Fratton fire condemns Ipswich to back-to-back defeats


Ipswich remain in search of their first win since bonfire night after Ronan Curtis led Portsmouth to a 1-0 victory.

In a hostile Fratton Park, the hosts play-off hopes were given a boost when Ronan Curtis’ goal five minutes after the break secured all three points.

A hectic first-half remained goalless as the visitors stood firm to Portsmouth’s aggressive nature. Pompey’s Ross McCrorie and Ryan Williams had chances but saves from an inspired Will Norris ensured Paul Lambert’s men remained unscathed.

But hopes of an Ipswich revival in the second-half were slow in coming as Ronan Curtis opened the scoring with a classical piece of wing play. Cutting in from the left, Curtis fired with his favoured right-foot to power the ball past Norris.

In the dying embers, Ipswich captain Luke Chambers was sent off after he picked up his second yellow. It summed up his and the side’s day, who were outfought and dominated from the first whistle.

After a blistering start to the campaign – where they went unbeaten in the first eleven matches – Ipswich drop outside the automatic spots, in third place. Portsmouth stay in 10th.

If supporters felt the early proceedings would have a sense of caution to it, given both sides stuttering form, they would’ve been in for a pleasant surprise. Both sides, almost boxer-like in their approach, went blow-for-blow from the off.

The game sprung into life after just ten seconds when Ellis Harrison was booked for a heavy challenge on Ipswich captain Luke Chambers.

The foul instantly set the tone for the match and proved to be a sign of things to come.

Two minutes later, Ryan Williams had the first chance of the game when his deflected effort called Ipswich shot-stopper Will Norris into action.

It was a lively start from the hosts, who were looking for a response following their second-half hammering at Accrington Stanley last week. Despite taking the lead, Kenny Jackett’s men fell to a 4-1 defeat, compounding their misery through a 45-minute collapse.

Norris was on hand again to deny full-back Ross McCrorie from opening the scoring. Diving low to his left, the Wolves loanee managed to get his fingertips on the effort and turned it around the post.

Ronan Curtis saw his close-range effort sail over the bar before Ben Close’s dipping strike was held comfortably by the busy Norris.

In what was becoming an ever-increasing gritty affair, with yellow cards aplenty, the Fratton faithful were encouraged with the energy shown from their players.

The dogged, rough nature of the match was something Portsmouth notoriously revel in and that showed no signs changing, despite the dramatic downpour midway through the first-half. Meanwhile Ipswich, for all their technical talent, were struggling to find composure and rhythm.

Paul Lambert laid his cards out on the table five minutes before half-time, when he brought off defender Toto Nsiala. The centre-half was having a torrid time amidst the Fratton fire.

The scoreline remained goalless at the break – Photo: @IpswichFC/Twitter

The second-half replicated the quick start of the first whistle when, seconds after the restart, Ryan Williams saw his header cleared off the line by Luke Garbutt.

The break certainly picked up where the first had left it as Norris was in the firing line again. A superb double saved denied Ellis Harrison from getting his fifth of the campaign.

But the pressure eventually told when Norris was beaten minutes later.

Ronan Curtis drove in from the left before striking a thunderous effort past the Ipswich shot-stopper and into the top-left corner. It was the winger’s eighth of the season and kept him at the top of Pompey’s goal-scoring chart.

The Tractor Boys who until now, held the best away record in the league, were left reeling. Even the most hardened Ipswich fan would have accepted the goal had been coming, such of Pompey’s dominance.

But completely against the run of the play, Ipswich were handed a gift to level when the Portsmouth defence failed to clear a hopeful cross.

The ball ended up at the feet of top-scorer, James Norwood, unmarked in the six-yard box. Somehow, his scuffed effort went past Craig MacGillivray and past the post.

Luke Chambers summed up Ipswich’s day when he was given his marching orders in the closing stages. It was his second yellow and the tug on Ellis Harrison’s shirt left referee Brett Huxtable with no choice.

And that was the last notable moment as Portsmouth recorded a much-needed win and eased the pressure on Kenny Jackett and his men.

Team Lineups

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): MacGillivay; McCrorie (Bolton 42′), Burgess, Raggett, Walkes; Close, Naylor (c); Williams, Cannon (Evans 65′), Curtis; Harrison

Substitutes unused: Bass, Downing, Harness, Pitman, Marquis

Ipswich (5-3-2): Norris; Edwards (Jackson 70′), Chambers (c), Nsiala (Judge 39′), Woolfenden, Garbutt; Skuse (Donacien 65′), Downes, Nolan; Norwood, Keane

Substitutes unused: Holy, Wilson, Dozzell, Huws

Attendance: 18,801 (1,994 away)


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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