Cambridge United 1-0 Ipswich Town: Lambert’s Blues end pre-season in defeat
Ipswich Town ended their pre-season programme with a 1-0 defeat at Cambridge United this afternoon.
Former Blue Paul Digby scored the only goal, after striker Paul Mullin’s shot came off the post, with returning forward James Norwood coming the closest to finding the net for Town, when his diving header came back off the post.
This was the striker’s first game since February, as he continues his recovery from a groin problem, while fellow striker Oli Hawkins also made his first appearance of the summer programme following his arrival from Portsmouth.
In truth, the Blues created little in the final third as they played more direct balls up to Hawkins in the opening period, before keeping the ball on the floor more in the second and looking to play through the thirds as they have throughout pre-season.
With a host of players, including Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Stephen Ward, Flynn Downes, Kane Vincent-Young, Teddy Bishop and Kayden Jackson watching from the stands, Lambert named another mixed side in pre-season action with a number of players getting a chance to impress.
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That included goalkeeper David Cornell, who played the majority of the game, James Wilson, returning from a calf injury to feature for the first time this summer, and strike duo Norwood and Hawkins, who played a half each.
Town’s competitive schedule begins a week today, when Bristol Rovers visit Portman Road for the first round of the Carabao Cup, before game with Arsenal U21 in the EFL Trophy (September 8) and the league opener against Wigan (September 13).
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Cambridge had the first opening of the afternoon as Harry Darling header over following a corner played into a crowded penalty area, before new striker Oli Hawkins’ first involvement saw the former Portsmouth man defend well inside his own box to head the ball to safety.
Town were struggling to create anything of note in the final third, with a few hopeful balls up for Hawkins, with Cambridge threatening again when Greg Taylor got round the back of the Ipswich defence to turn a free-kick wide.
More Cambridge pressure saw the home side work the ball nicely down the Town left, where Knibbs drove a ball across the box which evaded the Ipswich defence and, thankfully, Liam O’Neil as he flew in at the far post.
Former Norwich man Wes Hoolahan, so key to Lambert’s success at Carrow Road, was able to rob young Tommy Smith of possession before the break, creating a chance for Knibbs which was deflected wide, before the Blues once again cleared the set piece under pressure.
Town created an opening just before the break, as an excellent Jon Nolan pass threaded Jack Lankester away, before the youngster was crowded out as the first half came to an end.
Lambert made two changes at the break, bringing James Norwood and Corrie Ndaba on for Hawkins, and Janoi Donacien, with striker Norwood getting into the thick of the action early as he dived in at the near post to direct Jack Lankester’s corner onto the post.
Town were playing much better, at a higher tempo and with more purpose but were soon behind. Mullin blazed past Smith and struck the ball against David Cornell’s post, with former Blue Digby there to turn the ball home with ease.
Town began to make changes, with youngsters Idris El Mizouni and Armando Dobra entering the contest, with the latter weaving his way through traffic before laying off to Norwood, who wanted the ball played earlier before he was crowded out.
Town’s last opening of the afternoon saw Judge sting the palms of goalkeeper Dimi Mitov from range, as their pre-season schedule ended in defeat.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Darling (Simper 73), Taylor, Iredale (Dunk 62), Hoolahan (Knowles 61), Digby (Dickens 73), O’Neil (Trialist B, 61), Hannant (Neil 81), Mullin (Dallas 66), Knibbs (Ironside 66)
Ipswich Town: Cornell (Holy, 73); Donacien (Ndaba, 46), Woolfenden, Wilson, Smith; McGavin (Dobra, 64), Nolan (El Mizouni, 68), Huws; Judge, Lankester (Folami, 73), Hawkins (Norwood, 46)