Despair for Dike as Baggies earn deserved point

Ipswich Town 2 West Bromwich Albion 2

Albion’s American international striker, Daryl Dike, suffered yet another injury set back at Portman Road after he was substituted just nine minutes after coming with what appeared to be another Achilles problem. The 23-year-old was in obvious distress as he left the field, although the severity of the injury is not yet known, but his replacement, John Swift, scored what looked like being the winner for the visitors before Hutchinson’s late equaliser.

While the injury to Dike was the one that made the headlines, and is obviously heart-breaking for him should it keep him out for another extended period, it was the earlier injury that had the more profound effect on the game. Kyle Bartley has been a rock in the centre of the Albion defence this season and he put in another excellent performance in the first half at Portman Road as the hosts were kept at bay, but he was forced off with a calf injury at half time leading to a switch of personnel that Carlos Corberán felt had a detrimental impact on his team’s performance.

He opted to switch Okay Yokuşlu into defence bringing Nathaniel Chalobah into midfield rather than bringing on Erik Pieters and, as a result, Albion both lost some control in midfield and were not as solid at the back. Ipswich equalised within minutes of the restart and were a much more potent force in the second half.

The Baggies had started the game well and deserved their lead. It was a superbly taken goal by Tom Fellows and you could see on his face what it meant to him. Conor Chaplin missed a good chance for the hosts before half time but Albion were otherwise fairly comfortable until the break.

Both Ipswich’s goals owed something to fortune – for the first one, the ball deflected into the path of Broadhead as Okay and Edmundson challenged for the ball but Welsh international did finish it very well. For the second, Cédric Kipré was well-placed to clear the ball off the line but Alex Palmer got a hand to the ball causing it to deflect over the Frenchman’s foot.

In between those two goals, John Swift scored a wonderful goal, his first since October, finding the inside of the post from 25 yards. I have said in the past that Swift rarely impacts a game from the bench, but on this occasion it was as good an impact as you could hope for.

The lateness of the equaliser was frustrating but a draw was probably a fair result and I would have been happy with a point before the game – it at least put an end to the Baggies’ losing run on the road against a team that had previously only dropped seven points on their own patch all season. It was definitely an encouraging away performance and would have been good enough to beat most teams in this division.

The remainder of the season is split into two groups of eight games either side of the March international break, with each lasting only five weeks. It is a relentless run-in but Albion have put themselves in an excellent position to claim a top six spot. Let’s hope they can follow it through.

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