Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich: Tammy Abraham hits double for Dean Smith's side
Last Updated: 26/01/19 7:10pm
Tammy Abraham scored twice for Aston Villa as Ipswich boss Paul Lambert suffered an unhappy return to his former club.
The 2-1 defeat was hardly surprising, although Villa should have recorded a more conclusive win over a club in such desperate straits, who did keep the game alive with a late strike from Freddie Sears.
Town boss Paul Lambert has now seen Ipswich win just twice in 14 games under his control and there was rarely any chance of an improvement to that record against a Villa side who continue to look disjointed.
Fortunately they possess a goalscorer in Abraham who took his tally to 19 for the season in this game.
Relegation-threatened Ipswich found themselves in trouble as early as the sixth minute when Abraham notched his 10th goal in six home games.
The goal came as a result of some woeful Ipswich defending as the uncertain Bartosz Bialkowski could not decide whether to come off his line or remain rooted. The indecision proved fatal as Abraham moved in to head home a pinpoint free-kick from Conor Hourihane.
It was an ominous start for the Tractor Boys, who had previously collected only one away point from a possible 18.
Villa - without Jack Grealish for a 10th successive game, a spell across which Villa have only won one of eight league games - made their customary high-level start.
Fortunately for Villa their opposition lacked the power to counter-attack in strength.
The result was that the team with the worst defensive record in the Sky Bet Championship were able to maintain a slender lead.
There were, however, occasions when James Chester in particular was ill at ease and Ipswich were given a boost to their flagging fortunes to take the game to Villa.
James Collins, who was in the Ipswich team only a month after turning down the offer of a short-term contract with his old club Villa, was a stalwart in Town's defence.
In quick succession he halted the progress of Anwar El Ghazi and then headed away a dangerous cross from the on-loan Lille winger.
Twice John McGinn tested Bialkowski with powerful shots, while the Ipswich 'keeper had to show some smart reflex action to keep out a drive from Abraham as Villa failed to build upon their early advantage.
Villa maintained their relentless pressure in the second half but Ipswich resolutely kept themselves in the game until the 61st minute, when Abraham converted a penalty after McGinn had been needlessly impeded by Alan Judge.
But the introduction of Colin Quaner gave Ipswich more attacking pressure and in the 76th minute Sears scored with a 25-yard rising drive, while an 80th-minute glancing header from Trevoh Chalobah hit the outside of a post.
Dean Smith: "We could have won 5-0. It didn't matter as it was about getting a win at home, which we thoroughly we deserved. It was comfortable at 2-0 until Freddie Sears stuck one away in the top corner. Then we had a five-minute spell when there was a bit of panic trying to get over the line.
"I was disappointed it wasn't emphatic as it should have been. Tammy should have been walking away with his 21st and 22nd goals of the season, while John McGinn should also have scored a couple. We had a number of chances and had we been more clinical we would have made the game more comfortable."
Paul Lambert: "They were two very poor decisions. It was not a Villa penalty while it was a blatant handball when we should have had a penalty - but some of the decisions were strange.
"The referee missed two big moments in the match and that was my big gripe about the game. You make your own luck but you do look for things to go your way."