Town lead league leaders West Ham 3-1 at interval
A MICHAEL Chopra goal after just over 120 seconds and one in the final moments of the first half helped Ipswich to a shock 3-1 lead over West Ham at half-time.
Town put aside their apparent transfer difficulties – with reports that Pompey trio Jason Pearce, Joel Ward and Stephen Henderson have apparently turned down the club – to fire three goals past the league leaders at Portman Road.
They got off to an ideal start when Chopra, a surprise inclusion instead of Jason Scotland, was found brilliantly by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas before firing a shot past Rob Green.
Only two minutes and 28 seconds had elapsed, but to their credit West Ham responded well.
And they almost equalised after just six minutes when Carlton Cole rose well to meet Matt Taylor’s cross but his header came back off the post.
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The visitors looked dangerous from their inswinging corners and both Luke Hyam and then keeper Arran Lee-Barrett had to be alert to clear under their own bar.
Despite looking shaky at the back, Ipswich restricted the table-toppers to limited chances and at the other end, Daryl Murphy’s low crosses were a threat.
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And it was the left winger who should have done better when presented with a great chance three minutes before the break, but he failed to make a contact to Lee Martin’s driven centre and Green cleared with his feet.
But the Celtic loanee didn’t make the same mistake twice when Tommy Smith met Andy Drury’s corner and Murphy gleefully headed home.
In an amazing end to the half, West Ham pulled a goal straight back when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas foolishly tugged back George McCartney and an unmarked Henri Lansbury nodded in Mark Noble’s free kick.
But just as the nerves started to jangle, great work by Luke Hyam and Drury released Chopra and he was hauled back by McCartney.
The full-back could have been sent off, he received a yellow, but Martin stepped up to send Green the wrong way and cap a whirlwind end to the first half.
Michael Chopra is the surprise name on the Ipswich Town team-sheet tonight as they prepare to lock horns with table-topping West Ham.
The striker, Town’s top scorer in the current squad, has not started for six games but Paul Jewell has gone with Chopra over Jason Scotland,
The only other change from the side that lost to Leeds 3-1 10 days ago sees Arran Lee-Barrett in goal in place of the suspended Alex McCarthy, Richard Wright starts on the bench.
It will be interesting to see whether Town start with the 4-5-1 formation of late or push Daryl Murphy or Jay Emmanuel-Thomas upfront alongside Chopra.
For West Ham, Matt Taylor and Henri Lansbury return while none of the club’s January signings make the 16.
Ipswich: Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Sonko, Smith, Cresswell; Drury, Hyam; Murphy, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin; Chopra. Subs - Wright, Delaney, Leadbitter, Scotland, Bullard
West Ham: Green; Faubert, Reid, Tomkins, McCartney; Collinson, Nolan, Noble, Lansbury, Taylor; Cole. Subs – Baldock, Faye, Nouble, O’Neil, Hall