Match report: Ipswich Town 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 – Blues get back to winning ways in style
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Brett Pitman scored in either half as Ipswich Town finally got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over lowly Bolton at Portman Road this evening.
Maitland-Niles fired home from the edge of the box in the 13th minute, Pitman supplied the killer second in the 70th minute with a fine finish, with Town creating umpteen more chances in what was their most polished performance in some time.
More importantly, however, it ended a seven-match winless run and lifted the Blues back up to 10th in the Championship table ahead of Saturday’s game against rock-bottom Rotherham.
Christophe Berra was once again imperious at the back and Jonas Knudsen fully justified Mick McCarthy’s decision to put him straight back in the team following injury as the Ipswich recorded their second successive clean sheet.
At the other end of the pitch, a three-man attack finally clicked. Bolton simply could not handle Freddie Sears’ driving runs, Pitman’s movement was excellent and though Daryl Murphy did not end his goal drought the Irishman more than played his part.
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McCarthy had made two changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s goalless draw with Cardiff City. A back four which had looked solid in keeping a clean sheet was altered, with fit-again left-back Knudsen replacing Jonathan Parr, while Pitman came in for David McGoldrick up front.
It was a similar situation for Bolton, with boss Neil Lennon making two changes to his team following their goalless draw at Preston. Centre-back Prince, available again following suspension, replaced Derik Osede and was asked to fulfil a right-back role, while Gary Madine came in for Shola Ameobi up front.
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Bolton started the brighter and created good opening inside three minutes, Max Clayton’s weak stooping header saved by Dean Gerken’s legs following some good work by the visitors down their left. Ipswich – with Sears on the left in a 4-4-2 system – gradually worked their way into the game though and there was warm applause when Kevin Bru’s driven cross from the right was headed straight at keeper Nen Amos by Pitman.
Town broke the deadlock in the 13th minute following some fine work by Murphy in the middle of the pitch. He fed the ball wide to Maitland-Niles, the teenager cut inside from the right and fired a left-footed shot from the edge of the box into the far corner of the net. Trotters keeper Amos should arguably have kept it out and his reaction suggested as much.
The goal – only Town’s second in six matches – gave the home side confidence and they began to press high up the pitch and panic Bolton in mistakes. One such moment ended with Pitman putting a cheeky lob over the bar.
Ipswich pushed for a second and were only denied by a fine goalline clearance by Jose Manuel Casado in the 21st minute, the left-back hacking Pitman’s shot away after Amos had collided with defender Dorian Dervite to fumble Murphy’s cross inside the six-yard box.
Moments later, Amos stayed big to keep out Freddie Sears’ angled shot inside the area following Pitman’s pass.
Bolton refused to crumble though and soon begun to play their part in an entertaining first period.
In the 26th minute, Knudsen could consider himself fortunate to only be issued a yellow card after he tripped Clayton on the edge of the area. The Bolton forward had spun Town’s left-back and would have been clear on goal. From the resultant intricate free-kick routine, Wheater’s piledriver was well-blocked by Luke Chambers.
It required another fine Chambers block, this time on Darren Pratley in the area, after Feeney’s sublime switch. Then Clayton came within inches of connecting with Josh Vela’s sumptuous curling cross from deep.
Ipswich responded and Sears hooked a difficult chance over the bar after Pitman had nodded Knudsen’s deep cross back cross goal. Then Maitland-Niles was sent scampering clear down the left by Bru’s chip, but, carrying a knock, he could not get clear and his low cross was cut out. Seconds later, the Arsenal loanee was replaced by Jonathan Douglas.
There was still time for one more Town chance before the break, Sears’ low shot inside the area held by Amos following smart build-up involving Chambers and Murphy.
Ipswich carried that momentum into the second period and within five minutes of the restart they rattled the woodwork. After a corner was half-cleared, Douglas hit the crispest of half-volleys on the edge of the box, it took a slight nick off Sears on the way to goal and cannoned off the top of the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Sears’ stooping header was hacked clear by Wheater after Knudsen had helped Bru’s deep cross back across goal.
If anything summed up Town’s new-found confidence it was when Tommy Smith, up in the right wing slot temporarily following a set-piece, beat Pratley all ends up with a skilful Cruyff-turn. Eventually, Bru’s cross was headed into a crowded area by Murphy.
Bolton began to look rank bad as keeper Amos repeatedly put goalkicks straight into touch, defender Dervite sliced a kick into the stands and Pratley’s attempted dummy ended up looking silly.
You sensed that Ipswich needed a killer second just to make the game safe though and that duly arrived in the 70th minute following a fine counter-attack. First Sears drove forwards with the ball, eating up space, then he slipped a pass to the supporting Pitman who promptly fired a super finish high into the net.
The home side were finally able to relax and it required another frantic goalline clearance from Bolton in the 76th minute, Jay Spearing keeping out Pitman’s header following Sears’ pass and Murphy’s fine cross. A minute later, Pitman’s glancing header went just over following Knudsen’s cross from the left.
Ipswich continued to enjoy themselves and ended up with 10 shots on target, Sears’ audacious dipping volley from range well held by Amos and Murphy’s angled attempt also smartly saved. Even McGoldrick, on in the 88th minute, almost got in on the act when he came agonisingly close to getting on the end of Sears’ low cross.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (Douglas 43), Skuse, Bru, Sears; Pitman (McGoldrick 88), Murphy.
Unused subs: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Parr, Coke, Oar.
Booked: Knudsen (26), Chambers (80).
BOLTON WDRS (4-3-1-2): Amos; Prince (Derik 46), Dervite, Wheater, Cassado; Pratley (cpt), Vela, Spearing (Heskey 79); Feeney, Madine, Clayton (Woolery 73).
Unused subs: Rachubka, Danns, Dobbie, Twardzik.
Booked: Casado (7), Madine (58).
Attendance: 17,017 (245 away)
Referee: Darren Deadman