Town turn things around after going one down

CARLOS Edwards, Tamas Priskin and Damien Delaney all scored as Ipswich Town made it into the last eight of the Carling Cu, with a 3-1 victory over Northampton.

IPSWICH Town eased into the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup with an ultimately comfortable victory over League Two strugglers Northampton Town last night.

Roy Keane’s men, as they are apt to do, did it the hard way by falling behind inside the first 20 minutes, but they came storming back to win with a little to spare.

It was the perfect response to a rotten run of three straight defeats in the Championship, and also an injury blow (ankle) to Connor Wickham, sustained in training on Sunday, that forced him to miss last night’s match.

Gutsy Northampton drew first blood by taking a shock lead through Liam Davis’ opportunist strike in the 17th minute.

Davis turned inside Grant Leadbitter and tried his luck from long-range with a shot that took a deflection off Tommy Smith’s outstretched boot. This caused the ball to loop over the stranded Brian Murphy and drop into the roof of the net.

It was little unlucky for Murphy, because without the deflection he would probably have had to shot covered.

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However, Town were level just nine minutes later, thanks to a fantastic finish by Carlos Edwards.

Jason Scotland controlled Tamas Priskin’s header down and slotted a precise pass through for Edwards. Full-back Davis slipped at the vital moment and Edwards did not need a second invitation, advancing forward a couple of yards before unleashing a stinging shot that flew beyond the reach of keeper Chris Dunn and into the far corner of the net.

And Dunn had little chance with Damien Delaney’s rasping shot, just two minutes before half-time, which handed Town a 2-1 lead.

Gareth McAuley seemed to be pulled back, while attempting to meet Andros Townsend’s corner, but the loose ball dropped at the feet of fellow centre-half Delaney. He turned to last home a rising shot from eight yards out.

The home side were quite comfortable throughout the second-half, and they were rewarded with a third goal in the 88th minute to ensure a safe passage through to the last eight.

Priskin, who looked lively all evening, headed home Leadbitter’s free-kick to send Town fans home happy.

The quarter-final draw is on Saturday.

Town started brightly, operating with a 4-4-2 formation, and Tamas Priskin should have done better when the ball dropped at his feet from Gareth McAuley’s downward header. The Hungarian hesitated and was unable to get his shot away from close range.

Yet it was the visitors who registered the game’s first shot on target, after five minutes, with Murphy safely gathering a fierce drive from Kevin Thornton.

Priskin discovered his own shooting boots in the eighth minute, letting fly from a narrow angle. He struck the 20-yarder with venom, but straight at keeper Dunn, who hardly had to move an inch.

Town continued to be in the ascendancy early on, enjoying a lot of possession just outside the Cobblers box, but without seriously troubling Dunn.

And they were rocked back on their heels by Davis’ surprise opener, and for a few minutes the hosts were soaking up some pressure.

A cross floated over from the right flank by Ryan Gilligan caused problems, although Billy McKay jumped illegally when nodding over the bar.

It was important that Town responded quickly, and they did just that with Edwards rifling home his second goal of the season to equalise on 26 minutes. His first had come in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, two months ago.

Dunn had to be at his best to prevent Town from taking the lead just three minutes later. Scotland was again the creator, sliding the ball through for fellow striker Priskin, whose low drive was parried by Dunn and then smothered at the second attempt.

The home side ended the first-half strongly and were deservedly in front before the interval.

A long-range shot by Leadbitter, following a throw-in, forced Dunn into a desperate save. The ball spun loose, but the Cobblers keeper recovered well and the onrushing David Norris could not squeeze home the rebound.

However, Town did take a 2-1 lead from the ensuing corner, delivered by Townsend and emphatically dispatched by Delaney. It was the big defender’s first goal of the campaign, in what was only his fourth start following a serious leg injury.

The Cobblers struggled to venture out of their own half during the first 15 minutes of the second period.

Priskin was cursing his luck again, with a shot that ricocheted wide off a defender in the 47th minute, and Townsend warmed Dunn’s hands with a thumping 20-yard drive on the hour mark.

A rare mistake by Leadbitter gave the visitors a ray of hope in the 64th minute. Winger Michael Jacobs intercepted Leadbitter’s stray pass, which had been intended for Tom Eastman, only to fire his shot high and wide.

At the other end, Ronan Murray, on as a 66th minute substitute, engineered a quickfire break. The teenager exhanged a one-two with Priskin, but failed to get any power in his shot from the edge of the box.

The visitors rarely threatened an equaliser during the final quarter of the game. The closest they came was when a long throw from substitute Andrew Holt, in the 86th minute, was allowed to drop into the six-yard box. McAuley was in the right place to chest back to Murphy.

Two minutes later and Priskin capped a satisfactory night for Town by heading home a third, from Leadbitter’s free-kick.

The quarter-finals beckon, which will offer some light relief to the rigors of the Championship.

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