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Ipswich Town 3 v 2 Bristol City
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 5th March 2024 Kick-off 20:00
Ipswich Town 3-2 Bristol City - Match Report
Tuesday, 5th Mar 2024 22:14

Town came from behind twice to beat Bristol City 3-2 in a topsy-turvy rollercoaster classic at Portman Road, the second-placed Blues’ sixth win on the bounce. The Robins took the lead on 54 via Anis Mehmeti, before sub Ali Al-Hamadi levelled with his first home goal for the club. Bristol City restored their lead on 77 through sub Conway, but Conor Chaplin equalised again in the 80th minute before Al-Hamadi saw a penalty saved and Leif Davis won it in the penultimate minute with his first goal of the season.

Town boss Kieran McKenna made two changes from the team which won 2-0 at Plymouth on Saturday with Massimo Luongo and Marcus Harness returning to the XI.

Luongo, who missed the trip to Devon having been ill, came in in central midfield for Lewis Travis, who dropped to the bench, while Harness replaced Jeremy Sarmiento, who was also among the subs, in the attacking three behind central striker Kieffer Moore.

Burns, who had been out with a calf strain suffered in the 3-1 victory over Birmingham 10 days ago, was on the bench but Nathan Broadhead, who has a thigh problem suffered in the same game, remained sidelined.

Bristol City made three changes from the team which lost 1-0 at home to Cardiff City on Saturday with Cameron Pring, Harry Cornick and Mehmeti coming into the side for Haydon Roberts, Andy King and Mark Sykes, who dropped to the bench, where former Blues academy midfielder and coach Liam Manning was able to name only seven subs.

Town started brightly, taking the game to the Robins and winning an early free-kick when Joe Williams fouled Chaplin, who was making his 100th league start for the Blues. The set piece came to nothing with Luke Woolfenden ending up in the turf at the far post but making no claim for a penalty.

Bristol City gradually played themselves into the game and as the quarter hour was reached were seeing most of the ball. On 18, Cornick crossed from the right and Vaclav Hladky first punched into the air and then claimed.

But the Blues again began to see most of the ball, albeit without being at their most fluent with too many passes not finding their man.

On 22, Sam Morsy won a ball just inside the Blues half before playing a pass into the path of Moore, but the on-loan AFC Bournemouth man’s low shot failed to trouble Max O’Leary in the Robins’ goal.

Just after the half hour, Moore played in Chaplin on the right of the box but the forward chipped the ball into O’Leary’s arms, wasting a decent opportunity.

However, in the 33rd minute, the Blues were within a whisker of going in front. Davis whipped over a corner from the right, Moore flicked it on and Chaplin turned it against the woodwork from a tight angle at the far post, the ball ricocheting kindly for the Robins.

Five minutes later, Hladky was called into action when Nahki Wells, who had a trial with the Town academy as a youngster, flicked a header from Cornick’s right-wing cross towards goal, but the Czech keeper grabbed to his right.

As the half moved into its final five minutes, Morsy was challenged by Williams midway inside the Town half in a solid challenge, the Bristol City man coming off worse and requiring treatment before continuing. The Robins midfielder appeared to have jumped into the challenge but remonstrated towards Morsy for his role in the collision once play had stopped.

With the period in four additional minutes, right-back Axel Tuanzebe failed to reach Woolfenden with a pass played back towards the edge of the area, Wells pinched it and fed Jason Knight, a player Town eyed in the summer, but the former Derby midfielder’s shot deflected wide off Woolfenden.

The half ended with Blues fans frustrated that a free-kick hadn’t been awarded to their team - while Morsy and Williams exchanged views on the earlier tackle on their way off - after a frustrating 45 minutes which the Blues had largely controlled but without ever playing their best football or creating opportunities.

Chaplin wasted the best opportunity in open play, then came closest to opening the scoring when he struck the post from the Blues’ only corner of the half.

During the break, there was a face-off between locally-based boxer Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke, who meet on March 31st for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

The latter - who is from Burton - opted to wear a Norwich City shirt for the occasion, prompting boos from the Town support, while Wardley reiterated his Town support by waving a current home shirt.

