Ipswich’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles shoots against Birmingham
BIRMINGHAM City boss Gary Rowett claims he has never seen a penalty decision like the one which helped Ipswich come from behind to draw on Friday night.
Rowett was furious with referee Keith Stroud after the official awarded the hosts a spot-kick despite not a single Ipswich player appealing.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross had already trickled to City goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak when Jonathan Spector made contact with the onloan Arsenal winger as he reached the byline.
Brett Pitman subsequently sent Kuszczak the wrong way to cancel out David Cotterill’s opener.
Rowett said: “The penalty was incredibly soft. It took me a while to calm down.
“I’ve been in the game a long time and I’ve never seen a penalty given for that. Keith Stroud was 60 yards away and the linesman said he didn’t see it as he had a poor angle.”
He added: “I know you can have an argument that if that’s in the middle of the pitch then it would be a foul but that’s not the point, is it?
“It has to be a definitive foul to be a penalty because it’s a big moment in the game.
“I don’t think one Ipswich player appealed; when that happens and you are that far from the action, why make a controversial decision like that unless you are 100 per cent sure?
“I was very, very frustrated for ten or 15 minutes but managed to calm down slightly in the second half.”
Rowett’s opposite number dis- agreed though, with Mick McCarthy stating it would have been a foul anywhere else on the pitch.
“Spector didn’t get the ball and, as harsh as it might seem to them, I think it is a penalty,” McCarthy said.
Arsenal loanee Maitland-Niles, who ran almost the full length of the pitch before being brought down for the penalty, had a big impact on the match and it was the 18-year-old’s quick feet and cross which led to the first significant chance, as Freddie Sears clipped the outside of the post.
At the other end Andrew Shinnie was also causing problems and Jonathan Grounds arguably should have scored when the midfielder’s through-ball left the left back one-onone with Dean Gerken, and the goalkeeper saved.
When the opening goal did come it was again Shinnie who laid the ball off for Cotterill to smash into the roof of the net on 22 minutes though Birmingham benefitted from a huge element of fortunate as Town defender Christophe Berra slipped when he was set to clear the ball.
Ipswich only had to wait ten minutes for their equaliser and the home side went on to have a number of glorious chances to take all three points.
Sears had a shot cleared from the goalline by Paul Caddis, Luke Chambers couldn’t direct a corner goalwards and Maitland-Niles sliced horribly wide from just ten yards out.
Daryl Murphy found the net 27 times during the 2014-15 campaign but he ensured he remained goalless so far this season by heading wide from a set-piece. Stephen Gleeson almost won it for Birmingham before Ipswich’s David McGoldrick dragged wide to ensure it remained 1-1. “I’m not sat here thinking we played brilliantly,” said McCarthy.
“It was a real scrap and a real tough, competitive match against a team who are well organised.
“I think we could have nicked the win in the second half with the chances we had.
“At that stage I’m thinking ‘don’t let one in at the other end’ because that can happen when you keep getting chances.
“It wasn’t to be though, so I’ll take the point. If we had drawn at Leeds and won here we’d all be feeling better, but it’s the same amount of points.”
LEVELLER: Ipswich’s Brett Pitman keeps his cool to level from the penalty spot
STAR MAN AINSLE