Birmingham 3-0 Ipswich: Blues improve play-off prospects
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 23/01/16 6:55pm
Buoyant Birmingham improved their play-off prospects with an impressive 3-0 Sky Bet Championship home victory over 10-man Ipswich.
A first win in nine encounters for the Blues over Ipswich saw newcomer Will Buckley, on a month's loan from Sunderland, have a game to remember.
He scored the opening goal in the 23rd minute and on the stroke of half-time was involved in an incident in which Ipswich's Jonathan Douglas was sent off, receiving a straight red card.
Birmingham added to their goals tally with long-range efforts from Jon Toral and Maikel Kieftenbeld to record their fourth successive home win, climbing above Ipswich into seventh place.
Buckley, drafted in for his first start, could have made a dream debut as early as the fourth minute.
Kieftenbeld cleverly put Buckley in possession and it appeared a good opportunity to shoot with his right foot. Instead, he drifted left and screwed his shot wide from 10 yards.
It was a promising start as neither side appeared to have an emphasis on defence as highlighted a couple of minutes after Buckley's miss.
A left-wing cross from Ipswich's Ryan Fraser was met by Freddie Sears but he failed to control his close-range header which went just over the bar.
There was plenty of space at either end as a result Toral was able to set up several promising moves for a confident Birmingham side, lifted by the previous week's 3-0 success at Derby.
Ipswich demonstrated their attacking potential when Daryl Murphy smashed a cross-shot wide of the far post.
In a fast and open game, Ipswich goalkeeper Dean Gerken then had to make a smart save to keep out a long-range swerving shot from Toral.
Following such an explosive start the only surprise was that neither side had found the net in the opening 20 minutes.
Ipswich continued to impress with Fraser providing a good service from the left, as he did when Sears had another header well saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.
The breakthrough goal arrived in the 23rd minute. Gerken made a reflex save from Clayton Donaldson but Buckley was on hand to score the easiest of goals to atone for his earlier miss.
The goal inspired Birmingham as they proceeded to put pressure on Ipswich's big defence, with Kieftenbeld slamming a shot from the edge of the area just wide.
Kuszczak then came to Birmingham's rescue by blocking successive shots from Fraser and Sears just before the end of a high-octane first half which boiled over when Douglas was sent off for a rash tackle on Buckley in the last minute.
Ipswich were given no chance of a staging a recovery as they were effectively killed off by a 54th-minute strike from Toral which confirmed Birmingham's superiority.
Fraser, always a potential danger, had a couple of chances for Ipswich but on both occasions he was just off target.
It was to no avail as high-flying Birmingham continued their rampage with Kieftenbeld producing another scintillating shot in the 70th minute which whistled past Gerken.