Ipswich’s Freddie Sears nets against Sheffield Wednesday
WHILE the Championship season might be at an embryonic stage, Mick McCarthy appears to have all the right tools in place to mastermind another top-six tilt in the coming months.
Sheffield Wednesday arrived in Suffolk as a new-look but much-heralded side, but it was old-stager McCarthy who saw his Ipswich Town gain their first three points of the campaign.
A fantastic first 25 minutes was lit up by a goal apiece within one minute and 50 seconds before Tommy Smith stooped to ultimately earn his side a well-deserved victory.
After Ipswich endured play-off heartache at the hands of arch rivals Norwich last season, McCarthy introduced pace into his impressive workmanlike side via season-long loanees Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Ryan Fraser.
And the Premier League duo showed why their parent clubs – Arsenal and Bournemouth respectively – rate them so highly with a fine mix of attacking flair and the defensive attributes craved by their temporary boss.
Coming a week after letting a two-goal lead slip in injury time at Brentford, McCarthy said: “I am delighted to have the two wide players. They are both outstanding talents but there were some great performances – Freddie Sears was outstanding.
“We had to come from behind to beat a very good team which means we showed all the attributes you need to be a success in this league.
“Near the end, I am sure my heart was going a little faster than it should but we were bound to be a little nervy.”
A fantastic opening – which saw the impressive Marco Matias hit a post for the visitors and last season’s Championship top scorer Daryl Murphy twice go close for Ipswich – finally saw the deadlock broken on 19 minutes.
Matias was again the danger, outpacing Smith and then drilling a cross which Bartosz Bialkowski could only parry straight to Ross Wallace who fired the ball into the roof of the net.
But the impressive travelling sup- port were silenced with two minutes when Wednesday skipper Glenn Loovens and right-back Jeremy Helan woefully dithered with the ball in the air, allowing man of the match Sears to nip in and drill the ball past Keiren Westwood’s near post.
The remainder of the first half was more nip-and-tuck than easy-on-the-eye but Ipswich only had to wait eight minutes after the restart to lead for the first time.
They had started the second half on the front-foot and a sustained period of pressure ended with Fraser acting as the catalyst for the decisive goal.
Beating Lucas Joao with ease, the winger’s cross was too hot to handle for Westwood allowing Smith to head home from close range.
The home side should have made the game safe – and allow McCarthy’s heart to slow down – but Christophe Berra was twice denied by goalline clearances.
The closest the visitors came to drawing level was a late run and shot by Joao which was sneaking into the corner before the diving Bialkowski clawed the ball wide.
New Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal said: “I am unhappy about the result but I am proud of my players who fought for the whole 96 minutes and also our fans who supported the team during and after the match.
“We knew this would be one of the hardest matches in the Championship but in some parts we controlled the game and we put Ipswich under pressure.”
TRICK SHOT: Ipswich’s Freddie Sears scores the equaliser from a tight angle