Portsmouth 0-4 Ipswich Town: Blues deliver Cook's biggest win as boss

Ipswich players celebrate Sone Aluko making the score 3-0 at Portsmouth in the second half

Ipswich players celebrate Sone Aluko making the score 3-0 at Portsmouth in the second half - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town delivered Paul Cook his biggest win yet as manager, as his Blues comfortably saw off Portsmouth on his return to Fratton Park. 

Cook, back at the club he led to the League Two title in 2017, urged his side on from the touchline as goals from Macauley Bonne, Conor Chaplin, Sone Aluko and Wes Burns saw the visitors blow their hosts away before ultimately cruising to victory. 

Bonne’s goal, which saw the striker rob Pompey keeper Gavin Bazunu before finishing with supreme calmness, came just before half-time and put the Blues in control of an otherwise even contest.  

They didn’t look back from there, with each Ipswich goal increasing the pressure from the home stands, sent in the direction of Pompey boss Danny Cowley, as the Fratton Park faithful labelled their side ‘embarrassing’. 

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Cook’s Ipswich lost 2-1 at an empty Fratton Park last season but this win is something of a statement, coming against one of League One’s big guns, even if Cowley’s men are in a difficult period of their own. And, while Ipswich beat Doncaster by six goals just a few weeks ago, a win of this size on an occasion such as this is surely the Town boss's biggest win since taking charge in March.

They were sharp, clever and driven throughout this game, delivering a succession of killer blows to ensure there was no repeat of the weekend disappointment at Cambridge, which saw yet another lead slip away. 

Victory was Town’s fifth in their last eight games and moves Cook’s men up to 13th in the League One table, ahead of the weekend visit of Fleetwood. 

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Cook’s return to Fratton Park saw the Town boss make four changes to the side which drew at Cambridge on Saturday, starting in goal as Christian Walton returned to the starting line-up in place of Vaclav Hladky, after recovering from a hip problem. 

Toto Nsiala took Cameron Burgess’ place in the centre of defence, while Lee Evans returned at the heart of midfield having missed Saturday’s match as he and his family welcomed a new baby. Kyle Edwards took Scott Fraser’s place on the left side, with the latter dropping out the squad completely.  

Peter Reid with Paul Cook and Francis Jeffers on the Fratton Park pitch before kick-off at Portsmout

Peter Reid with Paul Cook and Francis Jeffers on the Fratton Park pitch before kick-off at Portsmouth. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

As is his custom, the Town boss emerged before his side to greet the traveling Ipswich fans behind the goal, receive applause from them but the odd boo from the home crowd who used to chant his name. 

There was an early scare as Walton cleared a George Edmundson back pass, thundering his kick into the back of Pompey forward Ronan Curtis. Thankfully the ball bounced safely into the stand behind the goal.  

The first Ipswich effort of the night saw Chaplin, facing his boyhood club, drive a shot into the legs of John Marquis as he connected with Evans’ corner at the near post. There was then another Ipswich let-off as, after a good Portsmouth move down the left, Lee Brown’s low cross landed at the feet of Marcus Harness as he arrived late in the box. But the forward could only turn his shot wide when he should really have done better. 

Bonne headed over the top from an Evans cross, with the offside flag already up, as both sides exchanged blows without either goalkeeper being overly tested.  

That was, until the Blues took the lead just four minutes before the break. And it was Bonne at his mischievous best which gave Cook’s men the advantage. 

Portsmouth were asking for trouble when defenders Kieron Freeman and Sean Raggett began playing themselves into holes at the back, before working the ball back to goalkeeper Bazunu. That’s where the hosts truly came unstuck, as Bonne closed him down, stole the ball, kept it in as it looked like rolling harmlessly out of play and maintained his composure to fire the ball into the back of the net.  

Sone Aluko celebrates making the score 3-0 at Portsmouth in the second half

Sone Aluko celebrates making the score 3-0 at Portsmouth in the second half - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Town led at the break as they held their advantage, before keeping their hosts waiting at the start of the second period, before setting out on the front foot as the Blues looked to get the ball into the feet of Chaplin as quickly as possible.  

And the former Portsmouth man was the scorer of the second goal as a period of Town pressure ended with the attacker expertly meeting Donacien’s cross to guide the ball into the back of the Portsmouth net.  

Town tails were up and, just five minutes later, they were raised even further as Evans’ excellent interception and Chaplin’s measured pass allowed Sone Aluko to roll the ball into back of the net with the aid of some poor goalkeeping from Bazunu.  

Ipswich were three up and cruising, with Wes Burns the first substitute introduced in place of Edwards. 

He soon made his mark, finishing low past Bazunu as Donacien once again turned provider with a good low cross. 

Macualey Bonne closes down and takes the ball the keeper at Portsmouth leading to his goal.

Macualey Bonne closes down and takes the ball the keeper at Portsmouth leading to his goal. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Chaplin, part of the Cook side which won promotion, was serenaded from the pitch when he was replaced late on, with the Portsmouth fans leaving ‘one of their own’ in no doubt how highly regarded he is at Fratton Park. 

Walton, who had an otherwise quiet game, made smart saves to stop George Hirst and Ronan Curtis efforts, but that was as close as the hosts came to scoring on a night which belonged to Cook, Chaplin and the rest of the Ipswich side. 

Portsmouth: Bazunu; Freeman, Raggett, Williams (Ogilvie, 73), Romeo; Tunnicliffe, Morrell, Brown; Harness (Hackett, 69), Curtis, Marquis (Hirst, 63)

Subs: Bass, Thompson, Azeez, Jacobs

Ipswich Town: Walton; Donacien, Edmundson, Nsiala, Penney; Morsy, Evans; Aluko (Celina, 85), Chaplin (Harper, 78), Edwards (Burns, 63); Bonne

Subs: Hladky, Burgess, El Mizouni, Barry

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