FULL TIME: Ipswich Town enjoy fantastic 3-1 win over West Ham
Ipswich v West Ham: The Blues’ hoodoo over the Hammers has continued after a fantastic 3-1 victory at Portman Road to lift the spirits ahead of the new Championship season.
It might have been a friendly played out in front of just 7,682 fans, but those who were there were treated to an impressive showing from Town – coming just days after disappointing defeats to Luton and Southend.
A penalty from Michael Chopra – his fourth strike in pre-season – and a first from new centre-back Luke Chambers saw Paul Jewell’s men race into a 2-0 lead inside 19 minutes.
Matt Taylor pulled a goal back for West Ham as they improved after the interval, but Jason Scotland’s lovely curling finish in the 84th minute ensured Town’s first-team squad secured only their second pre-season win.
From the off, the Blues set about the Premier League newcomers playing with pace and purpose – after last season doing the double over them.
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As early as the fourth minute, Chopra almost scored, latching onto to Carlos Edwards’ dangerous cross but flicking a first-time effort just wide of the near post.
Moments later, Edwards again caused danger and Massimo Luongo’s goalbound shot from the edge of the area was blocked by a desperate lunge from James Collins, making his second debut for the Hammers.
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On 15 minutes, the home side took the lead. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, enjoying his best game of a disappointing pre-season, slid the ball across to Lee Martin who tumbled over Gary O’Neil’s tackle.
Chopra, who missed his last spot-kick, at Leicester last season, confidently sent Jussi Jaaskelainen the wrong way.
West Ham, who kick off their return to the Premier League in two weeks, looked to respond and Town keeper Scott Loach did well to hold on to Daniel Potts’ free kick with Carlton Cole waiting to pounce.
But it was all Town and on 19 minutes, they doubled their lead when the hugely impressive Lee Martin floated over a free kick to the far post and Chambers did brilliantly to flick a header back across goal and beyond Jaaskelainen.
The game levelled out thereafter, but Town were certainly a match for their higher-league opponents, and Emmanuel-Thomas and Edwards both went close to end an impressive 45 minutes for Ipswich.
With the expected plethora of substitutions after the break, the second 45 minutes was never going to match the first.
Chances were at a premium with West Ham improving but still largely untroubling Loach’s goal.
The Town keeper, playing his first match at his beloved Portman Road, gathered Ricardo Vaz Te’s 20-yard shot at the second attempt before Josh Carson, playing his best pre-season match, failed to trouble the away goal from an equal distance.
In the 73rd minute, the Hammers pulled a goal back out of nothing, Matt Taylor shooting under Chambers from 25 yards and squeezing his shot beyond Loach off the post.
And the visitors had a good chance to equalise when Taylor met Guy Demel’s cross but headed across goal when he should have at least made Loach work.
The Hammers were made to pay in the 84th minute when subs Ronan Murray and Jason Scotland combined to devastating effect.
Murray slid the ball to his strike partner on the left wing and Scotland cut inside before curling a lovely precise shot into the far corner.
Looking to impress Jewell after his loan spell with Swindon last year, Murray was again the provider when he played in Carson whose powerful drive just missed the near post as the Blues ended with aplomb.
But Loach got his chance to make a morale-boosting save in injury time when Damien Delaney’s mistake allowed Vaz Te to get a shot at in goal but the keeper was equal to it with a fine diving save.