Accrington Stanley 1-2 Ipswich Town: Blues turn it around in front of new boss Cook
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Paul Cook was watching on as Ipswich Town came back from a goal down to win at Accrington.
The new boss was appointed just a few hours before kick-off but was sat in the stands, with Matt Gill leading from the bench as James Wilson and James Norwood put the Blues on top after Dion Charles’ early opener.
The Blues were aided by Seamus Conneely’s early red card, though Norwood missed the resulting penalty, but it ultimately mattered little as the Blues turned the game round in front of their new boss.
Town worked hard throughout and created plenty of chances in the first-half before opportunities dried up after the interval, but they ultimately did enough to win despite looking a little nervy during the second period.
Cook was at the team hotel earlier in the day but stayed away from the dressing room at the Wham Stadium, though he couldn’t help himself during the game as he constantly bellowed encouragement and advice from his seat alongside new first-team coach Gary Roberts and general manager Lee O’Neill.
The victory moves Town above Stanley on goal difference, though they still sit two points off the final play-off place. Heading into Cook’s game in charge, at Gillingham on Saturday, Town sit nine points behind second-placed Hull with three games in hand.
Gill named kept the same XI which had started the last four games, winning two and drawing one, with the Blues starting quickly with a flowing move down the left flank, which ended with Myles Kenlock crossing, Troy Parrott miskicking and James Norwood turning a shot wide from inside the box as the Town striker failed to make a clean contact.
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But the good start soon fizzled out as the Blues fell behind, with Paul Smyth’s delivery from the right spilled by Tomas Holy, allowing Dion Charles to turn his 15th-goal of the season into the net.
Town did their best to battle back into the game but it took 10 minutes to prise their first opening, which came from the penalty spot. Troy Parrott won it as he touched a Norwood knock-down into the path of Troy Parrott, who hit the turf under a challenge from Seamus Conneely which earned the Accrington defender a straight red card.
Norwood missed from 12 yards, with his kick far too central as goalkeeper Nathan Baxter saved, before the Stanley stopper denied the Town striker again a few minutes later as he superbly tipped a shot round the post.
Play was stopped for several minutes when Baxter went down injured following a collision with Parrott, with the Chelsea loanee forced to come off a few minutes after that as Toby Savin entered the game.
The youngster looked shaky early on and that was soon punished, when he fumbled an Andre Dozzell corner into the path of Wilson who was able to stab home his first Ipswich goal.
Norwood missed another chance before narrowly missing a slide at the far post Myles Kenlock spent a ball flashing through the box. But his goal finally came.
Dozzell’s sublime delivery made it, as Norwood sent a stunning header into the top corner, six minutes into added time, to notch his third goal in as many games.
Cook stayed away from the Town dressing room at the break but was increasingly vocal after it, congratulating Holy on an excellent save from Michael Nottingham and berating Stanley’s Mark Hughes for a pathetic dive inside the box.
Gill introduced Flynn Downes and Gwion Edwards at a time when Town looked comfortable, though you still felt the Blues needed a third goal to truly kill this game off.
But it wasn’t required as the Blues left the Wham Stadium with three points.
Accrington Stanley: Baxter (Savin, 27), Nottingham, Hughes, Butcher, Burgess, Barclay (Morgan, 46), Smyth (Uwakwe 90), Conneely, Pritchard (McConville 59), Bishop, Charles
Subs: Russell, Rodgers, Phillips
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Nsiala, Wilson, Kenlock; Dozzell (Harrop, 82), Bishop (Downes, 70); Judge, Bennetts (Edwards, 70); Parrott (Drinan, 87), Norwood (Sears, 87)
Subs: Cornell, Ward