since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 1 - 1 (1) Norwich City

Championship Play-Offs Semi-Final, 1st Leg 2014-15

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Portman Road 12:15

Attendance: 29,166

Manager: Alex Neil

Match Number: 3608


 Paul Anderson (45)
 Jonathan Howson (40)


Graham DorransWes Hoolahan (68)
Cameron JeromeGary Hooper (85)


 Paul Anderson (83)
 Graham Dorrans (46)
 Cameron Jerome (57)



John Ruddy

Steven Whittaker

Russell Martin

Sebastien Bassong

Martin Olsson

Alexander Tettey

Graham Dorrans

Nathan Redmond

Jonathan Howson

Bradley Johnson

Cameron Jerome



Declan Rudd

Gary Hooper

Wes Hoolahan

Elliott Bennett

Ryan Bennett

Gary ONeil

Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe

Match Report

Old Farm derby results in end-to-end thriller with honours even in first leg

Championship play-off semi-final, Ipswich v Norwich - Jonny Howson puts Canaries ahead before Ipswich level in first-half stoppage time through substitute Paul Anderson

Ipswich Town feel like a Championship club seeking promotion, while Norwich City feel like a club with a Premier League budget who are looking to return there. Trying to separate them on the pitch is far harder than it is on a balance sheet though.

Such are the disparities in budgets in English football's second tier that an Ipswich team that cost £110,000 in transfer fees can hold its own against a Norwich one containing individuals who cost 50 times that amount.

Ipswich might be the paupers, unable to boast the Premier League parachute payments that swell the coffers of their neighbours, but in terms of quality on the pitch they still look perfectly capable of reaching Wembley at Norwich's expense.

This was comfortably the most important East Anglian derby match in a generation - not since the League Cup semi-final of 1985 has so much ridden on this skirmish - yet it was surprisingly entertaining despite that.

Norwich will go into the second leg with a slight advantage given they are at home, but their superior quality on paper did not lead to automatic promotion and they were unable to take a lead back to Norfolk with them.

It is impossible to escape pressure in a play-off semi-final, but there will be marginally more on Alex Neil's side. The talented young Scot may have done well to get Norwich into the play-offs given they were in the bottom half of the table when he arrived in January, but they were still expected to go up this season.

'There's not a great deal between teams,' said O'Neil. 'It was cagey and you could see that both sets of players were desperate to win.

'We probably had more chances in the first half than Ipswich. However, did we do enough to win the game? Probably not.

'There can't be any complacency now, we're in the exact same position as when we started the game. The good thing for us is we're now going to be playing at home and we expect to be able to put in a performance.'

On the other hand, Ipswich have exceeded expectations getting into this position and that should enable them to relax a little.

It showed here. Ipswich were marginally the better of the two teams, most notably in the first half, although they conceded against the run of play.

They had created the best chance before then. Daryl Murphy, their top goalscorer was the architect, wriggling his way round Russell Martin, to cross for Freddie Sears. His attempt to turn the ball in at the near post was saved by the feet of John Ruddy, who got to them again to block a follow-up header from Luke Varney.

Norwich also had a couple of near misses, Jonathan Howson headed wide, as did Bradley Johnson. Before then, Graham Dorrans had delighted the home crowd when his attempted volley produced an air kick.

Ipswich appeared to be building up a head of steam, Paul Anderson - on for the injured Varney who ruptured his Achilles tendon - and Murphy failing to find the target with tricky headers, but then disaster struck.

Cameron Jerome outmuscled Tommy Smith and crossed for Howson to guide a first-time shot into the bottom corner. It had come against the run of play, but it was a moment of class.

There was a brief threat of crowd trouble as a small group of Ipswich supporters reacted to goading from the away end, but the police contained it quickly.

Ipswich kept the fightback to the pitch. Sears did well, making room for a fizzing, low shot, that Ruddy could not hold. Murphy did not get to the loose ball, but Ruddy could not clear it either and Anderson slotted home.

Smith might have put the home side in front with a header seconds later and Norwich also came close to retaking the lead when Nathan Redmond jinked pass three defenders only to shoot straight at Bartosz Bialkowski.

It set up a fascinating second half, but neither goalkeeper were worked as much after the break. Parity perhaps suited both managers going into the second leg.

Sears headed wide at the far post for Ipswich, Johnson's well-struck effort on the run was deflected wide. Murphy had a chance to win it on the break, but his shot was blocked.

Redmond had a header tipped over the bar at the other end. The second leg is going to be intense.

'It's a lot easier to prepare for the game now,' said Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy. 'If we had to go and attack and attack and attack, we'd be left very vulnerable. It will be nervy for both, one goal could be the difference.

'There's only one game before Wembley, you have to learn how to deal with it. To be fair I have experienced players, I have men in the team. I won't do anything different next week.

'I won't change anything in my plan, because if we start doing something different, players will be unhinged.

'With two teams competing for a big prize, it will never be wide open, expansive football, but it was very competitive without any nastiness.

'It was just players going hammer and tong at each other within the rules of the game.

'I am full of admiration for my side. To go behind when we are actually playing well and to come back shows everything what my team is about.'

Luke Edwards (Daily Telegraph)

Match Gallery


2014-15 Reports