Exeter City 2-1 Ipswich Town: Blues’ Wembley hopes ended as old boy Martin dumps Lambert’s men out with late winner
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town’s EFL Trophy journey is over after old boy Lee Martin scored deep into stoppage time to dump his former club out of the competition.
Ipswich Town's EFL Trophy journey is over after old boy Lee Martin scored deep into stoppage time to dump his former club out of the competition.
The game had been heading to penalties prior to Martin's late goal, after Will Keane's good finish had cancelled out Nicky Ajose's scrambled opener.
But the Blues couldn't make it that far as Martin won it for the hosts, with Paul Lambert's men now left with just League One to concentrate on between now and the end of the season.
The defeat extends the Blues' winless run in all competitions to 12 games and came on an afternoon where the visitors stepped things up a gear after the break but were unable to add to Keane's goal when they were on top.
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The real bright spot was Teddy Bishop, who was by far the best player on the field in what was his first start since the end of last season due to a knee injury, with the midfielder producing a string of exciting moments as his dribbling ability looked to unlock the home backline.
But it wasn't enough as the Suffolk side fell to defeat once again.
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They return to League One action at home to Accrington Stanley next weekend.
Lambert made eight changes to his side for the game, with Gwion Edwards, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden the only three players retained from the New Year's Day draw at Wycombe.
The side put out by the Scot was packed with experienced performers, though, including Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop who were making their first starts following long-term injuries.
Exeter made nine changes to their side, with the promotion-chasers clearly prioritising their League Two campaign after rising to second in the table on the back of a 14-game unbeaten run.
Tomas Holy was the first goalkeeper forced into action, with the Czech stopper needing to get down low to stop Joel Randall's effort after the winger had stepped past Gwion Edwards.
The home pressure kept coming, with Ajose chipping over the bar when he latched onto Ben Seymour's flick-on, before captain Jake Taylor latched onto a loose ball in the Ipswich defensive third and fired over the top of Holy's goal.
Ipswich were beginning to work their way into the game, with the running of Bishop and pace down the right flank their most likely source of joy. It was there Gwion Edwards won a corner, which was worked short for Dozzell to cross and Nsiala to head into the side-netting, before further attempts to spring Bishop and Sears away came to nothing.
Ipswich's best spell of pressure during the first half saw Keane's run end with the striker's cross deflected onto the post, before he missed the only clear-cut chance of the period when he headed wide with the goal at his mercy after Dozzell's shot was deflected up into his path.
The Blues were punished before the break when a ball over from the Exeter right evaded Nsiala, who had been lost by Ajose who turned the ball into the net off a combination of Holy and the post after the striker had been given an acre of space.
It was a shock to the system and led to real questions in the stand at the break, but the Blues looked to answer many of them in the minutes after the interval.
Bishop continued to be at the heart of everything the Blues did, even if he should have had a shot himself when he squared for Sears, but the visitors did soon have their equaliser.
It came following an excellent piece of work from Keane as he chested the ball down, exchanged a one-two with Sears and then carefully placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Sears had a shot saved by Maxted but was replaced by Kayden Jackson just after the hour mark, with substitute Kayden Jackson firing into the side-netting following Myles Kenlock's good ball just a few minutes after entering the contest.
The game looked destined for penalties before Martin intervened, ending all hope of a trip to Wembley in the competition.
Exeter City: Maxted, Richardson, Dyer, Warren (Dean, 46), Hartridge; Taylor, Atanaga, Jay, Randall (Martin 77), Ajose, Seymour (Bowman, 70)
Subs: Arthur, Collins, Kite, Christene
Ipswich Town: Holy; Nsiala, Woolfenden, Wilson; Edwards (Norwood, 90+3), Skuse, Dozzell, Kenlock; Bishop (El Mizouni, 76); Keane, Sears (Jackson 64)
Subs: Norris, Garbutt, Judge, Dobra