Ten-men Town doubled by Palace

TEN-MEN Ipswich Town suffered their first defeat in 11 Championships games when they lost a mediocre lunchtime kick-off encounter at Crystal Palace.

Elvin King

Crystal Palace 3 Ipswich Town 1

TEN-MEN Ipswich Town suffered their first defeat in 11 Championships games when they lost a mediocre lunchtime kick-off encounter at Crystal Palace.

The Blues were comfortably in charge a two minute disaster period with Jose Fonte equalised and Jon Stead was then sent off.

Hard-up Palace were not at their best, but managed a double against Town thanks to three well-taken goals and the benefit of playing for 50 minutes with an extra man.

Jaime Peters celebrated signing a new contract with a19th minute goal after keeper Julian Speroni had spilled a cross.

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Town were in charge until central defender Fonte levelled in the 39th minute after Damien Delaney's attempted clearance struck Owen Garvan.

A minute later Stead was sent off after a lunge at Freddie Sears that the referee interpreted as a two-footed studs-showing tackle but others would have settled for a yellow instead of red card.

Neil Danns put Palace ahead in the 59th minute after slack Ipswich marking, and Victor Moses cashed-in with Town having men forward to add a third goal deep in stoppage time.

Town made two changes from the side that beat Blackpool 3-1 at home in their previous game a fortnight ago. They certainly missed Walters and Leadbitter who were both suspended after collecting five yellow cards, with Edwards and Healy coming in.

It was Healy's first league start since the home 3-1 defeat to Palace in August. He began the Carling Cup match at Peterborough soon afterwards, but has not been used since with reports of a January loan move on offer for the former Cork midfielder.

Striker John was ineligible because of the terms of his loan move from Palace, with manager Keane deciding to name Priskin, Counago and Wickham on the bench and name five midfielders.

The home side included ex-Blues stars Lee and Ambrose in their line-up.

It was a mildish lunchtime in south London with the sun peeking through at times with snow heaped up along one side of the pitch and frost protecting covers rolled up along the other side.

There was a large contingent of Town fans who had made the journey down the A12 to help blow away some of the cobwebs from a no-doubt over indulgent Christmas Day.

As expected former skipper McAuley took over the captain's armband from the missing Walters.

Playing in white shirts and red shorts, Town had Healy playing closest to Stead with Peters joining Colback in the middle of the park and Garvan hanging left of midfield.

It was a slow opening in slightly slippy conditions with both sides struggling to find any rhythm although both McAuley and Delaney had efforts that went too high.

In the 19th minute Town took the lead thanks to an error b y Speroni. He flapped at a Garvan free-kick under pressure from McAuley, and when the ball went free, Delaney did well to turn and cross from the left touchline.

Speroni let the cross slip through his fingers, and all a grateful Peters had to do was to hammer the ball into the vacant net from eight yards as it dropped in front of him.

Speroni saved a close range header from Stead in the 27th minute and within seconds Lee-Barrett dived to his right to clutch hold off a neat flick by Moses.

In the 37th minute and unnecessary foul by Healy led to Ambrose floating over a free-kick and Lee climbed high to head a foot over the bar.

But two minutes later it all went wrong for the Blues. Town failed to clear a long throw with Delaney's boot forward striking Garvan and looping forward for Fonte to hammer the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

It was a vicious finish, but Palace had benefitted from a lucky break. And they received another one a minute later when Stead went into a challenge on Sears after the ball ran loose in midfield.

A well-placed referee immediately raised a red card for a two-footed challenge, which Town players were furious about. It looked a 50-50 decision with Town on the wrong side and now up against it and Stead set to miss the next three games.

Garvan headed a Fonte effort clear from just in front of the line in the 44th minute, and with just Healy forward the visitors had no outlet to escape from their own half.

Sixteen-year-old Wickham is given the nod ahead of Priskin and Counago to come off the bench and play up front on his own in the second period. He took the place of Edwards.

In the 59th minute, McAuley slid a Moses cross over his own bar from six yards, and when the resultant corner was not cleared Palace took the lead.

Delaney's attempted clearance went up in the air to the edge of the 18-yard box where Derry played in Danns - the number eight getting goal-side of Wright. Danns had an easy job to run on and beat at exposed Lee-Barrett.

The 69th minute saw Town build well through Wickham and Garvan with Rosenior seeing his 20 yard effort saved with difficulty by Speroni at the near post.

Lee-Barrett did well to push a fierce Moses effort aside in the 78th minute with Town's double substitutions in the 69th minute not having the desired effect. In the 84th minute, Lee-Barrett dived to his right to save from Ambrose.

The clock ticked down with a very average Palace running out comfortable victors. In the four minutes of stoppage time, Ambrose thundered a 22 yard free-kick against the top of the bar.

Shortly afterwards, Town were caught chasing the game with players up field and a flowing break led to Moses sweeping in a third goal.


Crystal Palace: Speroni; Clyne, Fonte, Davis, Hill; Sears (sub Ertl 70 mins), Derry, Danns, Ambrose; Moses, Lee (Andrew 89). Substitutes: Carle, Scannell, Hills, R Smith, N'Diaye.

Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, D Wright; Edwards (Wickham 46), Peters, Colback, Garvan (Quinn 69); Healy (Counago 69); Stead. Substitutes: McLoughlin, T Smith, Priskin, Norris.

Referee: Mr P Taylor (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 16,496 (1,611 Ipswich).