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Ipswich Town 1-1 Birmingham City - Half-Time
Saturday, 24th Feb 2024 16:08

Conor Chaplin gave the Blues the lead on 31, but Jordan James levelled for Birmingham City in injury time to leave the scoreline 1-1 at half-time at Portman Road.

Town boss Kieran McKenna made three changes from the team which beat Rotherham United 4-3 on Tuesday with Axel Tuanzebe, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Broadhead returning to the team.

Tuanzebe replaced Harry Clarke, who suffered a severe dead leg against the Millers, at right-back, while Luongo and Broadhead came in for Lewis Travis and Jeremy Sarmiento in central midfield and on the left respectively. All three players who dropped out were on the bench.

Birmingham, who have former Blues defender Mark Venus in charge at present with fellow Town legend Tony Mowbray away from the club for six-to-eight weeks to undergo medical treatment, made one change from the team which beat Sunderland 2-1 at St Andrew’s last week with skipper Dion Sanderson replacing Krystian Bielik, who missed out on a place in the 20-man squad, at the heart of the defence.

Former Town midfielder Andre Dozzell and long-time target Jay Stansfield both started for the visitors.

The Blues struck the game’s first shot in the fourth minute, a loose ball falling to Broadhead on the right of the box and the Welshman’s effort catching a Birmingham player and going behind for a corner.

From the flag-kick, the ball was half-cleared to Luongo just outside the area and the Australian’s low shot deflected wide off an offside Town player, according to the linesman.

As the clock ticked over the five-minute mark, both sets of fans applauded their support for Birmingham boss and former Blues captain and coach Mowbray.

During the ovation, Wes Burns was sent away on the right by Chaplin, the Wales international sending a low ball across the box towards Kieffer Moore at the far post but Marc Roberts somehow slid in to take it away from the Town striker, who otherwise would have scored.

On seven, Chaplin played a clever pass which fed in Moore on the right of the area but the on-loan AFC Bournemouth man blazed high and wide to the right of goal when he probably should have shot across Birmingham keeper John Ruddy.

Three minutes later, Moore spurned another opportunity after reacting quickly to arrive first at a loose ball on the right of the box but scuffed a shot well wide from a tight angle.

Town continued their very bright start and within a minute, Leif Davis sent a ball in from the left to Chaplin, who had been left completely unmarked just inside the area, but the forward was unable to get any power on his shot and ex-Norwich City keeper Ruddy claimed comfortably.

The Blues maintained their dominance and on the quarter hour Moore was found in a decent position on the left of the area but opted to cut back towards Chaplin, however, slightly behind the former Pompey man.

On 18, Luongo did well to keep the ball in play on the left and cut across to Moore, whose sliding effort at the near post was diverted over.

From the flag-kick, Chaplin powered a header towards goal but Ruddy showed strong hands to push it away to his left.

In the 20th minute, Chaplin again won the ball in the air but was only able to loop over from a Broadhead free-kick on the right.

While Birmingham prepared to take the goal-kick, the Blues were forced into a change, Burns making way for Omari Hutchinson, the Wales international having taken to the turf with an injury on a couple of occasions.

Hutchinson was quickly into the action, making space on the right before clipping over a cross towards Moore, which the Midlanders were able to clear.

Town, who had rarely been as dominant in any game this season, kept up the pressure, Chaplin curling a 23rd minute shot which looked destined for the top corner until Marc Roberts got in its way and sent it out for another Blues corner.

Birmingham started to see more of the ball and hit their first shot of the game in the 26th minute, but Tyler Roberts’s effort struck Cameron Burgess directly in front of him.

A Town goal had been coming for most of the first half hour but it finally came following the visitors’ first spell on top.

Hutchinson teed-up Morsy in a central position 20 yards out and the skipper hit a shot which looked on target but which Chaplin deftly deflected towards the opposite corner, beating the wrong-footed Ruddy to his left, the keeper claiming offside along with a number of his teammates, and they may have had a case.

But no flag came and Chaplin and the rest of the Town team celebrated the forward’s 11th goal of the season, bringing him level as top scorer with Broadhead.

Having finally got their noses in front, the Blues went chasing a second goal. On 38, Hutchinson twisted and turned and worked himself space to stand up a cross for Moore at the far post. The striker rose above his man but his header was too close to Ruddy.

On 43, Birmingham forced Vaclav Hladky into a rare save, Tyler Roberts hitting a shot from a tight angle on the right which the Czech keeper palmed behind. Ahead of the corner, Burgess was yellow-carded, for what wasn’t immediately obvious.

In the first of four minutes of injury time, Birmingham levelled. Broadhead lost the ball in a promising position just inside the visitors’ half and the Midlanders broke down the right. Koji Miyoshi burst into the right of the area and cut back to James, who powerfully swept first time past Hladky.

Town almost restored their lead within a minute. Broadhead was found on the left of the box, found himself space and hit a shot which rippled the side-netting, fooling some in the ground into thinking it had gone in.

The 1-1 half-time scoreline was hardly a fair reflection of the period as a whole, the Blues having been well in control for most of the first 45 minutes.

Town had had plenty of chances to go in front prior to Chaplin’s inventive finish but had been unable to take any of them and were, as has been the case on more than a few occasions this season, then hit by a sucker punch on the break.

Despite the setback, on the evidence of the first half, the Blues should have enough to claim all three points in the second period.

Town: Hladky, Tuanzebe, Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo, Burns (Hutchinson 20), Chaplin, Broadhead, Moore. Subs: Walton, Clarke, Humphreys, Travis, Harness, Sarmiento, Jackson, Al-Hamadi.

Birmingham: Ruddy, Drameh, M Roberts, Sanderson (c), Laird, Dozzell, Paik, Miyoshi, T Roberts, James, Stansfield. Subs: Etheridge, Buchanan, Bacuna, Hogan, Dembele, Jutkiewicz, Gardner, Sunjic, Aiwu. Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

Photo: Matchday Images

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SickParrot added 16:19 - Feb 24
As we rarely play well in both halves, we may regret not taking more of our many chances in that first half. We should be at least 3 -1 ahead. I expect Birmingham to have more of the ball second half, so they are likely to score again. We will need to keep up our tempo and be much more clinical to win.

blueboy1981 added 16:24 - Feb 24
Has Portman Road become a Benevolent Society ??

arc added 16:31 - Feb 24

Nathan Broadhead has completely lost his mojo. I hope he finds it soon, because we need his best self back fast! :-)

SickParrot added 16:39 - Feb 24
KM must let Al Hamadi off the leash now!

Linkboy13 added 11:19 - Feb 26
This was a good performance yet so called fans on local radio were saying we were not at our best some numpty called Danny who says that every week do people actually watch the game every game in the championship is hard (rant over). I thought Nathan Broadhead was looking sharp and dangerous before he got injured. Kieron McKenna will slowly introduce Al Hamadi when he's ready he's working on improving his fitness in training. Tuanzebe was excellent on Saturday seemed like we had a extra defender at the back probably because of his positional sense. Moore is getting extra attention from defenders that's creating a bit more space for others. We not playing Exeter every week so stop moaning it's been a fantastic season against teams with greater resources than us (rant back) COYB.

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