Michael Chopra leads the way as Town topple dismal Bristol City
MICHAEL Chopra’s bullet header set Ipswich Town on the way to a comfortable 3-0 win over Bristol City.
The Town number 10 had gone into this afternoon’s match at Portman Road under a cloud after reportedly turning up late for training, along with Jimmy Bullard – who has been suspended by the club.
But that was partly forgotten after Chopra headed Town into a 24th minute lead following a flowing move which saw Carlos Edwards drill a ball down the right and Lee Martin produce a perfect cross.
And the three points were made safe by two second half goals – Tommy Smith’s deadly header and a beauty from Andy Drury, his first goal in front of the Portman Road faithful.
But for City’s evergreen keeper David James, the scoreline could have been a lot worse after the former England stopper twice denied Chopra with impressive saves.
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In fact, the Blues striker could have scored four in an eventful half which saw Bristol forced into two substitutions and Ipswich produce some wonderfully flowing football at times.
Chopra was denied an opener after 17 minutes when Liam Fontaine just got across to deflect his goalbound shot over.
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A minute later, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas began his personal mission to score a goal of the season contender when his long-ranger whistled wide.
In a rare opening for the visitors, Aaron Cresswell did well to get across and deny Albert Adomah before Liam Fontaine’s header from close range was well tipped over by Alex McCarthy, preferred to Aaron Lee-Barrett.
But that was all a poor Bristol side had to show for the first half and they fell behind to Chopra’s simple but deadly header for his sixth goal in six matches and 13th of an eventful season.
It proved a catalyst for Town to run rampant and after Emmanuel-Thomas blasted a shot just over from 30 yards, the former Arsenal man almost added a second with the move of the half on 39 minutes.
Chopra did well to control Drury’s ball and then chip the ball out to Emmanuel-Thomas. The big man headed on to Lee Martin and kept running, taking the return in his stride before chipping just wide from 25 yards.
Chopra was twice denied by James in the closing stages of the half, latching onto Grant Leadbitter’s dink through but seeing his first-time shot brilliantly saved by the veteran.
In added time, Chopra then saw his poked shot bravely smothered by James as City just about held on.
While 1-0 is never a comfortable scoreline, Town never looked like relinquishing their lead in the second half.
But it took until the 66th minute for them to double their lead when Drury swung over a teasing corner which Smith met perfectly to head home.
The centre-back, looking fresh despite his international exploits with New Zealand this week, almost doubled his personal tally when he headed another Drury cross onto the bar.
Town threatened to run riot although Bristol City subs Chris Wood and Yannick Bolasie tested Alex McCarthy.
But the third eventually came in the 84th minute and it was a peach. Sub Ryan Stevenson, making his Ipswich debut, was heavily involved down the left before rolling the ball back for Daryl Murphy.
His low cross was controlled by Chopra and his lay off was blasted home by Drury from 20 yards. It was a perfect way to end a walk in the park for Ipswich.
Troubled Bristol City have relegation written all over them on the evidence of this 90 minutes.