MICK’S AIMING TO WARD OFF DROP!
STAYING in the league is still the main focus for Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy, despite his side moving another point further away from danger with a draw against Birmingham.
Both sides are now six points ahead of third-bottom Blackburn Rovers after a frustrating, tetchy game.
Jonathan Grounds fired Birmingham in front two minutes into the second half following a save from Bartosz Bialkowski, and Grant Ward would have felt fortunate to see his cross fly in at the back post to draw the game level in a stifled second 45 minutes from Ipswich.
“We’ve got to get enough points to stay in the league,” said McCarthy said with regards to the rest of the reason. “That’s the important thing, nothing else.
“I’m not bothered about what people think about me, I just don’t want to be involved in a relegation.
“The first half was just a Championship scrap, but we shaded it. In the second half we started alright and we lost all the momentum by giving a s **** goal away.
“Bart kept us in it with a save and we weren’t playing well so they were always going to gain the momentum. It was a horrible atmosphere and we got away with a wonder strike – or lucky cross – and got a point.”
The early signs signalled a defensive Birmingham outlook, with their first attempt on goal coming in the 40th minute. Before Lukas Jutkiewicz headed over, David McGoldrick wasted a good chance and Freddie Sears had an even better one diverted wide by Tomasz Kuszczak.
The visitors abandoned that approach for the second half and the reward was immediate. Jutkiewicz saw his low shot well saved by Bialkowski, but Grounds continued his run into the box and calmly fired the ball high into the goal.
A fantastic disguised pass from Craig Gardener had Jutkiewicz through again, but Bialkowski was equal to him and pushed his stinging effort clear of the goal.
After a disjointed 20 minutes and growing frustration from the Ipswich crowd, the home side drew level. Ward’s cross from the right wing was hit with plenty of power, and somehow managed to evade Kuszczak on its way into the far sidenetting. Gianfranco Zola’s side still only have two victories in 2017, but the Birmingham manager left Suffolk feeling as though his players edged this tight game, and that they were unlucky to concede the secondhalf equaliser.
“I’m pleased with a point and I’m pleased with the performance,” he said. “We scored, we had two very good chances to score, and we also had one at the end.
“We had a couple of great chances, but we didn’t convert. It is a pity because probably we deserved a little bit more.
“In the second half I didn’t see them scoring because we were controlling them well and we were solid at the back, so it was a surprise. We looked like we were cruising. To be fair they fought until the end and gave everything.
“Watching it back I think Tomasz was a little bit too much on the near post. If he was a bit more in the middle, as he should have been, he could have saved it. In general, I didn’t think we looked like we were going to concede any goals.
“The players fought very hard out there – a lot of players have run a lot – so it will be important to recover quickly.”
LADY LUCK: Grant Ward celebrates his leveller for Ipswich Town