FULL-TIME: Stevenson’s rocket guides Town to final-day victory

RYAN Stevenson scored a late contender for goal of the season as Ipswich Town gained a last-day 3-2 victory over relegated Doncaster Rovers.

Stevenson’s screamer from 30 yards added to Tommy Smith’s ninth minute header before Town were guilty of getting over-confident, allowing Fabien Robert to pull a goal back for Rovers before the break.

But Ipswich, who brought on both 16-year-old Byron Lawrence and fit-again Jimmy Bullard after the interval, made the points safe when Jason Scotland rolled a penalty in after the striker had been brought down.

Habib Beye pulled a goal back for Rovers in injury time but Town hung on for the points.

Town started the match well with Doncaster guilty of giving their visitors too much time on the ball.

Gary Woods tipped round an early shot from the bright Lee Martin before Ryan Stevenson’s long range shot was deflected wide.

But the breakthrough came from the subsequent corner with Tommy Smith rising highest to head home Martin’s corner on 10 minutes.

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It was almost two from very similar circumstances, Daryl Murphy this time meeting Martin’s set piece but hitting the underside of the bar with Michael Chopra unable to turn in the rebound.

Martin should have made it two shortly before the halfway mark but Woods saved his shot with his feet before the second duly arrived in the 29th minute.

And it was a beauty as Stevenson tried his luck from 30 yards, the ball cannoning off the underside of the bar and over the line – according to the flag of the assistant referee.

Perhaps guilty of being over-confident, Ipswich allowed their hosts back into the game and in the 34th minute, good work from Town target James Coppinger released Simon Gillett down the left whose low cross was turned in by Robert.

The Doncaster scorer thought he had equalised, only to have his header ruled out for offside, before Town suffered a massive scare when Martin clattered into left-back James Husband.

It appeared as if the Town attacker had slipped and collided heavily with the youngster and after a long delay, he was only shown a yellow card.

Ipswich ended the half as they started with Woods tipping Drury’s shot around the post to end an entertaining 45 minutes.

You couldn’t describe the second half in the same way as Ipswich were below-par and Doncaster often showing why they were already relegated.

But credit Rovers who came out of the blocks well and almost scored in the first minute when Beye headed Coppinger’s quickly-taken free-kick wide.

Hayter hit over from close range before at the other end, Martin’s shot went just wide before the game largely drifted with neither side impressing.

With Bullard and Scotland on, Town appeared to make the game safe when the striker was tripped by Beye in the area and the same player calmly side-footed the spot-kick down the centre of the goal.

This was the signal for some of the fantastic 1,266 Town fans to start a conga in the away end and Lawrence to become the second youngest ever Ipswich debutant,

The party was only soured slightly when Beye beat Sonko to the ball to fire under Arran Lee-Barrett deep in stoppage time.

TEAM NEWS

Ibrahima Sonko will play his last game for Ipswich Town while Lee Martin is back for Paul Jewell’s men at Doncaster Rovers this lunch-time.

The 12.30pm kick off will see Sonko start alongside Damien Delaney in the centre of defence with Tommy Smith moving to left-back in place of injured Aaron Cresswell.

Ryan Stevenson moves back into the centre of midfield with Grant Leadbitter leaving the club while Lee Martin will resume his position behind Michael Chopra upfront.

Youngsters Josh Carson, Jack Ainsley and Byron Lawrence, who is hoping to become Town’s second youngest ever debutant, are all on the bench alongside fit-again Jimmy Bullard.

TEAMS

Ipswich (4-2-3-1-): Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Sonko, Delaney, Smith; Drury, Stevenson; Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy; Chopra. Subs – Scotland, Bullard, Carson, Whight, Lawrence

Doncaster (4-1-4-1): Woods; O’Connor, Friend, Beye, Husband; Hird; Coppinger, Oster, Gillett, Robert; Hayter. Subs – Bennett, Bamogo, Woods, Sullivan, Dumbuya

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