Ipswich Town won 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers yesterday. Stuart Watson reflects on the action.

East Anglian Daily Times: Conor Chaplin has now been involved in 20 Ipswich goals this season (13G, 7A).Conor Chaplin has now been involved in 20 Ipswich goals this season (13G, 7A). (Image: Pagepix)


Conor Chaplin, having recovered from the back strain which kept him out of the 6-0 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday, started and finished the goal that ultimately won this game.

He rode a tackle in a deep area, drove forwards, played a sumptuous outside of the boot pass out to the left and then carried on his run to drill a first-time shot into the bottom corner. Yes, goalkeeper Aynsley Pears should do better, but take nothing away from the incisive build-up.

Thirteen goals for the season edges Chaplin back in front of Nathan Broadhead in the Blues' topscorer race. Including the seven assists, it's 20 goals contributions from him for the campaign. Impressive.

East Anglian Daily Times: Leif Davis is held aloft by Conor Chaplin at the final whistle. The former has broken the record for Championship assists in a single season by a defender.Leif Davis is held aloft by Conor Chaplin at the final whistle. The former has broken the record for Championship assists in a single season by a defender. (Image: Pagepix)


No prizes for guessing who cut the ball back for Chaplin to score.

Leif Davis has now set up 15 goals this season. It means he's set a new record for Championship assists by a defender in a single season, beating the 14 produced by Kieran Trippier (Burnley, 13/14) and Barry Douglas (Wolves, 17/18).

It was revealed by manager Kieran McKenna after the game that the Geordie left-back had been touch and go to start after struggling with flu all week. He came off in the 70th minute having 'found it difficult to breath throughout the game'.

Meanwhile, striker Kieffer Moore battled away for more than an hour just three days on from his physically and emotionally sapping 120 minutes shift for Wales in a crucial EURO 2024 play-off.

That epitomises the 'running towards adversity' spirit in this squad.

East Anglian Daily Times: Scott Wharton heads the ball out of Vaclav Hladky's hands ahead of Andy Moran having a goal chalked off for Blackburn.Scott Wharton heads the ball out of Vaclav Hladky's hands ahead of Andy Moran having a goal chalked off for Blackburn. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)


Blackburn had three goals chalked off in this game. Two were controversial.

Ben Chrisene latched onto a pass into the left channel and lobbed Vaclav Hladky in the 27th minute, George Edmundson unable to keep the ball out. Replays suggested the offside flag was correctly raised.

It was a good home move that led to Blackburn having the ball in the back of the net in the 32rd minute. When Joe Rankin-Costello rammed home Tyrhys Dolan's cut-back, via the aid of an Edmundson touch, little seemed wrong. On second look, however, the offside Sammie Szmodics does jump close to keeper Hladky. Close enough to be considered interfering with play? That's up for debate. It's not impossible the linesman actually thought the final touch came off Szmodics. If that's the case, Town got away with one.

The third disallowed goal, in the 73rd minute, is also questionnable. Did Hladky have both hands on the ball before Scott Wharton got his head on it? Just about, I think. Keepers do get too much protection in those circumstances though.

Blackburn boss John Eustace claims the whistle only blew after Andy Moran's subsequent shot cannoned in off the underside of the bar. Town boss Kieran McKenna insists that wasn't the case.

It certainly raises a debate about whether officials used to having the back-up of VAR in the Premier League are losing the ability to make instinctive decisions with conviction.

Did Town cash in on some of the undoubted refereeing credit they've amassed over the season (Preston away, for example)? They do say these things even themselves out.

Aggrieved Rovers fan shouldn't forget that the officials failed to spot a blatant tug of Nathan Broadhead's shirt inside the box at 0-0 though. That was stonewall.

East Anglian Daily Times: George Edmundson congratulates keeper Vaclav Hladky after a big save.George Edmundson congratulates keeper Vaclav Hladky after a big save. (Image: PA)


As early as the 50th minute there were signs that Blackburn were getting on top. Home pressure then really started to ramp up around the hour mark. Ipswich just couldn't get their foot on the ball. 

The tone for a one-sided final half hour was set when Chaplin made a saving tackle on Chisene in the box and Hladky tipped a rising Szmodics shot over.

Moore understandably ran out of juice. Chaplin, starting his first game in almost three weeks and having taken a few kicks, also came off, as did Broadhead. It meant Town had a front four of Kayden Jackson, Omari Hutchinson, Jeremy Sarmiento and Ali Al-Hamadi. The latter three, as McKenna rightly pointed out afterwards, are all still pretty green in terms of senior football.

Blackburn are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table. They threw everything they had at Town in search of an equaliser. Ipswich, however, stood firm.

The biggest heart in mouth moment came when Hladky was charged down in the six-yard box by Szmodics. The Czech keeper did superbly to rectify his error with a brave block at feet.

Harry Clarke came on for Davis and gave it all he had. Sarmiento proved he can roll his sleeves up and defend. Luke Woolfenden got his head on everything.

McKenna, learning lessons from the stoppage-time collapse at Cardiff, introduced the jet-lagged Cameron Burgess at the death and he got his head on a cross into the box.

All-in-all, it was a well-earned clean sheet. This game joins Sunderland, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Bristol City, Middlesbrough, Watford, Swansea and Plymouth in the hard-fought away win list.

East Anglian Daily Times: Massimo Luongo celebrates a hard-fought win at Ewood Park. Massimo Luongo celebrates a hard-fought win at Ewood Park. (Image: Ross Halls)


If Carlsberg did Good Fridays...

Leicester City lost 1-0 at Bristol City in the lunchtime kick-off. The Foxes, with the threat of a points deduction for next season hanging in the air, have now taken just four points from their last six league games.

In a 3pm kick-off, Southampton conceded a 90th minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to Middlesbrough. They've dropped points in four of their last seven league games now.
Then, after Ipswich had done their job (that's eight wins from the last nine), Leeds went and drew 2-2 at Watford.

The Blues top the Championship table heading into Easter Monday. A play-off place is virtually guaranteed. Remarkably, five wins and a draw from the last seven would take the points tally to 100. A century of goals is not impossible either.

All this as a newly-promoted club that hasn't done anything wild in the transfer market. It really is pinch yourself stuff.

Up next... Southampton, at Portman Road, on Monday (5.30pm). Strap yourselves in and keep enjoying this crazy ride. No doubt there are plenty more twists and turns still to come.