United are 2-1 winners in dramatic fashion at Elland Road...
UNITED 2 (Mowatt 71, Sharp 77), IPSWICH 1 (Sears 74).
United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Cooper, Byram, Cook, Murphy, Mowatt, C Taylor (Antenucci 68), Sharp (Morison 86). Subs. S Taylor, Berardi, Sloth, Doukara, Cani.
Ipswich: Bialkowski, Parr, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Skuse, Anderson (Bru 61), Varney (Murphy 65), Tabb, Wood (Sears 72). Subs. Gerken, Clarke, Chaplow, Connolly.
Referee: M Brown
Booked: Bamba (United), Bru, Skuse (Ipswich)
Att: 19,730 (674 Ipswich)
The midweek visit of Ipswich Town saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make one change from the 3-2 defeat to Watford as Giuseppe Bellusci came in for the injured Rodolph Austin. It meant somewhat of a re-shuffle in the line-up as Liam Cooper shifted along to left-back, while Charlie Taylor pushed forward to occupy a place on the wing.
It was a fast-paced start to proceedings at Elland Road and the visitors had the ball in the back of the net inside the opening three minutes, only for the linesman’s flag to rule out a precise header from former United man Luke Varney.
Billy Sharp was soon in the thick of it inside the opposite penalty box, though, as his half-volley was blocked on the line by defender Tommy Smith after some industrious work down the right from Lewis Cook. Sol Bamba then looped a header onto the roof of the net following Alex Mowatt’s delivery in a relatively open first 20 minutes.
A subdued period followed as both sides exchanged possession and probed for openings without any meaningful chances until the 35th minute. Latching onto a loose ball, Sam Byram broke free down the right and whipped in a cross for Sharp, but the striker could only send his flying header over Bartosz Bialkowski’s bar amid claims of a shove inside the area.
Bamba glanced a header wide and the United defence stood firm to block Chris Wood inside the area but, otherwise, it was a largely forgettable opening 45 minutes as referee Mark Brown blew his whistle on a goalless first half.
Marco Silvestri was soon called into action within minutes of the two unchanged teams remerging, though, getting down quickly to his right to claw behind Tyrone Mings’ header which was destined for the bottom corner. Bamba and Scott Wootton then pulled off important blocks inside the area as Ipswich made a lively start to the second period.
Sharp found himself crowded out at the opposite end, his deflected effort just squirming into Bialkowski’s grateful arms, before another passage of play lacking in notable goalmouth action followed.
Ipswich sent on Kevin Bru and Daryl Murphy, while Redfearn replaced Taylor with Mirco Antenucci as both sides searched for a way to break the deadlock.
And the opening goal finally came on 71 minutes courtesy of Mowatt’s seventh of the season. Byram caught Tyrone Mings in possession and won a free-kick off the Ipswich full-back in an almost identical position to Mowatt’s match-winner against Millwall 18 days earlier.
The midfielder stepped up, again left-footed, but was not aided by a deflection this time as his curling strike left Bialkowski scrambling helplessly across his goalline, with the ball planting itself in the bottom corner to the delight of the home crowd.
But the visitors managed to hit back and pull themselves level just three minutes later as substitute Freddie Sears’ low strike crept underneath Silvestri down to his right.
It was a frantic period of play and United ‘s lead was restored within three minutes as Sharp fired home from inside the area. A great run and cross from the effervescent Cook picked out the unmarked striker and his pin-point volley on the turn flew into Bialkowski’s bottom right-hand corner.
The game had well and truly burst into life and Ipswich again went in search of an equaliser, with Silvestri reacting well to push away Mings’ low strike. Cook drilled into Bialkowski’s arms but there was soon a heart-in-mouth for the home crowd as Bamba was adjudged to have handled inside the area.
Substitute Daryl Murphy stepped up, but Silvestri made amends for Ipswich’s earlier goal with a superb save down to his right, tipping the spot-kick onto the post in front of the South Stand. A nervy finale ensued as Mings headed over Silvestri’s bar, but United held on to return to winning ways.