Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Ipswich Town: Blues shotless and pointless
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Ipswich Town never really got started before going down to Sheffield Wednesday, in a game where they were lucky to lose by a single goal.
Marvin Johnson’s effort, just six minutes into the game, was ultimately enough for the Owls to win a contest in which they had several further chances to score, but fluffed their lines in the vital moments.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing missed a golden chance before the break, while Christian Walton was required to make a string of good saves to keep the deficit at only one.
The Blues couldn’t take advantage, though, having 65 per cent of the ball but failing to register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Kieran McKenna’s men huffed and puffed but were never truly able to click, losing possession at vital moments and offering little pressure to a Wednesday goal which never looked like being scored in.
Wednesday’s win sees them move above Town, while still holding two games in hand over the Blues, while results elsewhere mean the Suffolk side slip back to eight points off the final play-off place.
McKenna made five changes to the side which won at Wimbledon in midweek, including a complete reconstruction of his front three as Macauley Bonne, Bersant Celina and Conor Chaplin came into the side in place of James Norwood, Kayden Jackson and Sone Aluko.
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Dominic Thompson came in for his Ipswich debut, in place of the suspended Kane Vincent-Young, while Idris El Mizouni returned in midfield for Tom Carroll.
Town started the brighter, winning the majority of the second balls and working possession into some decent areas, but soon found themselves behind. The Blues had possession on their left flank but, after George Edmundson lost possession to a good Massimo Luongo tackle, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was able to cross the ball from deep to find Johnson, who had escaped his marker to finish back across goal.
The Blues struggled to reassert themselves, with Wednesday enjoying the better of the play, before a long ball over the top freed Florian Kamberi, who twisted inside Luke Woolfenden before Edmundson was able to get back and clear. Harlee Dean headed the resulting corner over the top of the bar.
Mendez-Laing and Josh Windass both had shots wide, before Johnson headed over, with the Blues struggling to link play and bring their midfield and attacking threats into a contest in which they were second best.
Celina produced a clever touch to skip away from Dean in the middle of the field, before advancing the ball to the edge of the Wednesday box. He opted to shoot, rather than look for Chaplin, and fired over the top.
The hosts really should have been two up before half-time, as a ball from left to right dragged the Ipswich defence out of position, allowing Kamberi to find Mendez-Laing in acres of space. The former Cardiff and Middlesbrough man somehow managed to shoot wide with Christian Walton’s goal at his mercy.
Wednesday had two more big chance before the break, as Kamberi got the better of Woolfenden at a bouncing ball and worked his way towards goal, getting his shot away and forcing a smart stop from Walton. The Town keeper was called into action again from the following corner, getting down quickly to clutch Sam Hutchinson’s header.
McKenna’s men were lucky to reach the safety of their dressing room just a single goal behind, returning from it for the start of the second period knowing much improvement was needed if they were to get anything out of a hugely important contest.
Celina and Tyreeq Bakinson both had early openings, but couldn’t produce a testing moment for the Wednesday defence from either, before the latter put his side in real danger with an unnecessary casual piece of defending which, after he had survived call for a foul, resulted in Barry Bannan heading over the top of the bar.
The Wednesday pressure kept coming in soft waves, with Kamberi’s cross through the box landing at the feet of Johnson, who shot wide, before McKenna made his first moves from the bench to introduce Norwood and Aluko.
The changes saw Town switch to a back four, before Walton was quickly called into action again, clawing Bannan’s shot out of his top corner.
McKenna’s final change saw Bonne replaced by Joe Pigott, but Town couldn’t find a new gear and left this game both shotless and pointless.
Ipswich Town (3-4-3): Walton; Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson; Burns, Thompson, El Mizouni (Norwood, 70), Bakinson; Celina, Chaplin (Aluko 70), Bonne (Pigott, 78)
Subs: Hladky, Burgess, Harper, Edwards
Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2): Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Dean, Hutchinson; Mendez-Laing (Palmer, 62), Dele-Bashiru, Luongo, Bannan, Johnson (Hunt, 84), Windass (John-Jules 72), Kamberi
Subs: Wildsmith, Byers, Paterson, Sow