MATCH REPORT: Stevenage 2 Ipswich Town 0
Stevenage v Ipswich: Ipswich Town exited the Capital One Cup to lower league opposition for the third successive season with a 2-0 defeat at Stevenage tonight.
After a first half short on quality, the Blues fell behind when Filipe Morais converted a penalty – awarded for a needless push by Luke Hyam just inside the area.
Mick McCarthy brought on first-choice strike duo David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy in an attempt to rescue the match, but former Norwich trainee keeper Steve Arnold – who only started due to Chris Day being injured in the warm-up – was proving hard to beat.
And the League One hosts wrapped up their progress in 75th minute when Jordan Burrow finished off Luke Freeman’s cross.
It continued a miserable run for Town in the League Cup, with exits having been suffered at Carlisle and Northampton in the previous two years.
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McCarthy made six changes to the side which opened the new season with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Reading.
Scott Loach, Elliott Hewitt, Carlos Edwards, Murphy and MCGoldrick all dropped to the bench, while Tyrone Mings was absent with the knee injury he sustained at the Madjeski Stadium.
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Dean Gerken, Frederic Veseli and Christophe Berra were all handed their Town debuts, while Paul Anderson also made his first start for the club.
Alongside Frank Nouble up front was Paul Taylor, the latter making his first competitive start in 11 months following a lengthy injury absence.
By contrast, Stevenage boss Graham Westley made just two changes to the side which started the season with a 4-3 defeat at home to Oldham. That soon became three alterations though when keeper Chris Day injured himself in the warm-up and had to be replaced by former Norwich trainee Arnold.
The Championship visitors started on the front foot, with Nouble seeing a shot blocked and Sam Wedbury clearing off the line after Berra got his head on the end of an Anderson corner.
Stevenage weathered the storm though and could – and probably should – have been level in the 14th minute when Oumare Tounkare, unmarked in the six yard box, headed Luke Freeman’s pin-point cross over the bar.
With Mings (knee), Aaron Cresswell (thigh) and Anthony Wordsworth (calf) already in the treatment room, Town were dealt another left-sided injury blow soon after the half hour.
Jay Tabb tried to play on after landing heavily following a gigantic leap, but it quickly became apparent he was in some discomfort with his left shoulder and he was replaced by Edwards.
Just like in the second half at Reading, Town were guilty of hitting some aimless long balls forward for a spell with Skuse the only player really looking to put his foot on it and build moves.
Taylor fired one effort into the side-netting after a neat turn past his marker in the 37th minute, while he also forced Arnold into a full-length save just before half-time after making himself half-a-yard on the edge of the box with a lovely shimmy.
At the other end, Gerken made a good stop low down at his near post from Filipe Morais after Veseli misjudged the flight of a long ball.
Town’s one real flowing move of the opening half created the best chance, with Edwards, sliding in the far post, inches away from turning in Luke Hyam’s cross-cum-shot.
The Blues’ evergreen Trinidadian was making a difference and he created two good chances at the start of the second half, clipping one cross just past the far post, with Nouble heading another delivery just over.
Stevenage’s opener therefore came against the run of play – and what a soft goal it was to concede too.
There appeared little danger on when Oumara Tounkara received the ball on the edge of the box, but Hyam – with plenty of cover around him - inexplicably shoved the striker just as he entered the box.
Tellingly, there were few protests from the Town players with Morais sending Gerken the wrong way from the spot.
If anyone doubted Mick McCarthy’s desire to stay in the competition he answered them by bringing on first choice front pairing McGoldrick and Murphy just five minutes later.
The Blues began to play with some fire in the bellies, but they were denied an equaliser on the hour when Arnold produced a good save from McGoldrick one-on-one following Hyam’s well-weighted through ball.
And when Anderson’s low shot through a crowded box whistle just past the post in the 68th minute, after the visitors’ 10th corner of the match was only half-cleared, you began to wonder whether it would be one of those nights.
So it proved as Stevenage grabbed a killer second in the 75th minute, Jordan Burrow drifting between two centre-backs to convert Freeman’s low cross from the right on the slide.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of Ipswich’s comeback, with Arnold making a super one-handed save from a close-range Smith header at the death just to rub salt in the wounds.
STEVENAGE (4-4-2): Arnold; Wedgbury, Ashton (cpt), Charles, Hills; Freeman, Heslop, Tansey, Morais (Shroot 72); Tounkara (Haber 72), Burrow (Jones 90).
Unused subs: Akins, N’Guessan, Deacon.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Veseli, Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith; Anderson, Skuse, Hyam, Tabb (Edwards 35); Nouble (Murphy 56), Taylor (McGoldrick 56).
Unused subs: Loach, Hewitt, Hammond, Berkane.