Match report: Fulham 4 Ipswich Town 1 – Silly Spence red card precedes seven minute collapse
PUBLISHED: 22:21 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 23:32 02 January 2018
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Ipswich Town fell apart after Jordan Spence’s dismissal early in the second half, conceding four goals in seven disastrous minutes to lose 4-1 at Fulham this evening.
The Blues weathered an early storm in wet and windy conditions and led through Joe Garner’s brave header in the final minute of the first half.
Spence’s silly act of retribution on Aboubakar Kamara in the 54th minute, a robust off-the-ball barge, left Town with 10 men and a mountain to climb though.
Ryan Sessegnon headed home a 69th minute equaliser to spark what, in cricket terms, was a middle-order collapse of epic proportions. Kamara rammed the hosts in front (72) moments later, Sessegnon tapped home third (74) with Kamara rifling home the fourth (76).
To rub salt in the wounds, the Blues – who drop to 12th in the Championship table and are now seven points adrift of the play-off places – saw Grant Ward limp off with a groin injury to join an already packed treatment room.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy made two changes to the side which lost 2-1 at home to Derby on Saturday. The injured Adam Webster (Achilles) was replaced in defence by Tommy Smith, the latter having made just six starts in the entirety of 2017 following back surgery, while Cole Skuse returned to the team following a three game absence (bruised ankle) at the expense of Kevin Bru.
Meanwhile, it was a surprise to see Luke Hyam on bench, the midfielder having not featured in the first team since the final game of 2015/16 due to a string of injuries.
Direct-running Fulham were the side who took the game by the scuff of the neck, dominating the opening 25 minutes.
Ryan Fredericks and Floyd Ayite produced dangerous low crosses, Stefan Johansen fired just over from the edge of the box, while Bartosz Bialkowski had to make a smart near post stop from powerful striker Kamara.
Callum Connolly and Luke Chambers also made blocks in the box and that was all inside 12 minutes, with the one-way traffic continuing as Johansen, Sheyi Ojo and Oliver Norwood all fired just wide from outside the area.
However, as the weather got worse, Town looked to have ridden the storm and gradually got a foothold in the game, finally beginning to string a few passes together.
That said, there was a huge let-off for the Blues in the 40th minute when Kamara somehow failed to connect with Neeskens Kebano’s teasing cross in the middle of the six-yard box.
And there was a further setback in the 44th minute when Ward limped off to be replaced by Freddie Sears as Town’s injury curse claimed another victim.
Despair turned to jubilation moments later though after Connolly won a foul down the right. Waghorn whipped in one of his trademark wicked set-piece deliveries and Garner stooped bravely to head home in a crowded box.
It sparked joyous celebrations down by the corner flag as Blues players slipped and slided on the rain-soaked surface.
Town started the second half defending well, but their backs-to-the-wall task was made all the harder with Spence’s straight red card in the 54th minute.
Kamara looked to have barged Sears over on the ball but, with no foul given, Spence arrived very late to smash through Kamara in retribution. It was a reckless, stupid act, but Kamara’s rolling around on the floor was also pathetic.
McCarthy responded by sacrificing winger Celina for right-back Dominic Iorfa. Moments later, Fulham substitute Lucas Piazon was booked for diving in the box, with replays showing he had gone to ground when nowhere near Iorfa’s trailing leg.
The Cottagers’ breakthrough came when Kamara’s low cross was brilliantly kept alive by Neeskens Kebano at the back post and Sessegnon’s header sneaked between Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen on the line.
They soon led when Kebano’s cross was deflected back to the edge of the box and, after Oliver Norwood’s shot fell kindly at his feet in the box, Kamara rammed the ball home from close-range to leave Craven Cottage rocking.
Goal three was brilliantly worked, with classy midfielder Tom Cairney feinting twice in the box to tee up Sessegnon for a tap-in.
Then Kamara drifted inside from the left and fired through a crowded box to complete the scoring.