Ipswich Town 2-0 Wigan Athletic: Blues begin campaign with win after Bishop and Edwards strikes
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town got their League One campaign up and running with three points as a goal in either half saw off crisis club Wigan.
Teddy Bishop netted his first goal in nearly six years to give the Blues an early lead and, after Ipswich had survived a number of near misses and threatened regularly themselves, substitute Gwion Edwards was on hand to fire home the goal which ultimately settled matters.
On balance it’s a result Ipswich deserved but, for spells of the game following Bishop’s opener, you were left fearing there could be an all-too-familiar sting in the tail, before Edwards killed off the visitors.
Town hit the woodwork twice, through Bishop and then striker Aaron Drinan, while former Blue Joe Garner rattled the Ipswich crossbar with an excellent free-kick which left goalkeeper Tomas Holy rooted to the spot.
Set-pieces looked the most likely Wigan threat, with Emeka Obi missing the target twice when given far too much time and space by the Ipswich backline, but the Blues ultimately left this game with their clean-sheet intact.
There were plenty of promising passages of play as the Blues showcased the brand of possession football they’ve been working in during pre-season, although things became a little more frantic after the break once James Norwood had replaced the previously-controlled Drinan at the interval.
But a win’s a win and Lambert will be delighted to have begun the strangest of games with three points, inside an empty Portman Road.
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The Town boss was forced into a change from the expected line-up, with Luke Woolfenden suffering an injury in training and James Wilson taking his place in the centre of the Town defence.
There was once again no Flynn Downes, as the fall-out from his transfer request continues, while the likes of Kane Vincent-Young, Kayden Jackson and Jack Lankester joined Woolfenden in the stands as the Blues got their league campaign off and running.
Wigan, who have seen their side torn apart during their time in administration following relegation, fielded a host of young players but did still have a number of senior faces available to them, most notably former Ipswich striker Joe Garner, who caused trouble at an early Wigan corner which was ultimately headed wide by Emeka Obi.
After a couple of decent passing moves, Town made their first chance of the afternoon well-and-truly count as, following a quick free-kick from Stephen Ward, Freddie Sears was able to cross for Bishop to head home the rarest of goals, nearly six years after his first and previously only strike at Bournemouth in November 2014.
Ipswich were ahead but were soon caught napping again, as an unmarked Obi again headed over the top, before Drinan flashed a header across goal and then clipped the top of the bar with an effort a few seconds later, as the Blues threatened from a set-piece of their own.
The Blues’ attacking intent remained, with Chambers not able to get enough on a header as he made the box to meet a Ward cross, before the skipper started a good attacking move which saw Nolan drive into the box, use Drinan to lay-off to Bishop and the midfielder then rattle a shot off the post as Jamie Jones made an excellent save to turn it into the woodwork.
Every good Ipswich spell of possession was supplement by a reminder of Wigan’s threat, with former Blue Garner coming so close to levelling the contest as, with his back to goal, he angled a magnificent overhead kick against the crossbar.
Sears was the next to threaten, seeing his shot saved by Jones after magnificent link-up with Judge as the forward played Dozzell’s spread ball first time, received the Irishman’s backheel into feet and burst into the box before having his effort turned round the post.
The half ended with Sears curling a free-kick harmlessly over the top, before James Norwood replaced Drinan at the interval as Lambert made a change up top.
The former Tranmere man was involved almost immediately, in a move which saw Ward cross for Judge to head over the top from a tight angle, as the Blues continued to push forward.
Wilson should have made it two, but dragged his shot wide as Dozzell crossed into the box, before substitute Alex Perry fired over as Ipswich only half-cleared a corner.
Town lacked the same control in attack following Drinan’s departure, though Norwood did cause the Latics’ central defenders problems, with the striker involved in Town’s second as he spun in possession following Judge’s low cross, with Edwards on hand to turn the ball home and secure three points.
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Nsiala, Wilson, Ward; Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop (Huws, 76); Judge, Sears (Edwards, 72), Drinan (Norwood, 46)
Subs: Cornell, Donacien, Kenlock, Hawkins
Wigan Athletic: Jones; Obi, Long, Naismith, Pearce; Merrie (Crankshaw, 83), L Evans; Solomon-Otabor, Gardner (Perry, 46), Roberts; Garner
Subs: O Evans, Aasgaard, Webber, Jolley, Joseph.