FT:IPSWICH TOWN V DERBY COUNTY (Saturday 28th September)
From Portman Road
IPSWICH TOWN 0
DERBY COUNTY 1
With five men across the back and his two Adams biting alongside the classy Rob Lee in midfield John Gregory had every reason to be pleased with the first-half at Portman Road – even before Horacio Carbonari put the Rams ahead in first-half injury time with his first goal of the season on his comeback.
The goal was deserved for Gregory’s men, although chances were scarce Derby had increasingly dominated possession before Carbonari pounced. The Argentine defender got on the end of a free-kick for the reserves in midweek and this time he used his feet to good effect when he ghosted on to Rob Lee’s spinning free-kick to give the Rams a crucial advantage at the break.
The second half was all about holding on to the advantage and with hard work evident all over the field Gregory’s side did just that. In fact, had surprise debutant Izale McLeod held his run for another split second the Rams could have doubled their lead when Christie’s pace opened up Ipswich as the Tractor Boys pressed forward.
John Gregory brought in the 17 year-old striker to partner Malcolm Christie at the pinnacle of a solid looking 3-5-2 formation. Horacio Carbonari came in to the side at sweeper with Adam Murray taking Giorgi Kinkladze’s place in midfield alongside Rob Lee and Adam Bolder.
Ipswich Town kicked-off with Carbonari trying to give McLeod an early touch of the ball and then Adam Murray tested Andy Marshall with a well-hit shot that the 'keeper turned away for an early corner that fell to safety. McLeod was then caught offside as he attempted to get accustomed to the move from the empty Baseball Ground to a lively Portman Road in seven days.
The game settled quickly with both sides putting out the feelers and Chris Riggott was left feeling dizzy after a clash of heads brought play to a stop in the fifth minute. Stuart Walker dealt with the knock and when the England under-21 international continued Darren Bent outjumped him before Mart Poom gathered as Darren Ambrose looked to capitalise – although the assistant referee had a flag up in any case.
Adam Murray was the first man into Keith Hill’s notebook when Pablo Counago tried to elude his challenge in midfield and the home side won their first corner with ten minutes on the clock. The Rams could not clear fully and Poom had to be alert to gather Matt Holland’s shot before the game came to life.
Firstly, McLeod won a corner for the Rams at one end and then Rob Lee had to be alert as Matt Holland led a breakaway with Counago. Boertien then conceded another corner after a Poom punch before Carbonari boomed a header to safety. The home side were coming forward more now and Jamie Clapham raced into Derby territory to tee-up Jim Magilton for a shot that Mart Poom did well to turn away for a corner - with 17 minutes gone the Rams were being stretched.
Rob Lee was working hard in the midfield to keep the Rams at the table with Murray and Bolder picking up the crumbs and John Gregory’s tactics meant the Rams were keeping competitive in the middle third. Adam Bolder’s run almost released Christie and then McLeod saw his shot blocked with the game approaching the midway point of the first half. Fabian Wilnis made an early exit in his 100th appearance for the Tractor Boys as Jermaine Wright replaced the Dutch full-back. Christie then outpaced John McGreal but his cross was just too far ahead of the advancing McLeod.
Following a brief spell of dominance for the Tractor Boys, the Rams were back in the game and Pablo Counago summed-up the change in play by earning a yellow card for a foul on Carbonari who hammered a trademark free-kick against Darren Bent to win a corner that the home side cleared.
Carbonari then returned the compliment at the other end and with Poom organising a five-man wall he was relieved to see Magilton’s effort drift comfortably over the bar to safety.
Had Mark Venus passed a morning fitness test then John McGreal could have been replaced and he was maybe thinking of time-off when he hacked down Murray to earn the third booking of the game with half an hour gone.
The Rams were beginning to work the ball around the field well and to hold possession for longer periods although they were yet to threaten Marshall’s goal in earnest. McLeod’s knockdown didn’t find Christie and then the 17 year-old sliced a cross as he continued to work hard to support Malcolm Christie. McGreal then left the field for treatment as his nightmare afternoon continued with George Burley’s side temporarily down to ten.
McLeod took advantage by turning goalwards from the edge of the box and winning a corner when his shot was deflected to safety by Hreidarsson and the 17 year-old then couldn’t outjump Marshall. The Rams were making the most of their numerical supremacy and a typical corkscrew run by Christie led to a pair of corners for Gregory’s side. Lee was booked for a foul on Magilton as Ipswich counter-attacked and McGreal returned to the action.
Referee Hill was signalled four minutes of injury time as Ipswich raised the pace in an attempt to go in ahead but instead went behind. Riggott cleared from a corner as the whistle blew and then Poom cleared his lines into Ipswich territory where Izale McLeod won a free-kick on the left to the anger of the Ipswich backline.
Derby got bodies into the box for the cross and Rob Lee spun over a wickedly spinning dead ball that eluded everyone in the middle and found Carbonari at the far post. The Argentine defender had powered home a header for the reserves in midweek and made it two goals in four days by poking home with his right foot to the delight of his teammates.
The protests about the free-kick were vehement and prolonged with goalkeeper Marshall getting a booking for his protestations as the sides left the field.
