It was something of an unexpected victory for Ipswich Town, particularly after opening 15 minutes of the game, yet Mick McCarthy’s side grounded out a much-needed win over Huddersfield Town to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Although Huddersfield are sitting in 16th and Ipswich in 10th, the gap between the two sides was practically non-existent. With Ipswich on the back of three defeats on the bounce, they looked nervous throughout, but they got the victory that they probably didn’t deserve.
The home side’s early dominance was met by an Ipswich goal against the run of play, when Ben Pringle fired it in and Huddersfield’s defence was unable to clear.
After the goal, Ipswich looked to sit deep, soak up the pressure and play on the counter-attack. They did so successfully, but the direct style that they were attempting to play was lacking quality.
The second half showed this as they restricted David Wagner’s Terriers to a handful of chances whilst having a few opportunities on the counter.
It was the perfect away performance from Ipswich even if it wasn’t the prettiest.
FootballLeagueWorld writer Elliott Wheat-Bowen identifies THREE things that we learned from yesterday’s contest…
1) Huddersfield was once again punished for wastefulness
Although Ipswich did gain all three points in a tight encounter, even manager McCarthy admitted that they seriously rode their luck and, if Huddersfield had put away one of the many chances that they had prior to the Pringle’s goal, then they would’ve gone on to win comfortably.
From minute one, Huddersfield looked more confident and more comfortable on the ball, with streams of players bombing forward that Ipswich couldn’t cope with. Jason Davidson’s pinpoint cross found Kyle Dempsey in space in the 18-yard box, but he planted his header just wide of the post.
Nahki Wells had the biggest chance as Tommy Smith’s clearance dropped behind the defensive line and Wells was quickest to react. However, under pressure and off balance, his one-on-one opportunity was wasted as he attempted to push the ball underneath Bartosz Białkowski in the Ipswich goal.
They were the two most noteworthy chances that Huddersfield had but on another day, the tie would’ve already been over.
Huddersfield dwarfed Ipswich in every stat other than the score line as they dominated the possession, the running, and even the chances, but wasteful finishing and a lack of composure in front of goal was what cost them the three points.
2) Daryl Murphy was the difference
Despite Huddersfield being dominant, Daryl Murphy still showed his quality and arguably he was the difference between the two sides, particularly in the second half.
Murphy was instrumental in the goal as he outfought Joel Lynch who was to looking to shepherd it out of play but left enough room for Murphy to hook the ball around him and take Lynch out of the game. He then had the calmness and composure to spot Pringle in space on the opposite side of the box, and Pringle put it away.
In the second half, Murphy was isolated as Ipswich sat deep but every ball into the channel or in the air he fought for and he had the running on both Smith and Mark Hudson, both of whom couldn’t handle Murphy’s upper body strength.
The only thing that was lacking from Murphy’s game yesterday was a goal, and he was a whisker away from getting one as the game stretched and Huddersfield sought for an equaliser.
It was a performance similar to that of last season and with Murphy seemingly getting back to his best form, it could be crucial for Ipswich’s play-off hopes.
3) Turning point in the season for Ipswich?
Although the performance wasn’t particularly thrilling and the result was similarly undeserving, it was still vital for McCarthy’s side that they snapped this losing streak by any means possible.
With a victory against an in-form Huddersfield side and a month of winnable games, Ipswich could get back into the play-off picture with this victory giving them confidence and a platform to build on.
Although Ipswich weren’t at their best offensively, defensively they were commendable as they kept their shape, fought for every ball, threw themselves in front of every shot, and Białkowski made a number of superb saves that won Ipswich the game.
Ipswich won’t be able to be as reliant on the opposition’s wastefulness if they are to break back into the play-offs, but with the confidence that they will have gained from this result, it could be the turning point in their season as they look to bridge the four point gap that they currently face.
Huddersfield and Ipswich fans… what did you make of the game? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!