BERRA RESCUES TRACTOR BOYS
FIVE goals, an early shock, defensive errors, fine finishes and a dramatic late twist – this was 90 minutes that perfectly encapsulated the craziest Championship season ever.
Ipswich and doomed Blackpool might have mixed in different ends of the second tier this season, but they contrived to produce a cracker at Portman Road.
At the end of it, Mick McCarthy’s men were the big winners in the race to claim one of the two final play-off spots.
How they did it, at this delicate stage of the season, mattered little to the Ipswich Town boss.
McCarthy said: “We deserved to win and at this moment in time it doesn’t really matter how we get the three points.
“We had enough chances to win two matches.We would love to be sweeping everyone aside but we haven’t done that all season.
“I knew Blackpool would be a tough nut to crack. They have some good players and they can take chances as they have nothing to lose.
“We now have 71 points, my best total since I’ve been here, but we are still nowhere near clinching a top-six spot. It is nice being back in the top six but my mantra all season has been that it will go right to the end.”
After losing to Huddersfield on Easter Monday – the same day that Blackpool's inevitable relegation was sealed – Ipswich went into this match knowing only a win would do.
With just four minutes on the clock, the doom-mongers were dominating social media after the Seasiders took a shock lead.
17-year-old Henry Cameron, whose performance rightly drew praise from his manager Lee Clark, was the architect down the left-wing but Andrea Orlandi was afforded far too much time in turning in the low cross.
To their credit, the home side quickly hit back, turning the scoreline on its head with two goals in four rapid minutes.
Both times it was the name of Freddie Sears on the scoresheet. Different strikes, the first a sublime left-foot finish into the roof of the net and the second a sixyard predator’s finish after the ball fell to him off the luckless Orlandi.
What Ipswich failed to do was add a third that would have killed off any hopes in tangerine.
Daryl Murphy and Christophe Berra had chances before Sears should have claimed a hat-trick shortly before the hour mark, nutmegging the hapless and helpless Peter Clarke but shooting straight at Elliot Parish.
Four minutes later, those misses looked costly as Orlandi’s quick-thinking free-kick found Gary Madine and the striker’s low cross was turned in at the far post by Cameron.
There was still plenty of time but Ipswich seemed to be running out of steam. That was until the 83rd minute when Championship top-scorer Daryl Murphy turned provider, expertly controlling Luke Chambers’ long ball before producing a teasing cross which allowed Berra to head home at the far post to clinch three crucial points.
For Blackpool boss Clark, his focus is more on the ‘massive summer’ ahead.
He said: “I now need to make decisions about who will be part of the huge rebuilding job we need to do over the summer.
“I have told the players they are playing for their futures, whether here or at another club, and also that they are playing for their wives and their children as so many are out of contract.
“I am a big admirer of Mick McCarthy and his teams so I expected a difficult game. But for us to come here and be ten minutes away from getting a point was encouraging.
“When you score two goals here, you expect to get something but our Achilles’ heel has been conceding poor goals.”
HEADS I WIN: Christophe Berra rises highest to score the winning goal for Ipswich
CRACKER: Freddie Sears fires home his first goal