Ipswich Town beat Coventry City 2-1 at Portman Road in a Championship match yesterday afternoon. Stuart Watson reflects on the action.

East Anglian Daily Times: George Hirst celebrates after giving Ipswich Town an early lead against Coventry City.George Hirst celebrates after giving Ipswich Town an early lead against Coventry City. (Image: Steve Waller)


Wes Burns will take all the headlines in this game - and rightly so - but I'll kick off this piece with some George Hirst appreciation.

Week-after-week we see him tirelessly press and battle defenders, run off the last shoulder and make space for Town's supporting cast of forward players. 

On Wednesday night, it was his big leap and cushioned headed knock down that set up Conor Chaplin for Town's fifth minute opener against Millwall. That was his fifth assist of the season.

Generous George then gave the Blues an early lead himself in this one, racing onto Nathan Broadhead's defence-splitting pass and coolly side-footing home. That was his fifth goal of the season.

It's a reminder of the 24-year-old's all-round qualities.

"There are not many strikers who are 6ft 3in tall who can run behind the backline in the way that George can," said McKenna.

"The role that he does leading the line for us, it’s a unique balance. I don't even need to tell him anymore that he's not just judged on goals. He feels the appreciation from the staff, team-mates and the supporters."

East Anglian Daily Times: Wes Burns' outrageous outside of the boot finish against Coventry will be talked about for a long time to come.Wes Burns' outrageous outside of the boot finish against Coventry will be talked about for a long time to come. (Image: Steve Waller)


This will forever be remembered as the Wes Burns wonder goal game.

As half-time approached, the Welshman cut inside from the right and bent an outrageous outside of the boot finish into the far top corner from the edge of the box. A shot that started outside the frame of the goal before swerving inside the post. Roberto Carlos eat your heart out.

That was the 199th goal scored during Kieran McKenna's near two-year reign and the Blues boss ranked it as his favourite.

That's saying something when you think back to Hirst streaking away to score at Barnsley on the way to promotion, Jack Taylor's long-range strikes against Wolves and Swansea, plus the superb team goals finished off by Burns and Massimo Luongo against Hull and Millwall respectively. There's probably a few more iconic moments you could throw in the mix too.

The Blues boss' reasoning for this topping them all is that it contained both team and individual brilliance. The move started with the ball at keeper Vaclav Hladky's feet, the press was baited and then played around before Conor Chaplin and Leif Davis both switched the play expertly to find the spare man. A total of 20 touches from seven players saw Ipswich go from their own goalline to scoring in the space of 30 seconds. *Chef's kiss*. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Matty Godden's penalty hits the bar for Coventry City.Matty Godden's penalty hits the bar for Coventry City. (Image: Steve Waller)


Coventry, it shouldn't be forgotten, are a team that came within a kick of reaching the Premier League last season.

Losing star men Viktor Gyokeres and Gustavo Hamer off the back of that was a major blow, but long-serving boss Mark Robins has started to get a bit of a tune out of his new-look team over recent weeks.

The Sky Blues, dubbed 'one of the best counter-attacking teams in the division' by McKenna, came into this game off the back of two wins and an extra 24 hours' recovery time.

We shouldn't, therefore, get too down on the second half of this match.

Ipswich's possession game was purposefully slower and less direct. It may not have provided much excitement on a freezing cold afternoon, but there was no need to risk conceding the game's crucial third goal to a team that can hit you on the break. 

Haji Wright had a headed finish disallowed for the visitors in the first half, while Matty Godden's penalty cannoned back off the underside of the bar midway in the 73rd minute after Harry Clarke was adjudged to have tripped Tatsuhiro Sakamoto in the box. How would Town and a bumper home crowd have reacted if that had gone in? Thankfully we didn't have to find out.

Ipswich were good value for the three points, no doubt about it, but Coventry probably did deserve a consolation goal. They got one when Ellis Simms crashed into Brandon Williams to force an own goal deep into stoppage-time. 

"It's a foul, it's 90+6 when there's meant to be five minutes of added time and we scored for them after giving up very few chances from open play," said McKenna, just stopping short of a Catherine Tate 'am I bovvered?'

He's right, not keeping a first clean sheet since the 1-0 win at Bristol City on October 25 shouldn't take any of the gloss off this win.

East Anglian Daily Times: Massimo Luongo holds his head in frustration after receiving the yellow card that will see him banned at former club Middlesbrough next weekend.Massimo Luongo holds his head in frustration after receiving the yellow card that will see him banned at former club Middlesbrough next weekend. (Image: Steve Waller)


More frustrating than the late goal against was seeing Massimo Luongo and Brandon Williams both pick up their fifth league bookings of the season. Both will now serve a one-game suspension at Middlesbrough next weekend.

Luongo's lunging tackle in the first half was an attempt to stop a counter-attack through the middle of the pitch. He might even have got a bit of the ball, so I've got no problems with that one. 

The Australian's head in hands reaction to that yellow tells you how gutted he is to be missing an opportunity to prove a point to his previous employers (who let him join Ipswich for free after not a single start).

Williams' foul in the 89th minute was just plain daft though. The Manchester United loanee, who had only come on 12 minutes earlier, really didn't need to go to ground the way he did with the situation under control out wide.

You can't even say it was a tactical suspension ahead of some big festive fixtures either because Saturday was the cut-off point for five-booking bans. Silly boy. The good news is that Clarke has now had two really good games at right-back.

Burns, who also went into the game on four yellows, can now breath a little easier.

Meanwhile, Sam Morsy remains two bookings away from reaching 10 and being handed a two-game ban. He has to reach game 37 for that slate to be wiped clean. That's highly unlikely, yes, but remember what happened last season. The Blues skipper received his eighth league booking of the campaign in game 20 and managed to pick up just one more in the subsequent 18 to successfully walk the disciplinary tightrope.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieran McKenna's celebrations were animated following his side's 2-1 home win against Coventry City.Kieran McKenna's celebrations were animated following his side's 2-1 home win against Coventry City. (Image: Steve Waller)


That's nine home league wins from 10 since promotion. Amazing. I hope the slightly flat second half atmosphere inside a packed out Portman Road was more to do with the freezing conditions rather than any form of growing complacency about how special this group is.  

Wins for Leicester, Leeds and Southampton means it's as you were at the top of the Championship table. A trio of teams just down from the Premier League just can't seem to shake off one that's just stepped up from League One. Second-place Ipswich have no right to be in that sandwich really.

What shouldn't go unnoticed - and, truthfully, what I'm more focussed on - is that Ipswich have now opened up a 17-point cushion over seventh-place Blackburn. Whisper it quietly, but a top-six finish is looking increasingly likely now.

Is it arrogant or tempting fate to say that? I don't think so. I just can't see anyone currently outside the play-off places bettering Ipswich's result at least six times (realistically more) in 27 games.