Ipswich Town 2-2 Morecambe: Bonne secures dramatic point on opening day
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com
Local boy Macauley Bonne rescued a point with a last-gasp equaliser in Ipswich Town’s 2-2 draw with Morecambe.
A crowd of 21,037 packed inside the home of the Blues for one of the most hotly-anticipated games in Suffolk for many years, but it looked like it would be the side who were playing their first ever game at League One level who would take the points, rather than the one hotly-tipped for promotion.
Cole Stockton scored both Morecambe goals, with his strikes in either half sandwiching a superb Scott Fraser strike which raised the roof at Portman Road, with an equaliser which looked to be giving the Blues a platform to go on and win before they were pegged back again.
But, just as it looked like they were heading to defeat, Chantry’s Bonne popped up to stab the ball home to equalise on his Ipswich debut to earn a point.
Those in attendance would have hoped for more and, while there were some good moments, as many of Cook’s new signings showed flashes of what they have been signed to do, there were others where a newly-formed Town side looked disjointed at times.
The Town boss had called for patience from the stands at the start of a new era and he got it, with the big Portman Road crowd supporting their side throughout on a day when football was back in business following a season of Covid restrictions.
And their patience was rewarded with a dramatic leveller, on a special day many will remember for a long time.
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And, you know what? Town may not have won against a side they would have been expected to beat, but a local lad scoring on his debut, securing a point in the 90th minute, isn't a bad way for to put an exclamation mark on football's true return.
Cook named a starting XI including eight of his new signings, with two more on the bench, while George Edmundson missed out with a knock as Sone Aluko also watched from the stands having not been registered in time to play.
Vaclav Hladky started in goal behind a back four of Kane Vincent-Young, Luke Woolfenden, Toto Nsiala and Matt Penney, with midfield duo Lee Evans and Rekeem Harper in front of them.
Wes Burns was wide on the right, Scott Fraser on the left, with Conor Chaplin playing behind lone striker Joe Pigott.
A the loudest roar Portman Road has heard in many a year erupted, first as Paul Cook came out to take the claim of a real Ipswich crowd for the first time, before things cranked up another level as the two sides emerged from the tunnel.
There was a hush and then a perfectly-observed applause as all four sides of the famous old ground celebrated the life of one of its greatest sons, as former Ipswich striker Paul Mariner was remembered following his death last month.
The applause changed to roars again as the sides prepared for kick-off and a new era finally dawned.
Skipper Evans had the first shot in anger for the Blues as he lined up a 25-yard free-kick, which curled wide, as the Blues felt their way into the contest and began to work off Pigott, with the big striker’s first sight of goal in a Town shirt coming as he flicked a header onto the roof of the net as he connected cleverly with Fraser’s corner.
But, with Town in the ascendancy, Morecambe went off script and took the lead. Vincent-Young gave possession to the visitors, close to the Ipswich box and, from there, Stockton was able to meander his way past Woolfenden, Evans and then Penney before slotting cleverly past Hladky from a tight angle.
The home crowd responded with encouraging applause and Town set about their opponents again, with Nsiala heading wide from a corner, before Stockton fired another warning sign with an effort from the edge of the box which came off an Ipswich shirt for a corner.
Nsiala’s day ended early as he was replaced by Janoi Donacien before the break, after pulling up holding his hamstring, before Penney rifled a shot into the Morecambe side netting as Town pushed for a leveller before the break.
Town were behind but were still applauded off at the interval, and were soon level at the start of the second half when Pigott’s clever feet saw him tiptoe his way out of trouble and send off an excellent shot which Kyle Letheren had to tip wide.
Vincent-Young was next to go close, with his shot deflected wide by Liam Gibson’s stretching leg after Evans’ superb pass had allowed Penney to cross.
Then the pressure told.
Town were patient in their build-up down the left, working the ball into clever areas, which eventually allowed Fraser and Chaplin to get into a dangerous position inside the box, with the two combining for Fraser to sweep an excellent shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner. You would have heard the noise halfway down the A14.
The expectation from this point would be for Town, with the crowd at their backs, to go on and win but, once again, the visitors had not read the script.
Woolfenden won’t want to see Morecambe’s second again after he tried to step past his man, only to be robbed of possession, allowing Stockton a clean run at goal to turn into the net after skipping past Hladky and beating Donacien’s lunging tackle.
Cook’s response was to bring on Macauley Bonne and James Norwood for Pigott and Chaplin and, when it looked like all was lost, the two combined as Norwood flicked forward for his partner to step home the leveller.
Ipswich Town: Hladky; Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, Nsiala (Donacien, 38), Penney; Evans, Harper; Burns, Chaplin (Bonne, 78), Fraser; Pigott (Norwood, 78)
Subs: Holy, Dobra, El Mizouni, Barry
Morecambe: Letheren; Cooney, O'Conner, Delaney (Lavelle, 33), Gibson; Diagouraga, McCalmont, McDonald (Ayunga, 61), McLoughlin, Stockton, Gnahoua (Leigh, 74)
Subs: Andresson, Mellor, Jones, Phillips
Attendance: 21,037 (356 away)