FULL-TIME REPORT & GALLERY: Michael Chopra helps Ipswich Town to point against Helmond Sport

MICHAEL Chopra continued his fine form in the Netherlands but it was not enough as Ipswich Town started their pre-season programme with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Helmond Sport.

Paul Jewell opted for a youthful midfield with Luke Hyam, Josh Carson and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas all starting alongside 16-year-old Byron Lawrence who was trusted with the free role behind Michael Chopra.

There was also some intrigue on the bench thanks to a trio of triallists – former Hearts keeper Marian Kello and French duo Plasir Bahamboula and Solialio Bakayogo.

This was Helmond Sport’s fourth pre-season friendly and for most of the first half, it showed. Town were sloppy in possession and often second-best while the home side were incisive and deserved their lead given to them by their best player – diminutive playmaker Emrullah G�ven� in the 16th minute.

Michael Chopra blasted a shot against the crossbar and Lawrence placed a shot against the near post in a matter of minutes but this clouded the true story of the opening 45 minutes.

Town improved at the break and half-time sub Jimmy Bullard was encouragingly at the centre of things.

But it was Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, enduring a more frustrating time, that almost turned provider on 55 minutes when he released Chopra whose first-time shot was turned onto the post by Helmond keeper Wouter van der Steen.

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The Blues had hit the woodwork on three occasions, Chopra twice, but last season’s top scorer finally got his goal shortly before the hour mark.

Carson poked the ball forward and Chopra broke the offside trap to smash the ball under van der Steen to continue his impressive form in Dutch friendlies – now three goals in three matches.

Despite a plethora of subs, including all three triallists in the second half, Town improved as the game wore on and Bullard twice should have given them the lead, but disappointingly fired good chances over.

- For full report and photos from the first match of Town’s tour, plus breaking transfer news, see tomorrow’s Ipswich Star and EADT