Barnsley suffered defeat on the opening day of the 2016/17 season after a flurry of second half goals, and a hat-trick for the Tractor Boys debutant Grant Ward secured a 4-2 win for the home side. The result comes despite some very positive play from Paul Heckingbottom’s team and the Reds giving an excellent account of themselves for large periods of the game.
Both teams endured a cagey start to the game as the two sides looked to settle into the new season and win the aerial battle in the early moments. The Reds stood their ground in the opening stages of the game despite glimpses of positive play from Ipswich.
The Reds were forced into a very early change on four minutes after Sam Winnall went down clutching his hamstring following an innocuous looking challenge. Marley Watkins came on to replace last season’s top goal scorer and joined Tom Bradshaw in the attack.
Watkins made an immediate impact showing great strength throughout, finding space in the channels and holding off his defenders to keep the Reds in possession.
Ipswich, having played at Championship level for the past 15 years, showed what they we’re capable of on seven minutes. After the ball fell kindly to Kevin Bru, the tenacious midfielder quickly sent Murphy through on goal. The centre forward was about the pull the trigger but Marc Roberts raced back superbly to make the tackle and deny the front man. Further long range efforts from Bru minutes later put additional pressure on the Reds, but the defence stood firm and limited the hosts.
On 15 minutes, Barnsley’s injury problems worsened as Josh Scowen suffered a cut to the head and had to leave the field temporarily for treatment. It left the Reds playing with 10 men for twelve minutes of the game.
After a fairly slow start, the Reds gradually worked their way into the game and put a number of teasing balls into the box. Marc Roberts launched a long throw towards the pack, which was plucked out of the air by Bialkowski.
The first real chance of the game came on 20 minutes as Marley Watkins whipped in a pinpoint cross and found Tom Bradshaw in space 10 yards out from goal. The Reds summer signing connected well with a powerful header but it went straight into the gloves of Bialkowski.
The Reds continued to perform well in the first half and enjoyed the better of the chances. On 32 minutes Adam Hammill, brought back memories of that famous strike at Wembley. The skilful winger, who was a prominent presence the Reds attack, picked up the ball on the left wing with three defenders around him. He danced his way towards goal and fired a strike from 35 yards out towards the top corner. He had the keeper is beaten but it flew just wide!
On 38 minutes Ipswich broke away on the counter attack, despite what appeared to be a clear foul on Ryan Kent. McGoldrick fed Sears in the box who shot straight at Adam Davies. That was arguably the best of the hosts’ chances in a half where the Reds enjoyed some very positive spells
Ryan Kent, making his Barnsley debut, looked lively in the first have and caused problems throughout, operating on the right wing. On 41 minutes the winger surged into the box taking on two defenders, he got in a good cross but it was well cleared.
On 42 minutes the Reds could have been ahead. Hammill again picked up the ball on the left and played a perfectly weighted cross into the danger zone. Watkins knocked down the ball well for Bradshaw but his attempt at goal was blocked by Berra in the heart of the host’s defence for a corner.
Towards the end of the first half the Reds continued to pile on the pressure and again could have been ahead, but we’re denied by a world class save from Bialkowski. Hourihane picked up the ball and played it into the box; it hit Roberts and fell kindly for Bradshaw. The frontman thought he had opened his account for the Reds but Bialkowski tipped it wide with a superb save to his left. Hourihane then left fly with a long range effort which went just wide as the Reds edged what was an entertaining first half.
HALF TIME: Ipswich Town 0-0 Barnsley.
The hosts made two changes at half time with Ward and Grant replacing Bru and Bishop. The second half got off to an emphatic start with two quick fire strikes to send the tie into a second half goal fest. 30 seconds after the restart, the host took the lead to put Barnsley undeservedly behind in a tie that they had battled well in. After a long throw by the hosts, the ball found its way to McGoldrick who knocked the ball into the patch of Grant Ward. The summer signing finished coolly to score a debut goal and put the Tractor Boys 1-0 up.
Despite the setback, the Reds remained positive and scored a deserved equaliser just three minutes later. Scowen battle bravely and played a pass into Conor Hourihane in the box. The Irishman prodded the ball in from 8 yards to score against his former club and put the Reds on level terms. It was opportunistic from Hourihane, who saw a chance to get in behind the Ipswich defence and volley in to level the match! The goal was more than the Reds had earned after a solid 1st half performance.
Adam Hammill continued to cause the back line problems, and despite defenders doubling up on him on the left wing, he still managed to get some good crosses into the box and ask questions of the centre halves.
On 61 minutes, Ipswich regained the lead and it was that man Grant Ward once again, who fired home from just inside the box. After the Reds fail to clear the danger, the ball fell to the former Rotherham loanee and he struck a shot towards goal which deflected in off Scowen and past Adam Davies at the near post to put the hosts 2-1 up.
Two minutes later, Ipswich extended their lead after the referee adjudged Yiadom to have fouled Murphy. The two payers came together in the left hand side of the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. David McGoldrick came up and stuck the penalty away confidently to put Ipswich 3-1 up.
Again, the Reds didn’t let allow the setback to trouble them and looked to get back into the game with some direct play. Watkins worked the ball well down the right hand side and found Hourihane in space. The skipper played in a teasing cross into the box, but Roberts, Watkins and Scowen couldn’t quite get quite get on to the end of it.
Ipswich’s Championship pedigree was starting to show and McGoldrick continued to cause problems for the Reds backline in what was a much improved second half performance for the Ipswich front man. On 68 minutes he worked his way past Marc Roberts, but could only shoot straight at Davies.
The Reds then got themselves back in the game on 74 minutes as Marley Watkins opened his account for the season. The big man jumped highest in a crowded penalty area to head home a delightful free kick sent in by Conor Hourihane! 3-2
Sensing an equaliser, the Reds continued to get forward as Ipswich dropped back to defend their lead and see the game out. Andy Yiadom got past his marker to whip a ball into the box, but the danger was cleared.
On 84 minutes, Ipswich scored what proved to be the killer goal. With the Reds seeking an equaliser, this inevitably created space at the back. After more neat build up play by the hosts, the ball again dropped to Grant Ward on the edge of the box who shot low to Adam Davies’ left and scored to complete a debut hat-trick and put Ipswich 4-2 up.
The Reds refused to give in a kept surging forward in the final stages. Hammill continued to drive towards goal and won a free kick 35 yards out. Alfie Mawson powered a shot over the Ipswich wall but it went just wide of Bialkowski’s goal.
In stoppage time, Bialkowski made another excellent save on the line deny another Reds debutant Stefan Payne at close range after Hammill’s trickery on the left.
The hosts saw out the remainder of the game and inflicted an opening day defeat for the Championship newcomers. Next up in the league for Paul Heckingbottom’s men is Derby County a week today. The Reds will be looking to make the most of home advantage and get their 2016/17 Championship season off the mark.
FULL TIME: Ipswich Town 4-2 Barnsley.
Reds: Davies (GK), Yiadom, Roberts, Mawson, White, Hammill, Scowen, Hourihane (c), Kent (Moncur 72), Bradshaw (Payne 72), Winnall (Watkins 4)
Subs: Townsend (GK), Watkins, Nyatanga, Moncur, Lee, Bree, Payne
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski (GK), Knudsen, Chambers (c), Berra, Bishop (Ward 46), Skuse, Murphy, McGoldrick (Pitman 80), Webster, Bru (Grant 46), Sears
Subs: Gerken, Smith, Pitman, Digby, Ward, Douglas, Grant
Attendance: 17,370 (1,117 Reds).