Ipswich Town’s club record away run comes to an end at West Bromwich Albion in Kieran McKenna’s 100th game in charge
Kieran McKenna’s 100th match in charge of Ipswich Town ended in defeat as the Blues’ 12-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Darnell Furlong and Grady Diangana struck early in each half to end Town’s club record run of 17 away matches without defeat in a Sky Sports 5.30pm televised affair.
It also marked the first time the Blues had failed to score in 35 matches in all competitions, a run that stretched back as far as February.
Town were far from their best and failed to register a shot on target against the hosts, who claimed a deserved three points to put themselves back into the Championship play-off places.
Ipswich remain second in the table, three points behind leaders Leicester City but still holding a seven-point buffer to third-placed Leeds United, who had been held to a 1-1 draw at Rotherham United in a Yorkshire derby on Friday night.
McKenna made two changes to the side that started against Swansea City prior to the international break. Brandon Williams returned following a period of illness, with Wes Burns returning to the side from the get-go.
Harry Clarke dropped to the bench, while Omari Hutchinson was missing through illness.
Having scored in each of his last two matches, Jack Taylor started back-to-back league matches for the first time in his Town career.
West Brom boss Carlos Corberan made one change to his side, with Alex Mowatt replacing Nathaniel Chalobah in midfield.
Josh Maja and top scorer John Swift – who missed the last five matches with a calf strain – returned to the substitutes bench.
The hosts started the game the brighter and created the first big chance of the contest inside five minutes. Brandon Thomas-Asante failed to get a clean connection on an inviting Jed Wallace cross, the ball eventually rolling away for a corner.
From the set-piece, Town fell behind for the sixth match in a row. Matt Phillips’s delivery was guided on at the front post by Furlong before nestling in the far corner.
The Baggies’ tails were up and could have doubled their lead through Thomas-Asante, but Vaclav Hladky palmed his powerful effort away from the edge of the area.
A pre-planned corner routine led to the Blues’ first effort of the game on 18 minutes, when Taylor fired over having been picked out by Sam Morsy.
Nathan Broadhead fell short in his attempts to improve a reverse-pass through to Burns, moments after he connected with a corner at the front-post that struck a handful of bodies.
Conor Chaplin showed good awareness to spot Burns in space with a backwards header, but the Welshman drilled his subsequent shot over the crossbar.
Moments later, Town were dealt with a huge let-off. Luke Woolfenden miscued a clearance and Cameron Burgess did just about enough to prevent Thomas-Asante scoring as the ball bounced into Hladky’s arms.
But the Suffolk side were growing into the game, George Hirst playing in Leif Davis before the full-back was bundled over in the box without any real complaints.
A minute later, Burns picked up a loose ball inside the West Brom half but failed to produce a pass for Hirst, the ball running through to goalkeeper Alex Palmer.
Diangana was the first man into the book for lunging in on Hladky as he picked up the ball.
Wallace threatened a second Baggies goal as the half headed towards its climax after being picked out by Diangana, but his drilled cross was cleared from danger by Woolfenden.
Phillips found the ball at his feet following a deflected cross from Wallace, his fierce volleyed effort towards goal cannoning off the heel of Davis as the hosts took their lead into half-time.
Inside the opening minute of the second half, Morsy saw a cross towards Hirst unorthodoxly cleared off the chest of Bartley.
West Brom doubled their lead a minute later with a rapid counter-attack. Wallace and Thomas-Asante were heavily involved, with Diangana finding the finishing touch to roll into the net off the post for his third goal in five matches.
The Blues should have found themselves three goals behind just a matter of minutes later when Philips somehow missed the target when it looked easier to score with a simple tap-in from Wallace’s ball across the face of goal.
On the hour mark, Williams was booked for fouling Conor Townsend on the near touchline, before McKenna turned to his bench to replace Taylor and Broadhead with Massimo Luongo and Marcus Harness.
Morsy went into the book for a challenge on Jeremy Sarmiento on the edge of the area, but Swift’s free kick hit the Ipswich wall.
With Town posing little threat to Palmer’s goal, Freddie Ladapo and Kayden Jackson took over from Hirst and Burns for the final 15 minutes.
West Brom thought they had a chance when Sarmiento broke away down the left, only for Williams to produce an important intervention while on the ground.
Dane Scarlett was the final Town forward introduced to the fray when he replaced Chaplin with six minutes remaining.
Scarlett fired just wide of the far post in the final scheduled minute of the game with a left-footed strike on the turn, the Blues’ best chance of the half.
The remaining five additional minutes were seen out with relative ease as West Brom – who have recorded the most clean sheets in the Championship this season – became the first to secure one against McKenna’s men this campaign.
The Blues return to Portman Road on Wednesday evening where they entertain Millwall (8pm).
West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Palmer; Townsend, Kipre, Bartley, Furlong; Mowatt, Yokuslu (Molumby 71); Wallace (c) (Ajayi 90), Diangana (Swift 71), Phillips (Sarmiento 71); Thomas-Asante (Maja 80). Subs: Griffiths, Pieters, Pipa, Fellows.
Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1):Hladky; Davis, Burgess, Woolfenden, Williams; Taylor (Luongo 61), Morsy (c); Broadhead (Harness 61), Chaplin (Scarlett 83), Burns (Jackson 75); Hirst (Ladapo 75). Subs: Walton, Clarke, Ball, Tuanzebe.
Booked: Williams, Morsy.
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).
Attendance: 24,001 (1,989 Ipswich).
SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Wes Burns.A difficult decision in comfortably Town’s worst performance of the season.The Welshman was the main outlet on the right, particularly in the first half, getting into good positions but failing to capitalise.