RICH STRIKES AS MICK TICKS OFF TRACTOR BOY CRITICS
Ipswich boss enjoys crucial win
SUPER sub Richard Chaplow struck a dramatic late winner to re-ignite Ipswich’s faltering promotion push – as the Hornets yet again failed to defeat a title rival.
The 30-year-old Chaplow, making only his third appearance since joining on loan from Millwall in February, capitalised on a dreadful error by Ben Watson to send Ipswich into sixth and their fans into raptures.
The late collapse capped a miserable day for Watford, who also lost centre-half Joel Ekstrand to a serious knee injury and slipped a point behind Bournemouth at the summit.
With the exception of Brentford, the Hornets have now failed to register a win against any side in the top eight - a worrying trend with Derby and Middlesbrough next in line.
Manager Slavisa Jokanovic says he couldn’t care less about that statistic. while counterpart Mick McCarthy had short shrift for those who have attacked his defenders for a string of recent blunders.
“You saw why I told those who criticised them to Foxtrot Oscar,” said McCarthy, whose indestructible back four prevented Watford from registering a single shot on target.
“That still applies to anyone who wants to have a go. I trust the players. They’re a real honest bunch of lads and the only thing they leave on the pitch is a good impression.”
Defeat for Ipswich – who had won just one of the last five – would have left them three points adrift of the playoffs. Now, they are six shy of top spot.
“I think you’ll find I’ve been calling this division bonkers since about August,” added McCarthy.
“I ruled us out two weeks ago, but, as I keep saying to everyone, the only thing that matters is how many points we end up with. Before we came here, I said, with the next two games, we could be really out of it or back in it. At the moment, we’re back in it.”
Chaplow’s late intervention was the undoubted highlight of a match gen- erally devoid of any real tempo or quality.
Partly, that was down to Ekstrand’s early injury. Spotting Tyrone Mings dawdling, the Swede darted in to nick possession, only to collapse when the Ipswich man twisted free.
A stretcher was called for within seconds.
Bar a bad miss from Adlene Guedioura and a pot shot from Kevin Bru, the rest of the half was a write-off.
“Joel has a knee problem,” said Jokanovic. “It was a twist. It could be very serious but I don’t know at the moment.We need to check.”
Watford improved in the second half, with the hard-working Troy Deeney crossing for Odion Ighalo to fire over, before skying a decent chance of his own. The injection of pace provided by sub Matej Vydra also gave added threat.
But, in truth, Watford rarely got behind an Ipswich defence brilliantly drilled by Tommy Smith and proficiently screened by Cole Skuse.
And, when Watson foolishly tried to control a hooked clearance from Jay Tabb, Ipswich sub Freddie Sears pounced, robbing the former Wigan man before playing Chaplow through. With Watford stranded upfield after attacking a corner, he had an age to pick his spot and duly rolled the ball past Heurelho Gomes. Cue pandemonium, with the entire Ipswich bench charging across.
“We tried the whole game to find a way to win,” said a downcast Jokanovic. “But we definitely chose the wrong moment to attack with so many players.We should have closed the game. I take the blame for that.”
McCarthy said: “It’s a huge result for us. Now I’m looking forward to the international break so I can go on the lash for a couple of days!”
AGONY: Watford’s Joel Ekstrand lies injured with a twisted knee
BLUE HEAVEN: Ipswich Town’s Richard Chaplow celebrates scoring their winner with teammates and fans