The second half continued in the frustrated manner of the end of the first with Bristol City taking an age over throws adding to the home fans’ annoyance.

Town had still to really get going but with the visitors having offered little going forward. But as so often in those circumstances, in the 54th minute, the West Countrymen went in front.

Hutchinson was forced off the ball just inside the Robins’ half and Pring sent Mehmeti away on the left. The former Wycombe man brought the ball inside with Tuanzebe and Morsy not putting in a challenge for fear of conceding a penalty and hit a shot which clipped Woolfenden and beat Hladky to his right.

Six minutes later, Town almost went 2-0 behind. Wells cut inside from the right and curled a shot which fortunately for the Blues struck the far post.

In the aftermath, the ball was sent back over from the left and Knight nodded wide when the Irish international will feel he ought to have done better.

With Town not really having made much impact since the break, McKenna made a quadruple substitution, switching Moore, Hutchinson, Luongo and Harness for Al-Hamadi, Burns, Jack Taylor and Sarmiento as the game reached the hour mark with City swapping Cornick with Sykes.

And Town’s changes had an effect within a minute. Chaplin played a quick, direct ball for Burns down the right and the Welshman got round the back of two defenders before cutting back.

The ball missed everyone in the box but reached Davis breaking into the area and the left-back slammed a low shot which looked on its way in, however, Al-Hamadi showed a striker’s predatory instinct to stick out a toe to make sure, sending a releived Portman Road wild.

Davis may have seen what would have been his first goal of the season snatched from him but the former Leeds man will he happy enough with his 13th assist, more than anyone else in the division.

The goal saw the noise in the stadium turned up a notch for a few minutes, during which time Cameron Burgess heading a Morsy free-kick straight at the keeper, but Bristol City played themselves out of the spell and started to look dangerous again.

And on 75, they weren’t far away from going back in front. Mehmeti was found on the left, again cut in and struck an effort which was destined for the top corner until Hladky brilliantly got across to his left to flip it away. The Robins tried to follow-up but the flag had been raised.

McKenna immediately swapped Tuanzebe, who was looking a little leggy aftter playing three games in a row for the Blues for the first time, for Harry Clarke. On 76, the visitors replaced Wells with Tommy Conway.

And within a minute, Conway had put the Blues behind for a second time. Sykes just reached a ball played down the right and sent over what seemed a hopeful cross which reached fellow sub Conway, who looped a header over Hladky, under the bar and into the corner of the net.

Town and the Portman Road faithful had been frustrated with referee David Webb’s lack of action regarding some of the Robins’ more niggly fouls throughout the game, but on 80 he finally acted, booking Ross McCrorie for a foul on the left.

And from the resultant free-kick, the Blues levelled again. Davis whipped a well-struck ball to the near post and Chaplin flicked his 12th goal of the season into the roof of the net at the near post, while Davis took his tally of assists to 14, equalling a record for a season in the Championship from a defender held by another former Leeds man, Barry Douglas, while at Wolves and England international Kieran Trippier during his loan spell at Burnley.

Town went looking for the winner and in the 84th minute, they were given a great chance to grab it.

Burns burst into the area on the right before being felled by Pring as he was about to shoot. For once, referee Webb ruled in Town’s favour and pointed to the spot.

After protracted arguing from Bristol City in which keeper O’Leary was booked, Al-Hamadi rather than Chaplin, perhaps surprisingly, took the kick but hit it too close to the keeper, who saved down to his right.

The collective groan which rang around Portman Road didn’t last for long, the crowd sensing they had to play their part.

And in the 89th minute, the Blues scored their third goal. Sarmiento nodded on a cross-field ball wide to Davis as he broke into the area, the former Leeds man took a touch and O’Leary rather sold himself by advancing too far, allowing the Town left-back to stroke the ball towards goal, a defender sliding it in when it already looked to be nestling inside the post.

Davis’s first of the season had finally come and had sent Portman Road into raptures.

The fourth official’s board indicated eight additional minutes with the Blues continuing to push for more goals.

And in the fourth minute of time added on, after Pring had been booked for a foul on Burns, they went very close to a fourth.

