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Report: Blues 2 Ipswich Town 2

Try as they might – 13 goal attempts in the second-half, compared to Ipswich’s three – Blues couldn’t find the third goal that would have capped an exciting afternoon at the St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

BCFC

Lukas Jutkiewicz’s second-half brace completed a stirring comeback from Blues and ensured that the drawing start to the 2018/19 home campaign continued.

Blues made a bright opening but still found themselves two behind at the interval, goals from Jon Nolan and Matthew Pennington putting Ipswich in control of proceedings, from a scoreline perspective at least.

The half-time result was certainly not a fair reflection of the action and in the second-half Blues bounced back superbly. Jutkiewicz notched his second goal of the season soon after the restart with a cool finish and then doubled his personal tally for the afternoon on 68 minutes to set up a grandstand conclusion to the game.

Try as they might – 13 attempts in the second-half, compared to Ipswich’s three – Blues couldn’t find the third goal that would have capped an exciting afternoon at the St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

Blues started the game like an express train, the visitors surviving a mad scramble inside the area within the opening four minutes. Jota’s outswinging corner was headed back towards goal by Jutkiewicz, Adams and Michael Morrison both had shots blocked and when the ball came out to Gary Gardner, his swerving shot clipped the outside of the post.

Monk’s side continued to look more threatening, but the Ipswich defence held firm and stunned St. Andrew’s by taking the lead against the run of play. Kayden Jackson went scuttling away down the right flank from Pennington’s lofted through ball and did well to pick out Jon Nolan with his cut-back. The midfielder’s first-time shot curled up and over Lee Camp before nestling in the far corner, the 26-year-old’s first goal since his summer switch from Shrewsbury Town.

Blues looked to respond and had a brief sight of goal when Harlee Dean nodded the ball across the six-yard box and Jutkiewicz’s glancing header bounced wide of Dean Gerken’s left-hand post. Jacques Maghoma had the Ipswich defence backtracking again moments later but his cross into the box was collected by Gerken at the second attempt.

Michael Morrison came within a whisker of drawing his side level when the captain met Jota’s free-kick, his floated header beating Gerken all ends up. The ball looked destined for the back of the net until Jonas Knudsen came from nowhere to stick out a leg and divert it over.

The frustration levels amongst fans and home players alike went up a notch when Ipswich doubled their lead four minutes before the break. Grant Ward’s cross somehow found its way through a mass of players inside the Blues area, before crashing off the legs of Pennington and into the bottom left-hand corner of Camp’s net.

Jutkiewicz was about to pull trigger from 20 yards at the other end but Edwards came back with a vital intervention, Paul Hurst’s side determined to take their two-goal advantage into the interval.

Blues made their first change before the game restarted for the second-half. Gardner, who had suffered a head injury that required bandaging during the opening period, was replaced by Maikel Kieftenbeld.

Moments after Nolan had sent a free-kick fizzing narrowly wide of Camp’s left-hand upright, Blues went up the other end and reduced the deficit. It was a superb breakaway goal that owed a lot to the vision and creativity of Jota. The Spaniard’s defence-splitting pass put Jutkiewicz through on goal and the big striker showed great composure to open up his body and curl the ball beyond the despairing dive of Gerken with the second period less than three minutes old. It was just the boost that Blues and the fans needed. The St. Andrew’s faithful, who had been understandably subdued during the first-half, roared their approval and got back to their vociferous best.

The game became nip and tuck, with Ipswich looking decidedly nervy but still posing a threat on the break, Ward perhaps should have done better when the ball came to him inside the area, but his weak effort was comfortably collected by Camp.

Only the reflexes of Gerken denied Jutkiewicz a second goal, the forward’s goalbound shot palmed away by the Ipswich keeper.

Connor Mahoney was introduced to the fray, youngster Charlie Lakin making way, and almost had an immediate impact. The winger’s chipped cross found the head of Jutkiewicz, the ball looping up and onto the top of the crossbar – the 11th time that Blues have hit the woodwork this season, more than any other Championship team.

Blues’ story of misfortune looked to have struck again when another mad skirmish inside the area saw two efforts blocked almost on the line. But it was a case of third time lucky as Jutkiewicz, with his back to goal, turned and hooked the ball into the top corner, to the delight of the fans behind that Tilton Road goal. With a quarter of the game still to go, it was all up for grabs now!

Monk’s men maintained the pressure and laid siege on the Ipswich goal as they looked to complete a dramatic turnaround. A mazy dribble from Mahoney took the loanee into the area but he opted to shoot when a cross would have been the better option and the ball was deflected wide.

Dean and Jota had shots from outside the area that didn’t trouble Gerken and the third goal was beginning to look just out of Blues’ reach. Mahoney, who was a bright spark for the hosts during his cameo performance, curled a shot wide from inside the area with time running out.

There was one dangerous attack from Ipswich late on when Blues’ offside trap didn’t work from a quickly taken visitors free-kick. Nolan found himself in acres of space on the left flank. His cross into the box caused problems until Kristian Pedersen slid in to hack the ball clear.

Mahoney continued to see plenty of the ball and from another onslaught down the right flank had the ball bouncing around inside the area, but Blues were unable to force it home.

A second yellow card for Pennington left Ipswich playing the last two minutes of normal time and four additional minutes with 10 men. In the last of those minutes, Blues created a golden chance to win it. Mahoney’s cross from the left fell to the feet of Adam’s inside the area, the striker attempted to bring it down which gave the visitors vital seconds to close him down and get in a block.

Blues’ unbeaten start to the home season was maintained with this fifth successive draw, and the spirit shown to come back from two goals down all bodes well. A well-earned point in the end.

Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Dean, Morrison, Pedersen; Jota, G Gardner (Kieftenbeld h/t), Lakin (Mahoney 64), Maghoma; Jutkiewicz, Adams.

Substitutes not used: Roberts, Harding, Solomon-Otabor, Bogle, Trueman.

Goals: Jutkiewicz (48, 68)
Bookings: None

Ipswich (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Pennington, Nsiala, Chambers, Knudsen; Skuse, Chalobah; Edwards (Donacien 89), Nolan, Ward (Sears 81); Jackson.

Substitutes not used: Downes, Dozzell, Edun, Graham, Bialkowski.

Goals: Nolan (26), Pennington (41)
Booking: Skuse (90+3)
Sending-off: Pennington (88)

Attendance: 21,612 (1,096 away)

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