Ipswich sink Sunderland to take advantage of Leicester slip

13 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Ipswich moved back to within seven points of Championship leaders Leicester after coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 at Portman Road.

Kieran McKenna’s men momentarily slipped out of the automatic promotion places after Southampton’s 4-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the day and they fell behind to Jack Clarke’s stunner after 26 minutes.

Kayden Jackson’s clinical leveller – his third goal of the season – brought Town back on level terms within seven minutes.

And the hosts made sure of their first win in six games, following a largely frustrating festive period, when Conor Chaplin diverted a pinpoint cross from Leif Davis past Anthony Patterson.

The reinvigoration of their top-two hopes sees Ipswich keep Saints a further three points behind, while Sunderland stay seventh, behind sixth-placed Coventry on goal difference alone.

How Ipswich returned to winning ways

The visitors were presented with a great opportunity to take the lead early on when Harry Clarke lost possession to Aji Alese out wide. The Sunderland man made his way towards the six-yard area, where his cross found Jobe Bellingham but Town ‘keeper Vaclav Hladky blocked the shot.

A spell of concerted pressure in the Wearsiders’ penalty area resulted in a shot from Jack Taylor but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Dan Ballard.

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Jack Clarke opens the scoring at Portman Road with a superb strike from outside the box

Hladky then used his legs to keep out a shot from Clarke but the Sunderland man got his name on the scoresheet in the 26th minute with a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area.

It came following a corner which was initially cleared, but Abdoullah Ba collected the ball and danced across the edge of the penalty area before finding Clarke, who rifled the ball into the net.

Ipswich responded and Clarke’s low cross from the right was pushed away by Patterson but the Tractor Boys were level in the 33rd minute through Jackson.

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Kayden Jackson gets the equaliser for Ipswich with a wonderful finish

Lewis Travis, on loan from Blackburn, played a pass into the Sunderland penalty area to Chaplin, who cleverly nudged the ball into Jackson’s path, via a deflection off Pierre Ekwah, and the striker coolly finished.

Patterson prevented the Tractor Boys from taking the lead when he got down low to keep out a shot from Clarke as Ipswich exerted pressure on Sunderland, who should have gone in front when Adil Aouchiche was presented with a gilt-edged chance.

A combination of Hladky and Luke Woolfenden lost possession and Clarke squared the ball to the Sunderland substitute, who sliced wide of an unguarded net.

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Ipswich take the lead as Conor Chaplin fires in a powerful header

The majority of the 29,291 crowd then erupted when Chaplin put Town ahead. Aouchiche fouled Leif Davis, who delivered a free-kick into the penalty area where Chaplin connected with his head.

Woolfenden then struck the post from close range following another Davis free-kick and there were huge penalty appeals when Sunderland defender Luke O’Nien dived in on Omari Hutchinson, which sent him cartwheeling into the air, while Chaplin fired the loose ball inches wide as the game drew to a close.

The managers

Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna…

“We showed terrific character. It’s been a spell where we’ve had a lot of disruption, again we were playing with some big players missing.

“We’re trying to integrate and develop the team, and when you’re doing that it’s not always smooth.

“We still played some good football but it wasn’t as smooth through the middle of the pitch as we sometimes are.

“But we found a way to win. The commitment was fantastic, we created some good chances and did enough to win the game.

“You know with these boys they’ve shown great resilience for a long period of time and I know they’ll keep going until the last whistle.”

Sunderland’s Michael Beale…

“It was a poor set play to give away and probably the smallest player on the pitch scored a header in the middle of the goal. Just before that, we had a huge chance to go 2-1 up.

“It was a good game, very even at times. Both teams had chances and as the team sixth in the league coming to the team second, my team played well for large parts.

“But it’s a lack of discipline from us. The boy’s facing the stand and there’s no need to give a foul away but then after that, we have to defend the box better.

“We’re a little bit naive at times and I’m disappointed.”

What’s next?

Ipswich head to leaders Leicester in a top-of-the-table meeting at the King Power Stadium on Monday January 22, live on Sky Sports.

Sunderland return to the Stadium of Light to host Hull on Friday January 19, live on Sky Sports.

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