Taylor worked the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the box before smashing a shot which beat O’Leary but smashed off the post to the keeper’s left. Sarmiento was first to the rebound and having found himself space was thwarted by the keeper.

Town continued to press forward, Sarmiento was upended on the edge or possibly inside the area but with referee Webb not awarding anything.

Deep in injury time, Chaplin saw an effort blocked and the ball ran out to Burns on the right, but the Welshman, who otherwise had had a brilliant half an hour on the pitch, blazed well into the stand.

The final whistle, which came after Al-Hamadi had been booked for time-wasting, was greeted by a huge cheer around the ground after yet another Portman Road rip-roarer, the seventh time in the league this season the Blues have come from behind to win.

Town were far from their usual selves for 60 minutes but once again the substitutions changed the game with Burns down the right causing constant havoc.

As has become familiar, the Blues showed no sign of being downcast after going behind or after Al-Hamadi missed the penalty and kept going until they found the winning goal.

The result, a sixth win on the trot for the first time at second tier level for the first time since the 1991/92 season, the last year in which the Blues won automatic promotion to the top flight, sees Town stay second, still three points behind Leicester and ahead of Leeds in third by two points, both the Foxes and Whites also winning.

Town are in action again when they travel to Cardiff City on Saturday, looking for a seventh successive win in the second tier for the first time since a run at the end of 1988/89 and 1989/90.

Town: Hladky, Tuanzebe (Clarke 75), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo (Taylor 60), Hutchinson (Burns 61), Chaplin, Harness (Sarmiento 61), Moore (AL-HAmadi 61). Unused: Walton, Travis, Humphreys, Jackson. 

Bristol City: O'Leary, McCrorie, Pring, Williams, Cornick (Sykes 62), Mehmeti, Knight (c), Dickie, Wells (Conway 76), Gardner-Hickman, Vyner. Subs: Bajic, King, Conway, Sykes, Roberts, Knight-Lebel, Mebude. Referee: David Webb (Lancashire). Att: 28,001 (Bristol City: 410).

Photo: Matchday Images

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Bluebacker added 22:16 - Mar 5
Just incredible! The mentality and fighting spirit of this team just continues to astonish me. Our substitutions help change the game again. A lot of teams would have dropped their heads after the missed penalty but not us. The effort this group of players gives us is very special.

boroughblue added 22:16 - Mar 5
Emotions shot to absolute pieces, no idea how I meant to get to sleep for work tomorrow after that!

Incredible win! Really poor performance really on the whole, but my god these boys do not give up! Start taking us seriously, we’re taking this promotion battle to the end!


jungleboy added 22:18 - Mar 5
What a difference the subs made. Burns tore them apart again!

chepstowblue added 22:20 - Mar 5
We were appalling for an hour. How on earth this side are able to rouse themselves is truly astonishing. Even when the performance is substandard the character is remarkable. There is nothing that they're not capable of. I don't like having to sit through one half of dross and regularly going one down, but it does seem to stir us. Breathless and brilliant.

Suffolkboy added 22:22 - Mar 5
Crazy crazy tensions just following on BBC text ; but the feeling ITFC will never ever give up sustains hope and fires belief !
This is incredible stuff — well done all who pull on the ITFC shirts !

LimerickTractorBoy added 22:23 - Mar 5

Reality_2021 added 22:24 - Mar 5
Great to see the score at the final whistle. Lucky that Wells hit the post as could have made a different game.

Why do the refs not book players for blatant time wasting on throw ins and goal kicks in the Championship!?! Shocking the amount of time they were using.

warktheline added 22:28 - Mar 5
We are the ‘entertainers’! Phenomenal performance considering how Bristol City continually frustrated our system and led twice before being gunned down!

bobble added 22:31 - Mar 5

Broadbent23 added 22:31 - Mar 5
PR keeps on giving. Tonite felt like Shakespeare - Comedy of Errors - Henry V - As you like it. What a game. Give Bristol City their due they made us work hard. We are still second . Leeds and Leicester victories were not convincing and our win ups the pressure on them. Not our best but we take any win. COYB.

