Match report: Ipswich Town 2 Reading 2 – Two more goals for Lawrence as rejuvenated Town impress
PUBLISHED: 18:11 04 February 2017 | UPDATED: 18:15 04 February 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town produced their best home display in months and left the field to rapturous applause, despite twice being pegged back to draw 2-2 with high-flying Reading this afternoon.
Leicester City loanee Tom Lawrence continued his scintillating form with two more goals – an opener that cannoned in off the underside of the bar following a driving Emyr Huws run (43), with his second a cool finish following a defence-splitting David McGoldrick pass (61)
Reading salvaged a point thanks to Jordon Mutch’s side-footed finish (52) and Jordan Obita’s long-range strike (79), but this was a very heartening display from Mick McCarthy’s men following Tuesday night’s comfortable 3-0 home defeat to Derby.
Lawrence – who has now scored eight goals in his last eight games – was once again the star of the show, but fellow Welsh international Huws, a deadline day loan addition from Cardiff, enjoyed an eye-catching debut.
Leeds loanee Toumani Diagouraga and ex-Newcastle defender Stephen Taylor also played well as a team featuring five changes look rejuvenated.
The Blues may have seen their gap to the relegation zone cut to eight points, but this is a performance that gives hope ahead of tough games against Aston Villa (a), Brighton (a), Leeds (h) and Norwich (a).
Town burst out of the traps, took the game by the scruff of the neck and never let up in a scintillating first half performance that few saw coming.
David McGoldrick produced some trickery in the final third, Cole Skuse a thumping challenge in the middle of the park and Josh Emmanuel nut-megged his marker by the corner flag. That was all inside the opening five minutes and the home crowd responded.
Lawrence’s whipped deep free-kick caused chaos in the box, then he had a shot charged down in the box. The Leicester loanee then showed superb strength and skill with his back to goal on the halfway line to start a free-flowing counter-attack which ended with Jonas Knudsen heading Emmanuel’s cross just wide on the run.
McCarthy was forced to substitute the energetic Skuse in the 21st minute, the midfielder having picked up a knock when making a fine recovery tackle, but replacement Grant Ward replaced him with aplomb and no mentum was lost.
There was a fine tackle from Christophe Berra on John Swift at the near post, but Reading – the pass-masters of the division – were well behind in the possession statistics.
A sharp one-two between Emmanuel and Toumani Diagouraga ended with the ball drifting out for a goalkick, but it was a fine move which further lifted the crowd.
Yann Kermorgant produced a tame effort after Jonas Knudsen’s loose header, but Town remained on the front foot. Livewire debutant Emyr Huws, signed on loan from Cardiff on deadline day, began to pull the strings. He hit a long-range effort straight at Ali Al-Habsi, after yet more good work by Lawrence and Emmanuel, then provided a glorious forward pass that saw Knudsen beat the on-rushing Al-Habsi to the ball only for the keeper to recover.
The Blues’ breakthrough in the 43rd minute was therefore fully deserved. Huws seized on a loose ball on the edge of his own box, drove forwards and found Lawrence with a well-weight pass. The forward still had plenty to do, but managed to work half a yard of room for himself in the area and unleash a ferocious shot that cannoned down off the underside of the bar and inside the line.
Town’s tails were up and they almost scored a quickfire second in stoppage-time. Emmanuel’s perseverance, strength and skill forced a corner, Stephen Taylor met Lawrence’s delivery with a firm back post header but the ball flew just wide of the opposite post.
Lawrence had finished the half limping, having seemingly aggravated the ankle injury he sustained in midweek, but he returned for the start of the second period and Ipswich carried on where they’d left off. McGoldrick fired wide of the near post on the angle twice, then Lawrence, using the defender as a shield, bent a low right-footed shot inches past the post
Reading’s equaliser came against the run of play. Luke Chambers committed to and missed a challenge on the halfway line and suddenly space at the back opened up. Substitute Lewis Grabban produced a sideways pass and fellow debutant Mutch was left with a simple side-footed finish. Moments later, Bartosz Bialkowski had to make a decent stop from Danny Williams well-hit shot.
Encouraged by their team’s performance, the Town fans roared their encouragement. The home players responded by getting back on the attack.
There was chaos in the Reading box in the 57th minute. Lawrence’s shot was blocked by Tyler Blackett, Mutch appeared to foul Diagouraga, penalty appeals were waved away, then Lawrence’s wicked inswinging corner was headed off the line by Kermorgant. Not long afterwards, McGoldrick’s near post effort was kept out by Al-Habsi.
Town retook the lead in the 61st minute following a defence-splitting through ball from McGoldrick which was delivered from just inside his own half. Lawrence raced clear and slotted the ball under the on-rushing Al-Habsi.
It required a brilliant headed intervention from Taylor to prevent Reading pulling level 10 minutes later. The ex-Newcastle defender was congratulated as if he’d scored himself when flicking a dangerous Garath McClearly cross beyond the post inside the six-yard box.
Ipswich’s players, many of whom were short of match fitness, understandably tired and Reading began to see more of the ball. Their second leveller arrived in the 78th minute after McCleary’s corner was headed well clear by Berra, only for Obita’s well-struck shot from 30 yards out to skip twice off the turf and nestle in the bottom corner.
Lawrence’s one-man mission to win the game continued, but he sent a free-kick just over the bar. The final whistle was met by rapturous applause. It may not have been a win, but this was a very heartening performance.
IPSWICH TOWN (3-5-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Taylor, Berra; Emmanuel, Skuse (Ward 21), Diagouraga (Spence 82), Huws (Bishop 82); McGoldrick, Lawrence.
Unused subs: Gerken, Sears, Pitman, Moore.
Booked: Knudsen (90+)
READING (3-5-2): Al-Habsi; Gunter (cpt), Moore, Blackett; Williams, Kelly (Evans 82), Swift (Grabban 46), Mutch, Obita; Kermorgant, McCleary.
Unused subs: Jaakkola, Oxford, Beerens, Meite, Popa.
Booked: Grabban (85), Evans (89)