Date: 2nd October 2010 at 5:08pm
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It looked like they’d thrown it away again, but this time it was Ipswich Town who sneaked a late goal as Tommy Smith sealed a 2-1 triumph over 10 man Leeds United.

Remarkably, Smith was never intended to feature in Roy Keane’s starting lineup for this match. The manager had initially planned 3 changes to the team that lost to Reading, with Troy Brown and suspended duo Luke Hyam and David Norris being replaced by Tom Eastman, Mark Kennedy and Spurs loanee Jake Livermore on his home debut. However, when Darren O’Dea suddenly limped off with a knee injury during the warmup, Smith – initially named on the bench – was drafted into the backline to take his place. Meanwhile for Leeds, the visitors’ backline had a familiar look to it with a bumper home crowd (by recent standards) welcoming ex-Blues Alex Bruce and Richard Naylor back to Portman Road for the first time since their departures.

Leeds went into this game after their astonishing 10 goal thriller against Preston, 6 goals of which came as they took a 4-2 lead in the first half. By contrast, Ipswich went into the contest still without a goal in the first 45 minutes of any league match. It was perhaps rather unexpected therefore that the team to break the deadlock after 18 minutes was actually Town, and even more encouragingly, the opportunity was crafted by none other than Livermore. Charging forward with possession from the centre circle, the 20-year-old saw Jason Scotland making a run towards the box and threaded a perfect through ball between four Leeds players right into the path of the striker. Scotland might have been to blame for wasting good chances against Reading, but he made no such mistake here. Storming towards goal with Shane Higgs diving in to try and claim, the Trinidad striker neatly touched the ball round the keeper before slotting into the empty net from six yards for his third goal in four games at Portman Road. It was a goal of real quality for Town and finally ended the search for that elusive first half finish to put them 1-0 up.

Town could easily have been two up very soon after. Bruce gave the ball away to Scotland who ran on and struck from the edge of the box, but he dragged his effort well wide of the far post. Leeds then attempted to get themselves back into the game during the rest of the first half, Jonathan Howson firing a long-range effort well off target before Neil Kilkenny struck from 25 yards into the arms of Fulop, while Davide Somma also tried his luck but fired wide. With the first half offering little in the way of chances, the players headed in at the break with Town holding on to their 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, Keane decided to change things around a bit, Eastman being replaced by Tamas Priskin with the Hungarian taking a place ahead of Scotland, Jaime Peters moving to fill the gap at the back. The first incident of note in the second period came a few minutes after the substitution, with Andros Townsend – who had apparently been encouraged to give Bruce the runaround – getting the better of the former Town defender who could only stop his run with an unfair sliding challenge that earned him a place in referee Keith Hill’s book. From the resulting free kick, Scotland found himself to blame for wasting another glorious opportunity. Grant Leadbitter’s delivery from the left came to the feet of the ex-Wigan striker in the centre six yards from goal, but inexplicably he somehow conspired to blast his effort way over the bar. After the missed chances against Reading in the previous game, it was certain to serve as a real warning for Town for again not taking their chances.

Leeds sought to punish Town just before the hour mark, Robert Snodgrass earning the visitors a free kick from Leadbitter’s challenge which Bradley Johnson set himself up to take from around 30 yards out, only to get the height all wrong. At the other end, McAuley might have made more of a chance two minutes later as he eventually found himself on the end of a deflected delivery from Peters, but his header drifted wide of the left-hand post. The visitors were then forced into a change as Higgs sustained an injury before taking the subsequent goal-kick, resulting in Blackburn loanee Jason Brown taking his place for his Leeds debut. Soon after, Naylor joined Bruce in the book for a foul on Livermore.

Further opportunities came and went for the hosts to cement their lead, Townsend seeing a shot take a deflection off Bruce before the Spurs man combined with his White Hart Lane team-mate Livermore from the corner to set up Scotland, but his stabbed effort was saved by Brown. Priskin also wasted a chance as he smashed a shot over when he might have played the ball to Livermore instead.

Much like they were at Reading, Keane’s side were then punished for their poor finishing. A free kick by Brown sailed over both Smith and McAuley, allowing the ball to bounce to Somma. He rolled it into the path of substitute Sanchez Watt on the left who won the battle with Peters before sending a delivery onto Robert Snodgrass in the middle. The Scot fired home his first goal of the season to restore the balance at 1-1 after 77 minutes and leave the home fans with that familiar and unwanted feeling of having seen their team potentially throwing away points when they should have been several goals to the good.

That might have been a turning point in the game, but instead, Town were gifted a means to take back control of the game just two minutes later. Townsend, still dedicated to his mission of frustrating Bruce, picked up a loose ball in his own half and toyed with the Leeds defender before attempting to play a one-two with Priskin. The Hungarian gave Townsend a lot to do to get onto his return pass, but before Townsend could even get there, he was brought down on the touchline by Bruce sliding in. Referee Hill saw the challenge as warranting a second yellow, handing Bruce a rather embarrassing early end to his Portman Road return and leaving the visitors a man down with 10 minutes to play.

The decision arguably proved decisive too. With Connor Wickham replacing Scotland as the Blues lined up to take a corner, the poor delivery was cleared by Howson, but Edwards ran back to collect the loose ball on the right wing before turning and swinging a cross back into the box. Tommy Smith, who had been at fault in the build up to Snodgrass’ equaliser, made a run into the perfect position and got his head underneath the ball to nod past Brown and restore Ipswich’s lead at 2-1 with 82 minutes played. Having missed so many chances to kill the game off, the goal was a mighty relief for the watching Town faithful, with the Blues now heading for a third home win of the campaign.

Town still had several chances to extend the lead as the game wore on, substitute Wickham denied from long range by Jason Brown before Townsend slipped a shot across the face of goal. On this occasion however, the missed chances were by now of no importance as Hill sounded the final whistle to hand Ipswich the three points and send them back into the playoff places, with Leeds slipping to 10th following a second successive defeat.

Having missed chances to seal a comfortable win and then ending up conceding an equaliser, it must have felt like Ipswich were destined for more dropped points in this contest. However, Keane’s team have proven difficult to take points off so far this season and indeed had enough in the engine to fight back for a late winner – albeit with an inadvertent helping hand from a former Blue! There is also much to be positive about regarding Livermore, who looked lively throughout as he combined with Townsend and was to thank for setting up the opener with an excellent pass. The story of the game however will probably belong to Tommy Smith who, having not even been picked for the initial starting XI, not only found himself somewhat the villain of the piece for his mistake in the run-up to the Leeds goal, but then making amends as the hero of the day with a well-taken winning goal. The missed chances will continue to be of concern, but as long as at least someone keeps finding the net eventually, Town should remain confident of a decent finish this season.

Ipswich: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Smith, Eastman (Priskin 52), Leadbitter, Edwards (Brown 84), Livermore, Townsend, Kennedy, Scotland – Not used: Murphy, Healy, Murray

Leeds: Higgs (Brown 62), Bruce (s/o 79), Collins, Naylor, McCartney, Kilkenny (Watt 74), Howson, Johnson (Becchio 74), Faye, Snodgrass, Somma – Not used: Gradel, Clayton, Hughes, Nunez.

Were you at Portman Road for the visit of Leeds? What did you make of Jake Livermore on his home debut? And with a lot of wasted chances in recent matches, do we still need more options up front? Vote in our latest poll on this debate and have your say by registering with Vital Ipswich:

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