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Ipswich Town 3 v 1 Birmingham City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 24th February 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 3-1 Birmingham City - Match Report
Saturday, 24th Feb 2024 17:13

Conor Chaplin, Jeremy Sarmiento and Omari Hutchinson were on target as Town made it four wins out of four by beating Birmingham City 3-1 at Portman Road. Chaplin gave the Blues the lead with a deft flick from a Sam Morsy shot in the 31st minute as the home side dominated the first half, but Jordan James levelled for the visitors in first-half injury time and Town had to wait until the 81st minute to go back in front via Sarmiento from an Axel Tuanzebe cutback, then Hutchinson sealed a thoroughly deserved victory with his second injury time goal in two games.

Town boss Kieran McKenna made three changes from the team which beat Rotherham United 4-3 on Tuesday with 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.

Birmingham struck the second half’s first effort a minute after the restart, Ethan Laird shooting wide from not far outside the box following a free-kick to the visitors.

On 50, Luongo was booked for a foul on Paik Seung-Ho for a foul on halfway, but Town quickly began to take control.

Three minutes later, Chaplin felt he should have been awarded a penalty after he appeared to be hauled over by Dozzell as the pair ran towards a ball into the box. Referee Ward showed no interest.

Town did, however, win a corner, from which Tuanzebe headed into the ground and towards the top corner but Ruddy was able to claim.

The official irked the Blues forward and the Portman Road crowd again moments later when Dozzell again seemed to foul Chaplin midway inside the Birmingham half, but once more Ward was reluctant to give a foul.

Moments later, Morsy was booked, the Town skipper having used his hand to holdthe subsequent Birmingham attack up and showed his frustration with the lack of the earlier free-kick.

In the 58th minute, Birmingham broke and Stansfield was found beyond the far post with a cross-field ball but shanked is volley into the stand.

Town were forced into their second substitution of the afternoon in the 60th minute, Broadhead making way for Sarmiento having picked up a knock.

Two minutes later, the visitors made a triple change, Ivan Sunjic, Juninho Bacuna and Siriki Dembele replacing Tyler Roberts, Paik and Dozzell.

Bacuna immediately caused Town a problem, hitting an early shot from an angle on the left which Hladky wasn’t expecting but was able to get across goal to turn wide.

Town had briefly found themselves under the cosh with Morsy uncharacteristically booting the ball away from the edge of the area to end a Birmingham attack.

But the Blues weren’t far away from going back in front in the 67th minute when Hutchinson was found in space on the right by Moore, brought the ball forward, cut in and hit a shot which Ruddy pawed behind to his left.

A minute later, some neat approach work ended with Chaplin playing to Sarmiento on the edge of the box but the Ecuadorian international’s shot was too high.

Town were beginning to put the visitors under more sustained pressure once again and in the 74th minute Hutchinson crossed from the right and Davis looped a header into Ruddy’s arms from deep on the left of the box.

Two minutes later, Hutchinson crossed from the right after a well-worked move and crossed for Sarmiento, but the on-loan Brighton man’s scuffed effort wafted across the face of goal.

Play quickly moved to the other end and Stansfield forced Hladky into a save with a strike from just outside the area, the keeper not entirely comfortably sending the ball out to the Town left.

In the 78th minute, after more good work from Hutchinson, Chaplin saw a shot blocked, then Morsy forced Ruddy to save down to his left. The on-loan Chelsea man went after the rebound and reached it at a very tight angle, sending it out of play as Ruddy upended him but referee Ward wasn’t interested in Town’s penalty appeals.

The Blues had been building up a head of steam and in the 83rd minute, they went back in front.

Hutchinson fed in Tuanzebe, advancing deep into the right of the box for the first time, and the former Manchester United man cut back to Sarmiento, who stroked his third goal for the Blues into the net from six yards. Portman Road celebrated with a mixture of delight and relief.

Birmingham made another change on 86, Gary Gardner replacing Cody Drameh, before Chaplin went down with what looked a concerning injury but following treatment was able to continue.

However, the Blues were taking no chances with Chaplin, who had put in another excellent performance, and swapped him for Marcus Harness, celebrating his 28th birthday today, in the final scheduled minute as the fourth official indicated an additional six minutes.

And in the second minute of time added on, the Blues secured the three points. Hutchinson was played in on goal by Moore flick and showed composure and confidence beyond his years to slip the ball past Ruddy and into the net, the on-loan Chelsea man’s sixth goal for the Blues and second in injury time in two games.

That was the last significant action before referee Ward’s whistle triggered another huge roar around Portman Road.

The win, Town’s fourth in four games, sees the Blues remain level on points with second-placed Leeds but now five in front of Southampton in fourth, the Saints having lost 2-1 at home to Millwall this afternoon, their third loss in four matches.

The Blues thoroughly deserved the win. Rarely have they dominated a half as much as they did the first period, the Maidstone cup tie aside, and deserved to be well ahead at the break.

The second half performance drifted around the middle of the period but the changes reinvigorated the Blues and a goal had been coming when Sarmiento converted the cutback from Tuanzebe, who had been hugely impressive throughout.

Hutchinson, who looks better and better with every game, cemented the victory with a confident finish.

Town now have a free midweek before they travel to Plymouth Argyle, who won 2-0 away at Middlesbrough today, next Saturday.

Town: Hladky, Tuanzebe, Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo, Burns (Hutchinson 20), Chaplin (Harness 90), Broadhead (Sarmiento 60), Moore. Unused: Walton, Clarke, Humphreys, Travis, Jackson, Al-Hamadi.

