Ipswich Town 1-2 West Brom: Well-backed Blues can't make their point despite late rally in valiant West Brom loss
PUBLISHED: 21:52 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 22:45 23 November 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
A vocal Portman Road crowd couldn't help bridge a gap in quality as Ipswich Town fell to a valiant 2-1 defeat to West Brom this evening.
Jay Rodriguez and Harvey Barnes scored the goals to ensure the high-flying Baggies left with three points, on a night where just short of 23,000 fans gathered inside Portman Road as they responded to manager Paul Lambert’s call for unity as his side battles against the drop.
But, despite the vocal support from the terraces and a Kayden Jackson goal which forced a grandstand finish, the quality of the recently-relegated Baggies was enough to get them over the line.
The Ipswich players were applauded off at the end of a contest in which they produced a much-improved second-half display, with the Blues players and Lambert acknowledging the efforts of the supporters before leaving the pitch.
Much heart can be taken from the performance after the break, but Lambert’s men remain bottom of the table with the gap to safety potentially widening further depending on results this weekend.
As the minutes ticked down towards kick-off at Portman Road so the atmosphere grew, with flags waving and intense music blaring, before Lambert’s unchanged side looked to take the game to their high-flying hosts.
There was an early scare, though, when Flynn Downes was caught in possession as he received a Jonas Knudsen throw-in, but the Blues survived the following break before Jay Rodriguez nodded over as play broke down following a corner.
The first Ipswich chance came as Freddie Sears nodded a Jordan Spence cross into the path of Knudsen, who fired over, but the hosts were beginning to be penned back by their visitors who were picking passes and making space to attack.
One such move saw James Morrison slips in winger Harvey Barnes, with the Leicester loanee only able to shoot wide across the face of goal, while the set-piece delivery of Matt Phillips continued to cause problems.
Ahmed Hegazi’s miscue in the penalty area fired a warning shot as he headed wide when he really should have scored, but the Baggies did soon find the net as they found the goal their pressure had deserved.
Kieran Gibbs’ raking ball to Hal Robson-Kanu was sent back across the box by the Welshman, with Gibbs finding space to touch the ball into the path of Rodriguez who slammed the ball home from close range after evading Pennington.
It might soon have been two, had Flynn Downes not burst back to slide in and dispossess Barnes in the box, but the Blues were able to steady themselves and deliver a flurry of teasing balls into the West Brom box without every being able to test the visiting backline.
Robson-Kanu was the next to make space for himself and shoot, as his effort flew over the top, and as the half entered stoppage time Chalobah and Pennington had to throw their bodies in front of Rodriguez and Robson-Kanu shots to ensure the deficit was only one at the break.
The Blues came out well at the start of the second period and forced an early corner, from which Roberts prodded towards goal, with Knudsen forcing another from which Chalobah swivelled and shot through traffic for Sam Johnstone to save.
There was a new tempo to the Blues as they lifted the crowd by sending attacking waves forward, with Pennington the next to try his luck as the central defender sent a shot wide from outside the box.
Barnes served a reminder of the quality West Brom possessed as he clipped the outside of the post following a swift counter attack, with the Blues spread out and leaving gaps for the visitors to exploit.
Teddy Bishop’s return to league action for the first time since Boxing Day 2017 received an almighty cheer, but his introduction came at a time when the hosts found themselves on the back foot once again, with Bartosz Bialkowski required to save from Robson-Kanu and Spence doing superbly to slide in and take the ball from Rodriguez when clean through.
When Bishop and Edwards came together as they looked to work an Ipswich corner back into the box, West Brom were able to surge down the field before Barnes slammed the ball home past Bartosz Bialkowski to as good as end the contest.
Tosin Adarabioyo’s lapse in concentration allowed Jackson to place the ball home and fire up the home crowd as time ticked down, but despite sending Bialkowski forward and a late Jack Lankester free-kick which hit the post, Ipswich were unable to find an equaliser.
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Spence, Pennington, Chambers, Knudsen; Skuse, Chalobah, Downes (Bishop 64); Sears, Edwards (Lankester 78), Roberts (Jackson 78)
Subs: Gerken, Donacien, Bishop, Dozzell, Lankester, Ward, Jackson
WBA: Johnstone; Adarabioyo, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Livermore, Morrison (Barry 88), Phillips, Barnes, Robson-Kanu (Gayle 75), Rodriguez
Subs: Myhill, Mears, Townsend, Barry, Hoolahan, Harper, Gayle
Att: 22,995 (1,073 away fans)