimate? Apols if this has been done to death.

warktheline added 22:31 - Feb 20
The bigger picture is we’ve bounced right back into contention for an automatic promotion with 3 straight wins! Another home game on Saturday! I remarked a couple of weeks ago that the next month would be very interesting and exciting! And for sure, it is!

Fat_Boy_Tim added 22:31 - Feb 20
Not many teams have been as Kryptonite to Town as Rotherham. We did what we needed to do. The Ref did his thing that lead to the passage of play that lead to the dive by Kioso that he gave as a pen but we survived and we are 69 points from 33 games. I don't think we'll play another team who do what Rotherham do for the rest of the season so good times ahead!

Northstandveteran added 22:31 - Feb 20
@ Uhlenbeek

Your question is answered by a knowledge poster on the half time report.

UhlenbeekDownTheWing added 22:32 - Feb 20
@Miaow - found reference to the six in your comment. Thanks for the explainer!! Am mightily relieved. Tonight’s been too much for me!!

delias_cheesy_flaps added 22:36 - Feb 20
KM was a relived man when the winner went in, not seen him so animated.
We were shockingly bad in the second half, if you can’t be good, be lucky, that certainly applies tonight!
Our defence is bordering on comical and I for one am getting fed up with the hospital balls our keeper and defenders play to each other other.

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