MCCARTHY ALL SMILES AS GARNER STARS
ACONCERNING injury to Andre Dozzell aside, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy was left breathing a sigh of relief as his team indicated they are up for the fight this season with victory over Birmingham.
Despite being just the opening day, the pressure was already seemingly on the Tractor Boys boss after a 6-1 pre-season defeat to Charlton last weekend, which further angered some fans who had called for his head last term.
He had spoken in the run-up to this game at Portman Road about the need to keep the supporters onside and his players appeared to take heed of his works with a spirited performance on their home patch.
Debutant Joe Garner marked his return to English football by scoring the winner on 50 minutes to leave McCarthy delighted to get off to a victorious start, despite a serious-looking knee injury to Dozzell which saw the promising youngster leave the field on a stretcher.
“It was a perfect first day really apart from Andre’s injury,” said McCarthy. “I’m worried it might be a cruciate ligament so we’ll find out on Monday, I can’t confirm or deny that until then.
“It was a good goal and we played really well and overall we deserved to win.
“Wardy (Grant Ward) was brilliant and continued his run and released Jonas (Knudsen) who put a really good ball in and Garner came from a wide position and had a look over his shoulder and scored. It was a really good quality goal.
“It’s lovely when it goes our way but we defended well too.”
It was the visitors who nearly took the lead when a throw-in from Marc Roberts was headed goalwards by Michael Morrison, who beat Tommy Smith in the air, but Town goalkeeper Bartosz Białkowski smothered the ball on the line.
The best move of the first half came in the 21st minute when Garner freed Ward inside the box but his shot sailed past the post.
Ipswich continued to threaten with City keeper David Stockdale having to be alert to Gardner and Freddie Sears, before Dozzell, who helped England win the Under-19 European Championship title last month, fell awkwardly and was replaced by Flynn Downes.
Early in the second half Stockdale came out to smother a shot from Sears and Jordan Spence was fortunate to receive only a yellow card following a foul on Donaldson midway in the Ipswich area.
Garner put Town in front in 50th minute following a slick move down the left with Knudsen crossing for the striker to fire home for his first goal in the Championship since April 2016.
And after seeing his side fail to muster an equaliser, City manager Harry Redknapp conceded his side were still short of key players.
“At 0-0 I could not see us getting beat. I thought if anyone was going to win it was going to be us,” he said.
“The players gave everything as I knew they would but we are short. I looked at the bench and I had no change. I need options.
“We have tried very hard but everyone we have tried for has not happened. People have asked for too much money.
“If I can get the players then I believe I can build a team that will challenge for promotion but it’s a weak squad at the moment.”
DEBUT TO REMEMBER: Joe Garner (right) is congratulated by Luke Chambers after scoring the winner