Ipswich 1-1 Birmingham: Tractor Boys relegated to Sky Bet League One
Ipswich needed a win to avoid relegation on Saturday, but could only draw against Birmingham
Last Updated: 13/04/19 6:54pm
Ipswich's long reign in the Championship is over after their 1-1 draw with Birmingham meant an end to 17 consecutive seasons in the second tier.
Goals came just after the start of both halves with Lukas Jutkiewicz putting the visitors ahead in the seventh minute only for Gwion Edwards to reply in the 46th minute.
Relegation to League One - a level the club has not played at since 1957 - had long looked a matter of inevitability for a team that has won just four games all season.
Birmingham took the lead when full back Maxime Colin skipped past tackles from Myles Kenlock and Teddy Bishop to cross for Jutkiewicz to calmly slot home with his left foot from inside the six-yard box.
And the Blues striker was close to adding a second four minutes later when he just failed to get a toe to a cross from Che Adams following good build up by Jota.
Then a surging run forward by Ipswich full back Kenlock in the 16th minute saw him shoot just over the bar following neat interchange between Huddersfield loanee Collin Quaner.
Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski went down to his right to parry a shot from Jota round the post a minute later and the Birmingham winger was close to adding a second with half an hour played when his shot was cleared by the under pressure Ipswich defence.
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What went wrong for Ipswich?
When Mick McCarthy left his role as manager just over a year ago, there was a sense among Ipswich fans that a new dawn was approaching; one that would see them bring to an end 17 consecutive seasons in the second tier of English football. What they perhaps didn't expect was that fresh start coming in League One.
Having led Shrewsbury to the Checkatrade Trophy final in 2018, Paul Hurst was installed as McCarthy's successor, but he lasted until the end of October after a run of one win - a 3-2 triumph over Swansea - from 14 league games in charge. Two days later, former Norwich boss Paul Lambert was handed the reins, but he too has only been able to mastermind three victories.
The Tractor Boys are closing out the season in improved form, but there's been a distinct lack of quality in attack throughout the course of the campaign; they've failed to score more than two goals in any game aside from the Swansea win, while Freddie Sears - who hasn't played in two months is their top scorer with six.
But now there's a popular manager at the helm, key players, including Alan Judge, have signed new contracts and the football is showing sure signs of improvement. Relegation is, perhaps, a real chance to start afresh.
Town midfielder Alan Judge conceded a foul just outside the penalty area in the 37th minute but Jutkiewicz shot high and wide following the set piece with Kerim Mrabti.
But Judge's free kick from a similar position two minutes later fared better as the City keeper Lee Camp palmed the ball over the bar.
Ipswich half-time substitute Kayden Jackson made an immediate impact when, just after the restart, his perfect left-wing cross found Edwards who fired home from just inside the six-yard box.
Then a fine run down the right by Josh Emmanuel in the 48th minute led to him crossing to the far post only for Judge to hit the post and the ball was scrambled clear for a corner as the home side started to exert pressure on their opponents.
Jutkiewicz's diving header in the 78th minute following a corner just cleared Bialkowski's bar then Camp produced a great save from Judge nine minutes later to keep the scores level.
And at the final whistle the Ipswich players sunk to the ground knowing their fate but the Town fans' backing was not diminished as they sung out their support for the Tractor Boys.
Paul Lambert: "It was a game of two halves. Birmingham were better than us in the first half and we were better than them in the second half. But you're going to get that with young players at times. They are kids that have come through from academy football and right into the first team "They are going to learn on the job that's the only way they are going to learn.
"The majority have been thrown in and that's why I think there's a lot of good things to look forward to here but and all credit to them in the second half, we were excellent. The supporters have been unreal and I feel gutted for them, it's phenomenal and it's overwhelming, you see it at the end of the game, it's incredible the support. [Relegation is] gut-wrenching, it's horrible, it's like a blow. But we have great things to forward to."
Garry Monk: "We created enough chances to be in a really comfortable position and any level, especially in this league, if you don't take your chances you leave yourself open to that fightback.
"I said it in the build-up to this game one thing Ipswich are doing is they are fighting and we left ourselves open to that fight in the second half with the scoreline still only being 1-0 by not being clinical enough. That's the difference today, we weren't clinical enough."