Ipswich 2 Blackburn 2
Edwards (5) Edun (90+1) Graham (20) Dack (29)
Paul Hurst’s Ipswich salvaged a draw courtesy of a late strike from Fulham loanee Tayo Edun.
Trailing 2-1 with four minutes of added time remaining, the England under-19 midfielder’s cross looped beyond Blackburn’s David Raya to give the home side a point.
It came after Blackburn had fought back with strikes from Danny Graham (20) and Bradley Dack (29) following the opening goal of the game scored by Ipswich after five minutes.
On the scoresheet was Ipswich debutant Gwion Edwards, who met a cross from Freddie Sears to head home.
Ipswich: Bialkowski, Spence (Woolfenden 38), Donacien, Chambers, Knudsen, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes (Edun 60), Sears (Morris 79), Edwards, Harrison
Blackburn: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Smallwood, Evans, Dack (Conway 83), Samuel (Palmer 62), Bennett, Graham (Nuttall 68)
Ipswich lined up in a 4-3-3 system with Chalobah acting as a midfield pivot alongside Downes and Skuse. Ellis Harrison was supported from the left by Freddie Sears with Gwion Edwards positioned wide on the opposite flank.
Visitors Blackburn set up in a 4-2-3-1 system. Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans sat as a midfield defensive duo, while Bradley Dack supported lone striker Danny Graham by taking up the number 10 position. Dominic Samuel played to the right of Dack with Elliot Bennett wide left.
First half takeaways:
Ipswich looked to Harrison – one of their new signings – as an attacking point from early on with Bialkowski sending a couple of goal-kicks his way.
Cole Skuse was given a slightly difference role from under previous manager Mick McCarthy. Pushing much higher up the pitch, and getting forward often, he hassled the Blackburn midfield. Further back – and playing Skuse’s former role, sat Chelsea loan signing Trevoh Chalobah.
Early momentum went the home side’s way, with Skuse and Edwards pressing high alongside Harrison – especially down’s Blackburn’s left – and numbering up on full-back Derrick Williams in a bid to prevent him getting forward. This trio was supplemented by Flynn Downes, who also played in an advanced midfield position.
In some ways, Paul Hurst set up his team to take a markedly different approach from what spectators at Portman Road would have been used to last season. At the same time however, Ipswich did play the ball forward quickly, looking to get attackers into space at the first opportunity. Skuse was guilty of some misplaced passes early on as he sought to do this.
The opening goal for Ipswich showcased some great play however. Following a throw-in on the right-hand side of the pitch, the ball was worked to Chalobah and then onto Skuse. Despite Skuse being pressured by Blackburn midfielder Richie Smallwood, he neatly worked it to Flynn Downes on his left. The latter had space with which to work, thanks notably to Corrie Evans and Smallwood being dragged towards the ball as Ipswich took the earlier throw. It offered Downes space and time to release the advancing Knudsen down the wide left, with the Danish international stroking it first time further forward onto Freddie Sears. Sears turned inside onto his right foot and played a floating ball into the Blackburn area. The advanced positioning of Cole Skuse meant the Ipswich number 8 was able to distract Mulgrew and Williams, allowing Gwion Edwards got in behind the latter to head home.
As the half progressed, both Ipswich and Blackburn sought to go direct, and Rovers often positioned themselves in a 4-5-1 formation when defending. Play was often switched to the far right hand side, where the strength of Dominic Samuel was utilised against the physical assertiveness of Knudsen.
Rovers got back into the game against the run of play via a set-piece. Chalobah gave away a free-kick for a foul on Samuel on the away side’s left. Smallwood’s free kick was high and was met by Blackburn centre-back Darragh Lenihan at the back stick – the Irishman beating Chalobah to the ball and sending it back across the penalty area. Before it could reach the hands of Ipswich keeper Bialkowski, Williams got a glance on it forcing the Polish custodian to reach back and attempt twice to paw the ball out. It hit his own played in Donacian, but before he had adjusted, Danny Graham leathered the ball home to make it 1-1.
Thereafter, Ipswich attempted to mix it up with Harrison moving to the left to try and find a way past Nyambe, and Sears coming infield. Despite not looking as much in control as before, Ipswich did continue the pressing approach adopted by Paul Hurst. The trio of Downes, Harrison and Edwards continued to make attempts to win the ball deep inside the Blackburn half. This resulted in Blackburn’s Danny Graham retreating somewhat in a bid to get on the ball in a deeper position where there was greater space.
Blackburn’s second goal came as they started to get a hold on the game. Home side full-back Jordan Spence had advanced to mark up as a Blackburn throw-in was delivered close to the halfway line. The quick thinking of Smallwood resulted him aiming a channelled ball down the line to Graham. The Rovers striker held off Donacian and sent the ball into the air for full-back Williams to chase. As a result of Spence being out of position, Blackburn gained the numerical superiority and Williams reaching the byline. Luke Chambers came across to try and block the cross, but couldn’t reach Williams in time. The Blackburn full-back sent it into the penalty area where Dack benefited from the space left by Chambers to score with his right foot. Neither Chalobah or Knudsen were able to reach him in time.
Ipswich attempted to play out the rest of the half seeking to make use of the width of the pitch, but this often left Harrison isolated in the middle.
Second half takeaways:
As Ipswich continued to rely on Harrison as the focal point of attack, Blackburn responded by marking him heavily, and the former Bristol Rovers man continued to be outnumbered. This meant he was forced to drop deeper to try and free himself and get on the ball. Rovers then sought to counteract the threat of Ipswich’s Gwion Edwards by pushing left-back Williams further up the field of play than he had done so during the first half. By this stage, Jordan Spence had gone off injured (late in the first half) and Janoi Donacian was now playing right-back with Spence’s replacement Luke Woolfenden partnering Chambers in the centre back roles.
Both teams made further personnel changes – Ipswich bringing on Edun for Downes in a like for like swap, and Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray introducing Chelsea loanee Kasey Palmer for Dominic Samuel. The latter began to take up a more central position than the man he replaced had.
Most chances in what was a more ponderous second half came from set-plays. As well as a free-kick from Mulgrew which went over, Blackburn also had the most clear-cut chance of the half. Ryan Nyambe’s cross reached Dack, who quickly put the ball in the area for Nuttall but the substitute was prevented from attacking it by Ipswich right-back Janoi Donacian. The ball ended up reaching Kasey Palmer – just a few yards away – and the chance to settle the game. In the end, a combination of Woolfenden and Bialkowski were there to block.
The second Ipswich goal stemmed from a free kick taken with left boot of Knudsen. It reached Gwion Edwards on the right of the area. The Welshman held onto it before turning back and playing it to Edun. The youngster’s attempted cross (of which there is no doubt it was) bobbled through a crowd of players and nestled into the far side of Raya’s net.
Blackburn’s compact defensive lines meant Ipswich striker Harrison was often not given any support, while in the second half Rovers did a much better job of preventing Gwion Edwards from having the kind of space he had profited from in the first 45 minutes. As the game turned into a more physical affair, the introduction of Kasey Palmer for Blackburn (alongside fellow substitute striker Joe Nuttall) gave the away side a greater physical threat. Ipswich responded to Elliot Bennett’s advancing down the Blackburn right by bringing on the more defensive Edun for Flynn Downes. A game that started brightly gave way to a more slug-it-out affair, and both sides should be relatively content with a point each.