There were no changes at the break from either side and Paul Boertien made the initial foray forward for the Rams but his shot was a poor one as Matt Holland tried to initiate a fightback for Ipswich before Izale McLeod was cruelly denied his first goal for the Rams.
Chris Riggott robbed Hreidarsson and released Malcolm Christie who shook off Wayne Brown and sped clear on the right. The striker looked up to see McLeod arriving at the far post and the 17 year-old netted and turned to celebrate shirt in hand without seeing the correctly raised flag from the assistant referee. It was a sign of McLeod’s inexperience that he had strayed off-side and it was the right decision.
That near-miss prompted George Burley to make a change with Nigerian winger Finidi George coming on to replace Icelandic defender Hreidarsson in an attempt to switch the flow of play, although George’s first contribution was to be caught offside. Counago’s cross then won a corner for the Tractor Boys as the home support got more involved in the action.
As the hour mark approached Ipswich wasted their best chance of the game when Counago fed George who released Jermaine Wright. The substitute's cross picked out Darren Bent who somehow put his shot wide. Ipswich were certainly raising the pace but the arrival of George meant there was more room on the break and McLeod found Christie who could not get a shot away after a menacing run.
The Tractor Boys were straining to gain the initiative with Magilton unable to keep his header on target before Lee and Christie combined well to relieve the pressure. McLeod received more treatment from Stuart Walker with 65 minutes gone before returning to the action as Ipswich won a corner kick courtesy of good work from Darren Bent. Boertien cleared but Riggott had to concede another corner as Ipswich continued to press in search of an equaliser in front of a near 25,000 crowd.
The Rams were beginning to lose control of the midfield and Poom claimed McGreal’s header from a free-kick before the tiring McLeod was caught offside twice within a minute. Finidi George then showed a clean pair of heels to Boertien and Poom was relieved that his shot was close enough to save.
Malcolm Christie was relishing his unusual role of senior strike partner and with fifteen minutes to go he swerved through the Ipswich defence only to see Marshall make a fine reaction save. That chance prompted another change from Burley who despatched his third sub of the day with Alun Armstrong replacing Pablo Counago. The substitute couldn’t get a decisive touch on a Magilton cross as the Rams held firm.
Izale McLeod then won a free-kick in the Ipswich half but the Rams bench were infuriated that more action wasn’t taken for the challenge. It looked likely to be a battle from here on in and Carbonari had to clear as Higginbotham went down in a lot of pain with a knee injury. There were looks of concern from the Rams but the home crowd were less generous in their reaction to the stoppage and booed the reigning player of the year when he returned after treatment.
Higginbotham was holding his arm uncomfortably but won a header from Bent before McLeod conceded a free-kick and then Holland’s spooned through ball was headed wide poorly by Bent. The tension was evident in the determination of the back-line to apportion blame for the poor marking despite the awry finish. George then released Clapham who thankfully squared his cross to Boertien with two minutes remaining and Town players in support.
The Rams were still soaking up the pressure as Ipswich came forward while McLeod and Christie continued to attempt to keep the ball in the other half. The home crowd responded to the announcement of five minutes added time and Poom was forced to punch clear as the pressure mounted.
McLeod then earnt a booking for hauling down McGreal on the chase for a long clearance; the youngster had given his all to the cause on his debut for the Rams even if his inexperience had shown at times. The home side appealed for a hand ball by Barton when Clapham accelerated down the left before a Murray run ended with Christie heading into the arms of Marshall.
Bent then tested Poom as the game entered the final minute and the time approached 4:55. Carbonari held off Bent and the Rams were in no hurry to take the kick with Ian Evatt replacing the superb Malcolm Christie in the front-line. Evatt immediately won a header towards McLeod as more precious time elapsed.
Matt Holland only just made it for the game due to injury and he again hauled his side forward but to the joy of those fans who had meandered their way along the East Anglian ‘A’ roads all morning, Higginbotham’s long clearance was the last action of the match and the Rams had back-to-back 1-0 wins to celebrate.
Two games in four days at Pride Park Stadium now face Derby County with Oldham kicking-off affairs on Wednesday evening as John Gregory looks to put the home defeats by Burnley and Preston behind his team.
Walsall follow on Saturday in the Nationwide One before a trip to Valley Parade and then the home derby with Nottingham Forest. Rams fans will be hoping by the time Paul Hart’s side arrive at Pride Park stadium the Rams are looking back to today’s win as the start of a consistent run of performances.
Referee: Keith Hill
Ipswich Town: Marshall - Wilnis (Wright 21); McGreal; Hreidarsson (George 51); Holland; Clapham; Magilton; Brown; Ambrose; Counago (Armstrong 75
Subs: Pullen; M.Bent; Armstrong; George; Wright
Derby County: Poom – Carbonari; Barton (Captain); Boertien; Riggott; Higginbotham; Bolder; Murray; Lee; McLeod (Evatt 89); Christie.
Subs: Grant; Evatt; Kinkladze; O’Neil; McLeod.
Booked: Murray, Counago, McGreal, McLeod