GALLERY & MATCH REPORT: Leyton Orient 1 Ipswich Town 1
Ipswich Town ended their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient, Lloyd James’ stoppage-time penalty cancelling out Balint Bajner’s early strike.
Bajner – who signed a one-year deal on Thursday – was first to the rebound in the ninth minute, ramming home the loose ball after keeper Adam Legzdins had saved at the feet of Jay Tabb.
Just as he had done following his fine strike at Southend in midweek, the 6ft 5in Hungarian celebrated exuberantly in front of the 500 or so away fans at Brisbane Road having virtually pushed team-mate Elliott Hewitt out the way to claim the goal.
That opener had come against the run of play and the League One hosts – who lost in the play-off final last season – continued to play some attractive football. So when Alex Henshall fouled ex Town striker Kevin Lisbie in the box late on to concede a soft spot-kick, James converting, it meant the scoreline reflected the match.
Ipswich finish their pre-seaosn campaign unbeaten (four wins and two draws, two goals conceded), with their 13th successive season at Championship level starting with the televised visit of newly-relegated Fulham on Saturday (5.15pm).
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With Tommy Smith and Paul Anderson both left out of the 21-man squad through injury (there was no explanation for Paul Taylor’s absence), skipper Luke Chambers moved back to his preferred role of centre-back and Jonathan Parr (a versatile full-back who prefers left-back) at right-back.
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In front of him was Elliott Hewitt, the right-back handed the No.7 shirt and asked to do a job on the wing.
Tabb was preferred to both Cameron Stewart and Henshall on the left of midfield, while McCarthy went with a big front two of Bajner (6ft 5in) and Daryl Murphy (6ft 3in).
With the Brisbane Road playing surface in fine condition, unlike the long grass at Southend which made for a dire spectacle in midweek, both sides tried to pass the ball about in the opening period.
The League One hosts were particularly bright, with ex-Colchester United man James pulling the strings in the middle. The latter rattled the crossbar with a fine 25-yard free-kick in the eighth minute only for Town to counter and score on their first attack.
Ex-Derby keeper Adam Legzdins saved at the feet of Tabb, after he had weaved his way into the box, the loose ball rammed home by Bajner. The big Hungarian virtually shoved Hewitt out the way to claim the goal, wheeling away to celebrate enthusiastically with the away fans – just as he had done at Roots Hall on Tuesday night.
Orient continued to pass the ball about nicely and they had the better chances in the remainder of the half. First, David Mooney’s angled shot deflected off Christophe Berra, wrong-footed Dean Gerken and found the side-netting. Then, Gerken had to be quick off his line to keep out Romain Vincelot’s with his legs.
There was then a blow for the visitors when Parr limped off to be replaced by Cameron Stewart, the change seeing Hewitt move to right-back and Tabb switch to the right of midfield.
McCarthy brought on David McGoldrick on at half-time, the striker making his second appearance of the week having just returned to action from the cruciate knee injury he suffered back in mid-February.
It was a far less eventful second period, but that was a good thing for Ipswich as they took the sting out of the game.
McGoldrick produced Town’s two moment of quality, a fine outside of the boot pass putting Tyrone Mings clear down the left, his low cross hacked away by the home defence.
Then, late on, a trademark body swerve opened up space in the box for him to shoot. Legzdins did well to keep out that attempt and even better to spring back up and keep Henshall’s rebound effort out too.
Orient continued to try and play some sharp and inventive football when possible, with one slick move – involving Vincelot and Bradley Pritchard – ending with Mooney firing wide. It left McCarthy hollering at his players.
They finally got their reward in the dying moments when Henshall tripped Lisbie on the by-line, James sending Gerken the wrong way from the spot.
– Reaction to follow.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Parr (Stewart 38), Chambers, Berra, Mings; Hewitt, Hyam (Wordsworth 73), Skuse (Bru 82), Tabb (Henshall 82); Bajner (McGoldrick 46, Marriott 88), Murphy (Nouble 73).
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Crowe, Clarke.
LEYTON ORIENT (4-4-2): Legzdins; Omozusi, Buadry, Clarke (cpt), Lowry (Sawyer 62); Pritchard (Cox 69), Vincelot (Bartley 69), James, Batt (Batt 46); Mooney (Simpson 69), Dagnall (McAnuff 46).
Unused subs: Lee, Okoson, Nikolaou, Woods.
Attendance: 2,052 (595 away)