Gallery: Town's pre-season kicks off with defeat

IPSWICH Town's pre-season campaign started with defeat on a rainy night in Ireland tonight.

Stuart Watson

IPSWICH Town's pre-season campaign started with defeat on a rainy night in Ireland tonight.

A confident second-half penalty from Connor Wickham - a last-minute call-up to the 17-man squad due to an injury to Kevin Lisbie yesterday - cancelled out a first-half Finn Harps header, but the youthful Irish outfit scored a superb breakaway goal to seal victory.

Roy Keane brought on all seven subs at the break as his players gained valuable fitness, while another bright spot was an assured midfield performance from Liam Trotter.

Ipswich travelled to Ireland with a 17-man squad, notable absentees being Pablo Counago (groin), Lisbie (calf) and new boy Lee Martin, the latter having been given time to acclimatise to Suffolk following his arrival on Monday.

Lisbie's injury had come late in the day and saw Wickham drafted in at the last minute, the teenager joining up with the squad at Stansted airport.

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Roy Keane will be taking his squad to Portugal for some warm weather training today - and the players will be looking forward to it after being pelted with bouts of torrential rain in a grey Donegal.

Ipswich - in their change strip of red - started with a 4-1-4-1 formation, which switched to a 4-3-3 in attack, with Jon Walters and Danny Haynes attacking down the right and left respectively.

Liam Trotter sat behind David Norris and Owen Garvan in centre midfield, Jon Stead led the line on his own, while Damien Delaney made his debut at left-back. Tommy Smith, Gareth McAuley, David Wright and Richard Wright made up the rest of the back five.

Town forced a couple of corners early on, but it was the hosts that went closest in the early stages when Gary Whoisley fired a free-kick just wide.

Ipswich had a half opening after 12 minutes when Finn Harps couldn't clear the ball from their own box, however, Danny Haynes couldn't quite control at the back post.

Their first real chance came after 20 minutes when Jon Stead arrived at the near post but could only guide David Wright's right-wing delivery across the face of goal.

Finn Harps took the lead a minute later when Ipswich's defence missed two chances to win the ball in the air.

Ian Rossiter crossed from the right, Fintan Bonner headed across goal and Shaun Houston rose highest to head home into the top right corner.

Town spurned a good chance to go level on the verge of half-time when Trotter - who passed the ball superbly in the opening period - split open the defence, however, Stead didn't connect well with his shot which was easily gathered by the keeper.

Keane brought on all six of his subs at the break - Trotter, Norris, Garvan, Smith and Delaney the men charged with lasting the full 90 minutes.

And the visitors almost found an equaliser immediately after the restart. Some quick feet by Garvan allowed Trotter to slide a through ball to David Norris - who took over the captain's armband from Gareth McAuley at the break - and he seemed to be taken out by the keeper, however the referee waved away protests.

Town were level after 57 minutes courtesy of a penalty from 16-year-old Connor Wickham. Defensive midfielder Veliche Shumulikoski clipped a beautiful ball into the box and the on rushing Trotter - who was now playing in a more advanced midfield role - was brought down by the keeper.

Wickham - playing as a lone striker - confidently smashed the resulting spot kick high into the net.

The hosts retook the lead after 66 minutes thanks to a classic counter attack. Garvan almost put his side in front when he smashed the crossbar from 25-yards out, but Finn Harps broke quickly from the resulting corner. Substitute Mark Brolly raced away down the left and scored via a deflection off Pim Balkestein, who had been sliding in to block the shot.

The match opened up as both sets of players tired. Alex Bruce came close with a long-range effort that the keeper clawed around a post, while at the other end Fintan Bonner forced Shane Supple into a smart save, while Wickham also made the keeper make a brave stop at his near post.

Finn Harps almost doubled their advantage after 81 minutes when Paddy Bonner crossed into the box, only for the ball to be inches too high for the unmarked Shaun McGowen.