Ipswich Town 3-0 Bristol Rovers: Lambert’s men begin season with impressive cup win
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town got their season off to an impressive start as they eased through to round two of the Carabao Cup with a 3-0 victory over Bristol Rovers.
Freddie Sears netted twice, either side of a Luke Chambers header, to secure the win, on an afternoon where the fruits of Town’s pre-season labour were on display.
As they have tried to this summer, the Blues moved the ball well throughout, looking to play through the thirds, attack from the flanks and link up with the lone striker to open up defences and create chances.
And that’s exactly what they did, with Sears’ two goals coming from good right-wing crosses, while Chambers’ header was a good one as he met a Judge corner.
Paul Lambert’s men had other chances too, as they threatened throughout and began the campaign in positive fashion.
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Lambert handed out two debuts from the start, with new signing Stephen Ward making his first appearance while striker Aaron Drinan made his first appearance in Blue, a full 32 months after signing for the club in January 2018.
Flynn Downes was one of an army of players not involved, having been given time to clear his head after putting in a transfer request amid interest from Crystal Palace, with Kane Vincent-Young (Achilles), James Norwood (hip), Cole Skuse (knee), Myles Kenlock (thigh), Kayden Jackson (groin) and Janoi Donacien all missing.
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In what was a strange atmosphere, inside an empty stadium, the Blues stepped out to begin their season in the most unusual of circumstances, but were soon into their stride.
Drinan had the first opening of the new season as he got in behind Max Ehmer to connect with a decent Woolfenden ball and fire at visiting goalkeeper Jordi van Stappershoef, before Ipswich penalty appeals were waved away after Chambers’ long ball into Nolan saw the midfielder hit the deck inside the box under pressure from Max Ehmer.
Both sides were looking to play, with the Blues having the better of it as they looked to get the ball into the feet of their more creative players, with Freddie Sears and then Alan Judge having chances.
Town were just about having the better of an even, watchable, contest before they took the lead with a goal born from the most unlikely of sources. Luke Woolfenden’s measured ball across his own box found Nsiala in space, with the big defender playing a superb defence-splitting ball to free Drinan, with the Irishman laying on an excellent cross which Sears slammed home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Town threatened again before the break, with a masterful Andre Dozzell passing taking out the entire Rovers defence to free Ward, who had his low shot blocked before Nolan’s effort was deflected over for a corner. From there, Judge’s delivery was perfect, Chambers’ run was just as good and his header hit the spot as the skipper found the back of the net to double the Ipswich lead.
Rovers introduced back Kenyan international Jonah Ayunga, signed this summer from non-league, with the forward’s physical presence causing Town a new problem in the second period, but the closest the visitors came was Mark Little’s volley flying wide after Ward had mis-judged a header.
Town were still moving the ball nicely around the pitch, stretching their opposition, with the next chance coming when Judge sent over a sublime cross from the right for Drinan to stab towards goal, only for van Stapperhoef to save.
The Blues’ third did soon come, though, with Teddy Bishop this time the man to deliver from the right with a superb ball which Sears collected, before delaying his short perfectly to clip around the out-stretched goalkeeper at the far post.
The game was won as Town began to introduce players from the bench, with Oli Hawkins and Corrie Ndaba making their debuts – the latter in place of skipper Chambers who left the game early with an apparent injury.
From there the remaining minutes were comfortable for Town, who will discover their opponents in the next round tomorrow afternoon.
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers (Ndaba 79), Woolfenden, Nsiala, Ward; Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop (Edwards, 79); Judge, Sears. Drinan (Hawkins, 70)
Subs: Cornell, Wilson, Huws, Lankester
Bristol Rovers: van Stappershoef, Little (Upson, 72), Leahy, Grant, Ehmer, Baldwin (Hare 67), Westbrooke, Mitchell-Lawson, Nicholson, Kilgour, Hargreaves (Ayunga, 46)
Subs: Andre-Jr, Harries, Kelly, Walker