MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 2 Fulham 1

David McGoldrick celebrates after putting IpswichTown 2-0 in front. PHOTO: Ashley Pickering

David McGoldrick celebrates after putting IpswichTown 2-0 in front. PHOTO: Ashley Pickering - Credit: Ashley Pickering

Ipswich v Fulham: Ipswich Town got their 2014/15 off to a flier with a fully-deserved 2-1 home win over newly-relegated Fulham at Portman Road, goals from Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick rendering Tim Hoogland’s late reply a mere consolation.

The Cottagers – including eight debutants and nine different nationalities – dominated possession at times, but never really looked a threat in the final third.

It was a case of ‘welcome to the Championship’ for Felix Magath’s young side, with Mick McCarthy’s settled side displaying their usual qualities of hard-work and organisation.

Following an even start to the match, in which Christophe Berra had a header tipped over and Dean gerken recovered well after spilling a Chris David effort, Town broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Luke Hyam – who produced a man-of-the-match display, not only aggressive in the tackle, but positive and forward-thinking with his passes and movement – seized on a loose ball in the middle, drove forward and slipped a pass into the path of Murphy. The Irish striker glided past Shaun Hutchinson in the box and then smashed in a fine right-footed effort which beat rookie keeper Jesse Joronen at the near post.

It was much the same in the second half, Fulham’s passing always in safe areas and Ipswich picking their moments when to attack.

Magath gave £11m summer signing Ross McCormack the hook in the 57th minute, the semi-fit front man – who top-scorer in the division with 28 goals for Leeds last season – having barely had a kick. Town fans, who have seen their own manager once again restricted to free transfer additions, gleefully sung ‘what a waste of money’.

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By contrast, Town’s own star striker shone. McGoldrick – on as a 44th minute sub for exhausted debutant Balint Bajner – only started full training less than a fortnight ago, but he looked like he’d never been away following the knee injury that required surgery back in February.

Town’s talismanic striker, who scored 16 goals last season, got off the mark just after the hour. Hyam was once again involved, chipping the ball forwards for Murphy to head on into the corner. The powerful Irishman ran on to his own flick, out-muscled Hutchinson and produced a cross which was half-cleared at the near post, McGoldrick arriving late to coolly ram home the loose ball from 12 yards out.

The Blues seemed to be in cruise control at this point and they missed a golden chance to put the game to bed in the 79th minute, sub Anthony Wordsworth heading over the bar from six yards out after McGoldrick’s sumptuous crossfield pass and Luke Chambers’ exquisite touch and delivery.

It ended up being a very nervy finish, however, after right-back Tim Hoogland cut inside Tyrone Mings and hit a shot which took a heavy deflection off of Tommy Smith to wrong-foot Gerken and go in at the near post in the 86th minute.

Town suddenly looked edgy and Fulham continually pressed forwards, forcing several corners and a few heart in the mouth moments for the home crowd. The Blues held on though to get their campaign off to a winning start.

– Reaction to follow.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Mings; Hewitt, Skuse (Wordsworth 70), Hyam (Bru 81), Tabb; Murphy, Bajner (McGoldrick 44).

Unused subs: Bialkowski, Henshall, Marriott, Nouble.

Booked: Hyam (37), Mings (81), Berra (86).

FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Joronen; Hoogland, Bodurov, Hutchinson (Roberts 73), Stafylidis; Burgess; Parker, Hyndman; David (Eisfeld 46); McCormack (Woodrow 57), Dembele.

Unused subs: Bettinelli, Rodallege, Fotheringham, Burn.

Attendance: 17,218 (1,539 away)

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