Ipswich Town 1-1 Lincoln City: Wilson earns Blues a point in Cook's first home game
- Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com
James Wilson’s second goal in three games rescued a point for Ipswich Town in Paul Cook’s first home game in charge.
Following defeat at Gillingham in the new boss’s opening match, the Blues were looking to make a mark against a Lincoln side in the thick of the promotion battle, but needed the Welsh defender to level matters midway through the second half, just as he did in the win at Accrington a week ago.
The Imps had led after Morgan Rogers fired in from range on 29 minutes, leaving Tomas Holy standing, but after the visitors had dominated long spells and the Blues struggled to raise their game, Town found new energy and eventually an equaliser.
The new boss was vocal throughout this game but, while there were some bright spots showing he is making his mark on this Ipswich side, in terms of energy, bravery and a desire to play on the front foot, they lacked a goal threat for long spells of it.
Cook’s men weren’t able to push on for a winner, though the point moves them to within a point of sixth-placed Portsmouth at the time of writing, with Pompey currently losing to Sunderland, heading into Saturday’s home clash with Plymouth.
There is plenty for Cook and Town to work on in the coming days but, in the scheme of the League One promotion race, this should be viewed as a decent point.
Cook made three changes to the side which lost at Gillingham on Saturday, keeping the back five intact but making changes to both the centre of his midfield and his attacking unit.
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Flynn Downes came into the side alongside Andre Dozzell in midfield, replacing Troy Parrott, while Jack Lankester and Gwion Edwards took Josh Harrop and Keanan Bennetts’ positions on the wings.
The visitors names Brennan Johnson, son of former Town striker David, in their starting XI along with former Ipswich loanee Tayo Edun, who featured briefly under Paul Hurst’s management.
But it was Rogers, the in-form Manchester City loanee who Paul Lambert looked at prior to the January window, who had the first opening of the game as he fired a shot wide from outside the box after former Colchester left-back Cohen Bramall had steamed past Luke Chambers to cross.
Cook called for his side to settle, which they quickly did, with the Ipswich players clearly enjoying themselves as they popped the ball around and looked to attack down the right flank to shouts of ‘go on son’ from their new boss.
Chambers needed to be alert to block Rogers’ shot from inside the box, before a real danger moment came and just about went when TJ Eyoma’s dangerous ball was sliced onto his own post by Toto Nsiala, with the Town defender then perfectly placed to block James Jones’ follow up inside his own six-yard box.
Lincoln were building pressure and a goal was coming. It soon did.
It came from the boot of Rogers, a young man with a growing reputation, as he took the ball down on his chest before being given time and space to stroll deep into Ipswich territory and first past a static Holy from more than 25 yards. The Town goalkeeper was left standing by a ball which flicked off the back of defender Wilson.
Town’s early joy had drained away, with the Blues struggling to get their foot on the ball in opposition territory, though one dangerous Dozzell free-kick so nearly created an equaliser as the combination of Nsiala and James Norwood arrived at the back post to turn wide.
Dozzell had a free-kick saved by Alex Palmer before the break, with the Blues heading to the dressing room behind, with Cook urging his side on during the first 10 minutes of the second period. .
The lack of connect with Norwood was an issue for an Ipswich side who were losing personal battles across the pitch, before Cook introduced Troy Parrott, Keanan Bennetts and Alan Judge from the bench to try and breath some life into a contest which was getting away from them.
Breath life it did as the Blues soon found themselves level with the goal once again coming from a set piece. Dozzell took it, clipping the ball into the box for Chambers to win well at the back post, allowing Wilson to stoop and inject real power into the ball as he headed back across the goalkeeper and into the corner.
Town played with new confidence but nearly slipped behind again as Nsiala pondered on the ball and was robbed by Callum Morton, before Holy bailed him out with a good save once Johnson had take the loose ball on to shoot.
The hosts huffed and puffed throughout the closing stages but the winner didn’t come, as they had to settle for a draw.