MATCH REPORT: Notts County 3 Ipswich Town 3

Ipswich Town were unable to complete pre-season with a 100% record as they let a 3-1 lead slip at League One side Notts County this afternoon.

The Blues played some superb attacking football in the first half and raced into a two-goal lead as Luke Hyam (15) and Daryl Murphy (23) finished off slick moves.

Ex-Blues striker Danny Haynes halved the deficit with a scrappy goal in the 35th minute, but a fabulous 25-yard free-kick from Paul Taylor – making only his second appearance forllowing a 10-month injury absence – restored Town’s two-goal advantage in the 57th minute.

Former Blues player and coach Chris Kiwomya has built a squad that looks capable of challenging for League One promotion at Meadow Lane though and his side fully deserved their comeback draw.

Centre-back Manny Smith fired home a loose ball after Town failed to clear a free-kick delivery on the hour mark, with tricky winger Yoann Arquin levlled things up in the 77th minute with a fine individual goal.

In a frantic start to the match, both sides could – and probably should – have broken the deadlock.

For Notts County, Enoch Showunmi fired a golden one-on-one chance straight at Scott Loach in the second minute, Elliott Hewitt having given the ball away cheaply prior to Mark Fotheringham’s through ball.

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At the other end, Murphy twice went close with headed efforts inside the six-yard box. First he put a firm downward header against the inside of the post, while moments later he glanced a header just past the far post. Aaron Cresswell and McGoldrick were the providers with two pin-point crosses from the left.

There was a worrying moment for Town in the 10th minute when left-back Aaron Cresswell – who has struggled with a thigh problem throughout pre-season – pulled up sharply and headed immediately for the tunnel. Time will tell if the injury will rule him out of Saturday’s Championship opener at Reading or whether it was simply a precautionary early exit.

Ipswich were playing some slick football, with McGoldrick’s intelligent movement and sharp touch in tight areas at the heart of everything good the visitors did.

Indeed, it was McGoldrick who dropped deep to win the initial header leading up to the Blues’ opener in the 15th minute. Murphy shielded his man on the by-line, set Jay Tabb away with a clever back-heel and he clipped in a cross for the late-arriving Hyam to guide home with a stooping close-range header.

Ipswich continued to dominate and doubled their lead in the 23rd minute with another superbly worked move.

Once again, McGoldrick was at the heart of the move, receiving Tyrone Mings’ ball up the line, spinning his tight marker in flash and leaving Murphy with a simple tap-in at the far post with a fine sweeping cross.

The game started to heat up on the half hour when Luke Hyam and Joss Labadie squared up. The referee called an impromptu drinks break, but it did little to cool the duo down and they were soon wrestling each other to the floor.

Notts County improved after that bout of handbags and halved the deficit in the 35th minute. Haynes – the man who dubbed the ‘Canary Crusher’ by Town fans for his goals against rivals Norwich – squeezed the ball just beyond Loach after Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s cross had deflected fortuitously into his path.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy made seven substitutions at the break. Strangely, within four minutes, Anthony Wordsworth – one of the men to come on – had been replaced himself.

After a quiet start to the second period, there were two goals in three minutes.

Ipswich struck first when Taylor – making only his second cameo appearance following a 10-month injury absence – netted a wonderful free-kick. Just 10 yards inside the left touchline and a good 25-yards out, the striker’s dead ball effort arrowed into the top left corner.

Notts County quickly responded when centre-back Smith fired home a loose ball in the area after Town failed to clear a free-kick delivery from the left.

Suddenly it was the hosts who were pushing for an equaliser. Dean Gerken got down quickly to keep out Yoann Arquin’s fierce effort at the near post, Tommy Smith hacking the loose ball clear, while Smith headed against the post – albeit the whistle having been blown for a push.

The leveller arrived in the 77th minute. Arquin picked up the ball from deep, drifted in off the left touchline past some fairly static defenders and left Gerken no chance with a drilled finish.

Shortly afterwards, Gerken had to spring to his right to prevent Kyle Hammond’s backwards header becoming an own goal.

– Reaction to follow.

NOTTS COUNTY (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Liddle, Smith, Hollis, Sheehan; Campbell-Ryce, Fotheringham, Labadie, Bell; Showunmi, Haynes.

Subs: Pilkington, Arquin, Haworth, Thompson, Tempest, Boucaud, Mahon, Parrett, Phillip, Murray, Bennett.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Loach (Gerken 46); Hewitt (Veseli 46), Chambers (Berra 46), Smith, CResswell (Mings 10, Hammond 68); Anderson, Hyam (Tunnicliffe 46), Skuse (Wordsworth 46, Berkane 49), Tabb (October 68); McGoldrick (Taylor 46), Murphy (Nouble 46).