Ipswich Town 2-1 Bristol Rovers: Blues make hard work of Gas after lightning start

Town players celebrate with Alan Judge after he had scored Towns second, to take them 2-0 up against

Town players celebrate with Alan Judge after he had scored Towns second, to take them 2-0 up against Bristol Rovers. - Credit: www.stephenwaller.com

Two goals inside the opening 11 minutes were ultimately enough for Ipswich Town as they edged past Bristol Rovers at Portman Road. 

A Luke Leahy own goal and Alan Judge’s strike looked like they were setting Paul Cook’s men on their way to a comfortable success over relegation-threatened Rovers, but they ultimately made hard work of the contest before ultimately hanging on to secure three points.  

Luke McCormick pulled one back for the Gas as a frenetic opening 20 minutes produced his third goal, sending the Blues into their shells as the visitors enjoyed the better of what was left of the opening period. 

Cook had switched his usual formation in favour of a 3-5-2 system, which saw James Norwood and Kayden Jackson paired in attack, but neither striker was able to influence the game anywhere near enough as the Blues struggled to threaten the Rovers goal following their early blitz.

Alan Judge celebrates after scoring Towns second goal to take them 2-0 up against Bristol Rovers.

Alan Judge celebrates after scoring Towns second goal to take them 2-0 up against Bristol Rovers. - Credit: www.stephenwaller.com

Both had departed by the 66th minute, during a second half which lacked quality for long periods. 

Rovers maintained a threat but the Blues were able to secure three points which move them up to ninth in the League One table, two points off the top six. 

Cook made two personnel changes to the side which looked toothless in their 0-0 draw at Wigan a week ago, with Luke Woolfenden coming in for Kane Vincent-Young and Kayden Jackson replacing Freddie Sears. 

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But most notable was the switch in system, as the Town boss moved away from his tried-and-tested 4-2-3-1 formation and returned to a wing-back system which has previously brought the Blues some semblance of success under Paul Lambert. 

That saw Woolfenden come into the back three alongside Toto Nsiala and Luke Chambers, who was deployed on the left, with Edwards and Ward charged with patrolling their flanks. 

Alan Judge celebrates after scoring Towns second goal to take them 2-0 up against Bristol Rovers.

Alan Judge celebrates after scoring Towns second goal to take them 2-0 up against Bristol Rovers. - Credit: www.stephenwaller.com

The system partnered James Norwood and Jackson in attack, with the latter involved immediately as he battled for a ball inside the box which fell loose, with David Tutonda slamming a clearance into Edwards, with the ball then sliced up into the air by Gas skipper Luke Leahy before the ball dropped into the net off the inside of the post. It went down as an own goal, though Edwards certainly claimed it. 

The Blues were ahead inside a minute in the scrappiest of fashions but it mattered little, with the advantage soon becoming two as Bishop produced some magic down the right to cross dangerously, before Dozzell sliced his shot back into danger as the ball fell perfectly for Judge to slam home.  

Cook’s men looked comfortable and were playing with confidence before they saw their lead reduced on 18 minutes, as Andre Dozzell turned into trouble while trying to play from the back, as Jonah Ayunga stole possession and supplied Luke McCormick with the opportunity to chip keeper Tomas Holy.  

The Czech keeper was soon in the referee’s notebook after a charge from his line saw him clatter Ayunga on the edge of the box, with the Rovers players wanting red, during a period where the Blues looked a little rattled after seeing their lead halved. 

Town manager Paul Cook, animated on the touchline.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: www.stephenwaller.com

McCormick was a constant threat, firing over and then wide as he popped up in dangerous positions on the edge of the box, with the Blues perhaps fortunate to make it in ahead at the break.  

Cook brought Aaron Drinan into the contest at half-time in place of Norwood, with the Irishman soon involved in the contest as he battled away alongside Jackson, having a shot deflected wide a few minutes after Edwards saw a driven effort cleared off the line by Jack Baldwin.  

Former Town midfielder Ed Upson fired over as the visitors continued to maintain a threat, before Troy Parrott was introduced in place of Jackson just after the hour mark. 

It gave Town more of a physical presence in attack but the closest the Blues came to a goal from there was a Chambers flicked header which landed on the roof of the Rovers net. 

The visitors continued to push, with Ayunga evading Nsiala and threatening the Town goal, but the hosts ultimately held out to secure three points. 

Next up is a trip to Rochdale on Monday. 

Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Ward; Bishop (Harrop 88), Dozzell, Judge (Dobra, 90), Edwards, Jackson (Parrott, 66), Norwood (Drinan, 46)

Subs: Cornell, McGuinness, Sears

Bristol Rovers: Jaakola; Leahy, Williams, Baldwin, Tutonda (Westbrooke, 59), Martinez, Upson (Hare, 90), McCormick, Walker (Oztumer, 72), Hanlan, Ayunga (Barrett, 90)

Subs: Day, Little ,Daly

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