Nathan Ellington shoots down Braintree but Ipswich Town win thanks to Arran Lee-Barrett

A YOUTHFUL Ipswich Town were led by older heads at either end of the pitch as Arran Lee-Barrett put in a man-of-the-match display and Nathan Ellington scored the only goal to give the Blues victory over an impressive Braintree side.

Watched by new signing Scott Loach, an unused sub, Lee-Barrett made a string of decent saves to keep the Iron at bay.

Ellington’s deflected winner in the 75th minute proved the difference for a young side that resembled what Town might put out in next season’s anticipated Under-21 league – which is expected to include space for a couple of over-age players.

Where that leaves Jimmy Bullard and Ellington is anyone’s guess as they both started at the Amlin Stadium rather than tonight’s ‘first-team’ friendly at Cambridge.

It was a poor half from Town’s point of view with the Iron comfortably creating the best of the chances.

But they could not find a way past Lee-Barrett with Josh Dawkin going close having dispossessed Cheik Kourouma. After being ineligible to travel with Town for last week’s tour of the Netherlands, the midfielder was making his first start for the Blues despite his contract situation remaining up in the air.

Under the watchful eye of coaches Mark Kennedy and Sean McCarthy in the dugout and Paul Jewell in the stands, Town largely failed to fire in the opening 45 minutes. The Iron, on the other hand, had a couple of great chances to open the scoring in front of a good-sized crowd. Kenny Davis tricked his way into the Town area but the home skipper could not find a way past Lee-Barrett. The best chance of the half fell to Braintree on 39 minutes when Josh Dawkin beat skipper Jack Ainsley too easily down the left and his driven low cross was somehow hit over the bar by triallist Kieron St Aimie.

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Lee-Barrett again came to his side’s rescue after the break when Bradley Quinton stung the palms of the keeper before the predictable succession of substitutions affected any flow of the game.

Jimmy Bullard unleashed a speculative shot that flew just over before Ellington broke the deadlock out of nothing following good work by Joe Whight.

A terrible clearance from Josh Carson almost gifted Iron an equaliser when Kaine Sheppard picked up the loose pass but once again Lee-Barrett was an insurmountable barrier before youngster Joe Robinson cleared off the line from Matt Paine’s header.

As Lee-Barrett excelled, Loach watched on from the dugout for the entire 90 minutes and should be given his chance against Cambridge tonight.

Ipswich: Lee-Barrett, Peters, Ainsley, Whight, Bakayogo, Timlin, Hyam, Kourouma, Bullard, Carson, Ellington. Subs – Loach, Thorsteinsson, Robinson, October, Winter, Wilby.

Braintree: McDonald, O’Connor, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Habergham, McNish, Symons, Davis, Dawkin, Marks, St Aimie. Subs – Bryant, Wells, Sheppard, Ward, Mulley, Wedderburn, Walker, Quinton.