Chirewa fires home and Humphreys impresses but Town U23s begin season with defeat

Tawanda Chirewa celebrates his goal with Fraser Alexander

Tawanda Chirewa celebrates his goal with Fraser Alexander - Credit: Ross Halls

Ipswich Town’s Under 23s opened their season with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Coventry City at Portman Road. 

Town founds things difficult in the opening 45 minutes as they contended with Coventry’s first-team striker Matt Godden, with the 30-year-old's nous and physical threat causing problems and laying on the opening goal of the game for Fabio Tavares. 

The Blues missed a golden chance to respond, as Ben Morris fired his penalty over the top on his return from another long injury lay-off, before they grew into the game after the break. 

Kieron Dyer’s youngsters began to dominate, with Cameron Humphreys and  Tawanda Chirewa seeing plenty of the ball in the middle of the pitch, with their pressure ultimately resulting in the latter firing home from outside the box. 

Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook watches on during the Under 23s game with Coventry

Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook watches on during the Under 23s game with Coventry - Credit: Ross Halls

Further chances came and went, on an afternoon where Morris looked sharp despite his long absence and the Ipswich creative players saw plenty of the ball, but it was the visitors who left victorious as Josh Pask netted from a corner to claim the points for the Sky Blues. 

It was a disappointing end for an Ipswich side who deserved to take at least a point from this contest, following a good display after the break in front of watching first-team manager Paul Cook. They were inches away from a stoppage time leveller, too, with captain Albie Armin's header bouncing clear off the inside of the post.

Coventry included first-team striker Godden in their starting line-up, as he continues his recovery from injury, and the man who Paul Lambert previously tried to bring to Ipswich had the game’s first chance as he fired in a free-kick which Town keeper Antoni Bort did well to save. 

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Godden then lashed wide from outside the box before Town began to play some nice, one-touch football in the final third. They were soon behind, though. 

Ben Morris is frustrated after missing a penalty for Town's Under 23s

Ben Morris is frustrated after missing a penalty for Town's Under 23s - Credit: Ross Halls

The goal originated from a long ball forward, in the direction of Godden, which Ipswich centre-backs Cameron Stewart and Armin both allowed to bounce, which gave Tavares the opportunity to break between the two of them and lob Bort. 

Ipswich’s response was rapid, though, as Zanda Siziba was felled inside the box as the Blues flew down the other end and won a penalty kick. Sadly, though, Morris’s penalty flew firmly over the top of the bar. 

Bort had to be at his best to keep the score at 1-0, has he was fully extended to tip Blaine Rowe’s shot over the top of the bar, before Sky Blues captain Jonny Ngandu fired over the top from outside the box following a quick move down the right flank.  

Chirewa stung the palms of the Coventry goalkeeper before the break, before Godden headed wide again ahead of his exit at the break, with the young Blues attacking quickly at the start of the second period as Matt Ward headed wide following a cross into the box. 

Ward, who impressed during two pre-season cameos with the first-team earlier in the summer, was presented with another chance just a couple of minutes later, as he fired over the top following a clever flick from Morris, before Chirewa also saw a shot blocked en route to goal. 

Town were playing some nice stuff by the midpoint of the second period, with Ward beginning to threaten, and low crosses coming into the box, before Chirewa let fly from outside the box to find the bottom corner and bring his side level. 

Coventry celebrate their opening goal

Coventry celebrate their opening goal - Credit: Ross Halls

Morris escaped down the right and fired in what was surely intended as a cross, which rattled the inside of the Coventry post and bounced clear, bringing gasps from the 200 or so Ipswich fans in attendance as Dyer’s side sensed a winner was there for them. 

Chirewa was next to threaten, again forcing a save from the Coventry goalkeeper, before Bort did well to save from Harrison Nee, and then just about recovering after spilling the resulting corner. 

Both sides chased a winner and it was Coventry who got it, as Pask netted from a corner to deny an Ipswich side who deserved at least a point, which they so nearly got when Armin's header hit the post as time ran out

Next up for Dyer’s young men in Professional Development League 2 is a visit to Crewe next Monday. 

Ipswich Town: Ridd; Andoh (Healy, 57), Stewart, Armin, Clements; Alexander, Humphreys; Ward, Chirewa, Siziba (Curtis, 55), Morris 

Subs: Cullum, Smith, Okonowo 

Coventry City: O'Shaun; Pask, Drysdale, McGrath, Reid; Howley, Ngandu, Tavares, Rus, Rowe, Godden (Dinangia, 46) 

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