Birmingham: Ruddy, Drameh (Gardner 86), M Roberts, Sanderson (c), Laird, Dozzell (Dembele 64), Paik (Bacuna 64), Miyoshi, T Roberts (Sunjic 64), James, Stansfield. Unused: Etheridge, Buchanan, Hogan, Jutkiewicz, Aiwu. Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey). Att: 29,363 (Birmingham: 1,979)

Photo: Matchday Images

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johnwarksshorts added 17:17 - Feb 24
Can we dare to dream about the Prem! Super subs strike yet again for Town!! COYB!!

IpswichT62OldBoy added 17:18 - Feb 24
The beat goes on.
We are now 3rd in the current form table, up from 17th three weeks ago.
We must sign Hutch when we go up.

warktheline added 17:20 - Feb 24
Write this team off at your peril! Reality check for some! I’m bouncing !

Broadbent23 added 17:21 - Feb 24
It feels like we held our nerve and grinded out another good win. I hope Burnsy injury is not bad. It looks like Southampton have hit a wobble and will lose again against Liverpool in the cup will hit their confidence levels. Hopefully Leeds future fixtures will hamper them and then we can squeeze back into second spot. 3 points gained and a 20 point difference for play off places. Believe.

therein61 added 17:23 - Feb 24
We huffed and puffed at times and stood still for their goal yet again the boys earn 3 points(very much needed with results around us) putting us in a good place and send Neil Harris a bottle of bubbly!!!

blueboy1981 added 17:23 - Feb 24
Well Done All - good Recovery 2nd Half.
Hutch’ is a sure Talent, and Kieffer has made an amazing impact in very short time - as I knew he would !

SickParrot added 17:27 - Feb 24
A very good performance and well deserved win. I was expecting Al Hamadi to come off the bench to score but he wasn't needed thanks to Hutchinson (again) and Sarmiento.

Drifter3012 added 17:28 - Feb 24
. Another great deserved victory. We need to keep thus going like last season. Leeds might not wobble but Leicester might as Saints have & we need to keep pressing them all the way. Maybe not having to play in the F A cup this week will play in our favour.

Lukeybluey added 17:32 - Feb 24
Well done Town! Great win deserved win! On to the next. COYB's!

Billysherlockblue added 17:35 - Feb 24
Axel mom after a shakey start. The way we play we'll always be giving out about our defence however we need to be more aggressive in that are. Eg for gods sake dominate and challenge. Axel and morsey standouts prob chapps and burns before injury. But well done one and all. Keep it going. We do look a little sluggish and leggy at times. Coyb. 100 per cent will win you every time

ThaiBlue added 17:36 - Feb 24
Super week for Town think we can get 2nd for sure.dont no what happened on follow 2nd half was terrible.

Davidwb20 added 17:38 - Feb 24
This team just keeps giving, Hutchinson is such a great talent to have on the bench. Leicester and Southampton are wobbling which is great for us. Hopefully we have had our wobble and it’s onwards and upwards to the promised land.

IpswichT62OldBoy added 17:39 - Feb 24
Want to see Leeds and Foxes get as far as possible in the FA Cup, Ideally semifinals that go to extra time.

blueboy1981 added 17:39 - Feb 24
Win, Win, Win - that HAS to be the 100% Focus from this point - then ….. Who Know’s ??

EssexTractor added 17:41 - Feb 24
Axel grew into this game , excellent at the end
Omari, simply class
Morsy again a driving force
Burgess calm assured at the back
Overall thoroughly good team performance

RobITFC added 17:44 - Feb 24
Leicester have some tough fixtures coming up, 2defeats on the bounce us and Leeds chasing them down , they must be bricking it

Suffolkboy added 17:46 - Feb 24
Cannot be any doubt that KM and co have ensured ITFC had a great pre season , building fitness and stamina which ,with our spirit, is taking every opponent to the wire . The almost relentless efforts simply do not allow defences any relaxation and ‘late ‘goals are bringing home the points !
Super dooper Blues !!

Bluebacker added 17:46 - Feb 24
We were superb. Birmingham rarely threatened and it always felt like we would be the ones to come out on top. Chaplain and Burns were so in tune before the latter got injured, it's like they can read each others minds. Omari man of the match (if only he was ours!), and special mention for Tuanzebe who probably would have liked to play more recently but has come in and played his best game in a town shirt to date.

GrasmereBlue added 17:47 - Feb 24
Wow, what a great result. Hutchinson super sub again. Carry on like the this and then who knows, particularly when you look at our remaining fixtures. COYB!

Bert added 17:49 - Feb 24
Normal service resumed. Gritty but effective. MoM Hutchinson imo.

TimmyH added 17:50 - Feb 24
Good win! played well 1st half and should have gone in at half time ahead...looked to be flagging a bit 2nd half before we went ahead...but we now have some dynamic players that can score even in quieter spells and change the outcome of games.

Thought the intro of Hutch changed things (again) and Axel had one of his best games in a Town shirt - 4 wins on the bounce after a rather winless spell is just what the doctor ordered!

Bergholtblue added 18:01 - Feb 24
I just hope injuries to Burns ans Chaplin are not serious. Having said that, our squad is so strong that the players coming in are more than good enough.

pablo123 added 18:03 - Feb 24
Fantastic win today , I was worried we might be tired 2nd half as we did midweek , but fair play to the lads !!! Thoroughly deserved the win today !! And soton lost , brilliant day !!!

jas0999 added 18:17 - Feb 24
Very dominate performance. Thoroughly deserved victory. Well done to all!

magnus68 added 18:42 - Feb 24
Hutch is different class :)
Great start for once, and KM is brilliant with his signings.
Thx for a great afternoon.

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