Ipswich Town 4-1 Tranmere Rovers: Lambert’s men eventually cut loose to extend unbeaten start to 10
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town extended their unbeaten start to 10 League One games as the table-toppers saw off Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.
Paul Lambert's men were far from their best for much of this game, with the first-half especially seeing the hosts toil and struggle to establish themselves in Tranmere territory.
But they ultimately cut loose after the break, before which Luke Garbutt's stunning free-kick opener had been cancelled out by a scrappy Stefan Payne equaliser.
Kayden Jackson tapped home the second just after half-time before Jon Nolan's headed third put the hosts in the clear. Kane Vincent-Young's second goal in as many games was the icing on the cake, as he came inside and fired home from outside the box with his left foot.
The win ensures Town remain top of the table heading into next weekend's visit to Fleetwood, with Wycombe two points back in second.
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Lambert made three changes to the side which won at Gillingham last weekend, with James Norwood returning to face his former club and Nolan and Garbutt both coming back into the side as wing backs were deployed once again. Cole Skuse started in the middle of three central defenders, as he did at MK Dons.
The game got off to something of a slow start as the two sides felt each other out, with the Blues edging the early exchanges and having plenty of the ball in their own territory.
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Norwood was the first to take aim, having a rocket of a shot blocked by Sid Nelson before the former Tranmere man took a big barge in the back from old sparring partner Manny Monthe.
The Blues continued to keep possession, without being able to fashion any further openings before Flynn Downes did well to chest an Alan Judge cut-back forward before pushing his shot over the top of the crossbar.
The ball was in the Ipswich net following a decent spell of away pressure, after Ollie Banks' driven effort was blocked into the path of Neil Danns to finish, but Stefan Payne was adjudged to have handled in the build-up and it was disallowed.
The Blues were continuing to struggle to move the ball forward through midfield, prompting Lambert to instruct Skuse to step out of the back line and into midfield. The hosts were ahead within two minutes.
It came from the boot of Garbutt but was made by Judge as he looked to juggle the ball past Paul Mullin on the edge of the penalty area, with the Tranmere man protesting heavily after he was adjudged to have handled. Garbutt stepped up and struck a stunning ball into the top right corner to give the Blues the lead.
Portman Road rose to acclaim one of the sweetest strikes its seen in recent years, but the famous old ground was groaning just a few minutes later when Town's long run without conceding was finally broken.
It was an ugly way to miss out on a club-record clean-sheet run, too, as a horrible mistake saw Chambers miss-control a high ball out of the sky gave Tranmere possession high up the pitch before the ball was worked wide to Jake Caprice, whose low cross was misjudged by Wilson and Holy before Payne tapped home.
There were a few murmurs of discontent as the Blues headed back to their dressing room at the break but within minutes of the restart the hosts were back in front.
The second goal again involved a Garbutt free-kick as he ambitiously took aim from 35 yards after a foul by Payne, with the Everton loanee slipping as he struck the ball. But he still generated enough power to hit the target and force Davies into action, with the Tranmere keeper spilling the ball into the path of Jackson who gobbled up the rebound.
Ipswich tails were up but Tranmere still kept pushing, with Payne causing trouble in behind the Ipswich line and the Blues' best offensive work coming on the break. One such occasion saw Holy free Jackson, whose cross just evaded Judge, before the Irishman had a shot saved by Davies after being played in by Norwood. Downes but the rebound in the net, but the offside flag was up once again.
There was no denying Nolan as he kept pace with an incisive Ipswich breakaway as Jackson turned through the middle, twisted past his man and had a shot saved by Davies which looped up nicely for the midfielder to head home.
It was 3-1 and surely the points were all Ipswich's.
All that was missing was a goal for Norwood, who of course was facing his former club, with the striker's best chances coming with 10 minutes remaining as first his dinked effort was saved well by former team-mate Davies. Davies then kept him out again as an excellent header from deep was clawed over the top of the bar.
But he'll tell you that three points, rather than personal accolades, are all that matters and that's exactly what the Blues were able to secure this afternoon.
Ipswich Town: Holy; Vincent-Young, Chambers, Wilson, Garbutt, Skuse; Downes, Nolan, Judge (Rowe 74); Jackson, Norwood (Huws 87)
Subs: Norris, Woolfenden, Edwards, Dozzell, Georgiou
Tranmere Rovers: Davies; Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh; Potter (Hepburn-Murphy 80), Danns, Banks; Morris (Jennings 69); Mullin (Blackett-Taylor, 69), Payne
Subs: Pilling, Gilmour, Walker-Rice, Ponticelli.
Att: 19,785 (621 away fans)