SpiritOfJohn added 22:40 - Mar 5
Very flat first half performance. Totally inept refereeing and also poor decision-making from our players with only Morsy looking his usual self. Bristol's first goal woke us up and then the subs came on and lifted the game to another level.
Bristol's second goal and the penalty miss would have been big setbacks to most teams. Not this lot! We've had more comebacks than Rocky this season and we've got plenty more in the tank.
No wonder Sky keep putting us on the box.

jungleboy added 22:41 - Mar 5
Davis had a hand in every goal. And well done for the winner!

Foreverdon_Blue added 22:42 - Mar 5
Incredible, just incredible!

Europablue added 22:43 - Mar 5
My 5 year old son told me this afternoon that Leif Davis isn't his favourite player anymore because he doesn't score goals. His new favourite is Sarmiento. I predicted Davis to score today, I should have put some money on it.
My son will be happy tomorrow morning!

inghamspur added 22:44 - Mar 5
That was some game!! Never say die. One of the worst refereeing performances I've witnessed, on a par with Stroud. He'll be in the Premier League next season.

Lightningboy added 22:46 - Mar 5

I'm going for a lie down til Saturday.


gpstracker added 22:47 - Mar 5
Hutchinson and Harness in the first half why not swap wings occasionally to give the other full back a run round, a simple tactic, Bristol City's defence were on you all the half.

Europablue added 22:48 - Mar 5
You can just feel it, we are in the middle of something very special. As long as there is a little bit of time on the clock you would always back us to score. It felt like a blue tide coming in.
Bristol City played so well, their first goal was fortunate, but the luck balanced out when they almost scored a very good goal. Then we get one back, but they go and score again Leif probably shouldn't have let the cross come in, but where was Burgess for that one?! It was a very good finish, but we should have at least challenged him.

SussexTractor added 22:49 - Mar 5
Davis deserved player of the match (with Burns second). Kieran McKenna however won the man of the match by an inspired mass substitution, which changed the game, we were fairly hopeless before then.

MBG added 22:50 - Mar 5
We seem to make heavy weather of beating these teams at home - Port Vale last season and more recently Rotherham and Bristol City. This is the seventh time this season we've fallen behind and come back to snatch victory. It must be really frustrating for Leeds and Southampton. There are now ten games to go and anything can happen. But with the character of this team one thing is for sure - if we don't win automatic promotion it won't be because we couldn't cope with the pressure.

TimmyH added 22:51 - Mar 5
Might as well copy and paste what I wrote after the Rotherham game :) Sub par performance other than once the subs came on but a lot of credit for that has to go to Bristol for that organised display up until then.
We have now the squad/subs that can come on and make a difference, tonight Burns, Sarmiento etc. and this really has been the case for a while now, we can have moments after not playing well where we score.
Still defensive issues and they'll continue til' the end of the season: Woolfie, Davis (great up front but still a lot to learn on the defensive side so be warned Newcastle, West Ham) :) Also have to credit little Connor for his headed goals putting lunks like Woolfie and Burgess in the shade from set pieces, Luongo another quiet display and please no more Harness starts, Burns just my MOTM for some much needed energy just at the right time!

So well done all tonight, it really is a case of 'any which way we can' at the moment...what entertainment!

Saxonblue74 added 22:52 - Mar 5
I can't cope!! Please don't put me through the play offs!!

MrDiddle added 22:57 - Mar 5
The whole team have an insane amount of belief coursing through their veins. So many parallels to last season. Amazing to watch whether good, bad or ugly.

Leicester, Leeds and Southampton might fancy their chances buying their way out of the Championship. We’ll do it by steamrolling our way through them all!

Up the town!!

ArnieM added 23:00 - Mar 5
Outstanding never say due belief from the boys against a good Bristol side in my view. We move on to Cardiff now. But not more of the same because my bloody heart can’t take it!!

dizzle added 23:10 - Mar 5
Just love the idea of the Leeds and Leicester lot finishing their games and getting all excited at seeing us 2-1 down - only for us to go and bang in 2 more! Amazing scenes. COYB!!

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