Bristol Rovers 0-2 Ipswich Town: Two late goals win it for Blues as Lambert’s men go top
Two goals in the final 10 minutes did the business for Ipswich Town as they came on strong to beat Bristol Rovers this afternoon.
In a game which appeared to be drifting towards a draw, Rovers captain Max Ehmer put through his own net with 10 minutes remaining as he tried to deal with a wicked cross from substitute Jack Lankester.
The Town players mobbed the young winger as he provided the game’s most inspirational moment, on what was his first competitive appearance since January 2019 having dealt with two nasty back injuries.
Then, to finally put the game to bed, Lankester’s neat lay-off into the path of Jon Nolan saw the midfielder glide past the Rovers defence and then put his shot into the far corner to complete the job.
Prior to that, Towns’ two best chances has fallen to Gwion Edwards, with the Welshman first having a left-footed shot saved before skipping past the goalkeeper a few minutes later as he collected Jon Nolan’s pass, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Mark Little.
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The Blues shaded things in terms of possession and arguably were the more threatening of the two sides, prior to their late burst to claim the points.
The victory leaves Town as one of just three sides with 100% records after two games, alongside Lincoln and Hull. The Blues top the table on goal difference ahead of Rochdale’s visit Portman Road next weekend.
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Lambert stuck with the majority of the side which beat Wigan in last weekend’s league opener, with the only changes to that side seeing James Norwood replace cruel injury victim Aaron Drinan, with Gwion Edwards coming into the side in place of Alan Judge, who has a knock.
Welsh winger Edwards started well, scampering clear on two longs runs, with the first ending with Jon Nolan firing over the top and the second seeing a cross claimed by the Rovers keeper ahead of a sliding Norwood.
The first big chance of the game fell to Brandon Hanlon, with the new Rovers striker bringing the ball down from the sky, despite appearing to be offside, with the Ipswich defenders stopping and allowing the home man to get off a tame shot which Tomas Holy saved well.
Both sides traded blows, with Ipswich having the better of possession and looking to attack down the flanks, with the right axis of Edwards and Luke Chambers particularly fruitful without having a good enough end product.
Alfie Kilgour stabbed wide as he evaded Stephen Ward at the back post following a free-kick, before Town tested Anssi Jaakkola for the first time as Freddie Sears curled a free-kick which the Finn pushed away to his right. Chambers bobbled the follow-up wide.
That’s as good as it got for the Blues, prior to the interval, with Town continuing to enjoy plenty of possession at the start of the second period without being able to create meaningful openings.
Norwood headed wide from a low Edwards cross, with the offside flag already up, before a Zain Westbrooke free-kick flashed across the box and agonisingly away from Hanlon and Max Ehmer, as the Blues were served a warning shot.
Edwards should really have put the visitors ahead as, after decent work from Sears and Nolan, the Welshman was able to cut inside onto his left foot and have time to set himself and shoot, but his effort was too close to the keeper.
The changes then came, with Lankester, Flynn Downes and Ollie Hawkins all introduced, with Town turning up the heat a little and so nearly taking the lead, only for Edwards to skip round the goalkeeper and then see his shot cleared off the line by Mark Little.
Then, the breakthrough. The source was the left foot of Lankester, who cut inside and whipped in the most teasing of balls, which Ehmer couldn’t resist throwing himself towards, only to turn it into his own net.
Town were comfortable and were soon home and dry, with Lankester finding Nolan and the former Shrewsbury man doing the rest to finish.