Match report: Ipswich Town 1 Reading 2 – Blues look destined for League One now after more late heartbreak
PUBLISHED: 17:28 02 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:41 02 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town’s relegation to League One was virtually confirmed with a 2-1 home defeat to lowly Reading this afternoon.
For the second weekend running, the Blues conceded a gut-wrenching 90th minute goal as substitute Mo Barrow secured the Royals’ second away win of the campaign.
Norwich City loanee Nelson Oliveira had fired the visitors in front (19), with Gwion Edwards levelling things up with seven minutes to go.
Paul Lambert’s men did not lack effort and endeavour. They had big chances too, a mixture of fine goalkeeping by Emiliano Martinez and profligacy in front of goal proving costly.
Defeat leaves Town now 12 points – and a hefty goal difference gap – adrift of safety. Indeed, they are also 12 points adrift of 22nd place Rotherham following the Millers’ home win against Blackburn.
There are just 11 games left, with tough games at West Brom and Bristol City coming up next.
Town started the game pressing all over the pitch and showing positive intent whenever they got the ball. That didn’t translate into goalscoring chances though.
Oliveira – whose every touch was booed – was booked in the 15th minute for a dive in the box, the Portuguese striker going down easily as he looked to nip the ball away from keeper Bartosz Bialkowski on the byline.
Moments after a tight offside call denied Collin Quaner racing clear, the Royals took the lead. Garath McCleary got in behind Luke Chambers following a long ball and pulled the ball back for Oliveira who took a touch and coolly finished.
The masked Norwich loanee, playing up to his pantomime villain role, struck a pose for the North Stand.
Reading looked the more dangerous side after that breakthrough. John Swift curled narrowly wide, Yakou Meite had an overhead attempt saved, while McCleary fired across the face of goal.
Town were dealt a further blow in the 40th minute when James Collins, making his comeback after a five-game absence with a hamstring injury, had to be replaced. Paul Lambert opted for a like-for-like change as Toto Nsiala came on.
Town had two good chances before the break as keeper Emiliano Martinez made saves from Alan Judge and Jon Nolan, the latter spurning a glorious close-range chance after being teed up by makeshift striker Teddy Bishop.
The half ended with Bialkowski doing well to prevent Swift’s inswinging corner from creeping in at the near post.
Lambert used his remaining two subs at the break, replacing loan duo James Bree and Trevoh Chalobah with Cole Skuse and Gwion Edwards and switching to a 4-3-3 system.
Judge had a stinging effort saved in the 55th minute before Oliveira’s afternoon ended when he pulled with a hamstring injury.
Skuse put a dipping volley just over, Bishop had penalty appeals waved away then Martinez did superbly to prevent Andy Yiadom’s scoring an own goal when clawing the ball out the top corner.
Town’s endeavour was rewarded in the 84th minute when Edwards slammed the ball home at the far post after Skuse and Quaner had helped the ball on.
At that stage you wondered whether Town might win it as Judge fired a free-kick well over from a good position.
Then, for the second weekend running, the Blues conceded a gut-wrenching last minute goal as Nsiala failed to deal with a bouncing ball over the top and Mo Barrow finished across Bialkowski.
Town still had big chances to salvage something during the six minutes of stoppage-time.
Martinez did superbly to tip Edwards’ well-hit shot over the bar, then from the resultant corner Luke Chambers headed a golden chance wide following Nsiala’s flick-on.
And there was still time for Quaner to plant an equally good headed chance the wrong side of the post at the death.
IPSWICH TOWN (5-3-2): Bialkowski; Bree (Edwards 46), Chambers, Collins (Nsiala 40), Pennington, Kenlock; Chalobah (Skuse 46) Nolan; Judge; Quaner, Bishop.
Unused subs: Gerken, Downes, Dozzell, Jackson.
READING (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Blackett; Ejaria (Loader 89), Baker; Meite, Swift, McCleary (Harriott 80); Oliveira (Barrow 57).
Unused subs: Walker, Gunter, McShane, O’Shea.