MATCH REPORT: Southend United 1 Ipswich Town 2
David McGoldrick made his long-awaited comeback from injury as Ipswich Town won 2-1 at Southend United in their latest pre-season outing.
Following a drab first half in which few players did their chances much good, the Blues livened up following several half-time changes and took the lead through Hungarian triallist Balint Bajner’s cultured finish (58).
McGoldrick – who scored 16 goals last season before injuring his cruciate knee ligaments in mid-February – came on in the 73rd minute, but within moments the League Two hosts were level as Myles Weston converted at the far post.
McGoldrick had a mixed 20 minutes, looking understandably ring-rusty at times, before Town snatched a winner in stoppage-time – Anthony Wordsworth sliding in to convert at close-range after keeper Ted Smith had saved bravely at Teddy Bishop’s feet.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy named a starting XI that may well be not far off what he has in mind for the Championship opener against Fulham at Portman Road a week on Saturday.
However, no-one nailed down their place in an absolutely dire first half completely devoid of entertainment or quality.
Frank Nouble hit a tame shot straight at keeper Paul Smith in the sixth minute and that proved to be the only attempt on target of the entire half.
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The Roots Hall pitch did not help, the overly-watered, long grass meaning the ball didn’t run particularly well and players were continually losing their footing.
Low-lights included Tyrone Mings passing the ball straight out of touch under no pressure, Jay Tabb over-hitting a cross into an empty stand and keeper Bartosz Bialkowski mis-reading Christophe Berra’s backpass to concede a corner.
The hosts weren’t much better. Indeed, you could make a case for Freddy Eastwood being named the player of the half. The striker – retiring because of knee troubles – had kicked off the match and was then subbed after 30 seconds to a rousing reception from the home crowd.
McCarthy made seven changes to his team at the break, Bialkowski, Berra, Smith and Tabb the only players to avoid the hook.
Immediately there was more spark about the visitors, with Elliott Hewitt’s forward run winning the free-kick which led to the opener in the 58th minute.
Anthony Wordsworth’s set-piece attempt cannoned off the wall, Cameron Stewart’s angled attempt was semi-cleared and Bajner did superbly to send a cultured side-footed shot into the far corner of the net from just inside the box.
As the old cliché goes, ‘good feet for a big man’, the 6ft 5in Hungarian celebrating in front of the away fans as if it was a Championship fixture.
The second period continued to be a far better spectacle, despite the usual mass influx of substitutions.
The one all Town fans were waiting for came in the 73rd minute, McGoldrick – who injured his cruciate knee ligaments back in February – one of four players to come on.
It meant that the unfortunate Kevin Bru (triallist), Cameron Stewart and Jack Marriott were all subbed substitutes, having only just come on at half-time themselves.
Moments after those changes the Blues were guilty of falling asleep at the back, Southend equalising as David Worrall’s low cross was converted at the back post by Myles Weston – the sub scoring with his first touch.
McGoldrick showed signs of his ring-rustiness when slicing an attempted clearance horribly behind his own goal and air-kicking when the opportunity to shoot on the angle presented itself at the other end.
In between that though he did produce a surging run and powerful long-range shot that the keeper was forced to parry.
A draw would probably have been a fair outcome, but Town found a winner in stoppage-time – Anthony Wordsworth sliding in to convert from close-range after keeper Ted Smith had saved bravely at the feet of Teddy Bishop.
SOUTHEND UNITED (4-4-2): P Smith (T Smith 76); White, Prosser (Richards-Everton 46), Thompson (Ibenfeldt 46), Coker (Clegg 46); Worrall (Williams 77), Deegan (Jenkins 46), Hurst, Leonard (Payne 79), Cheidozie (Fagan 63), Eastwood (Barnard 1, Weston 73).
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (Hewitt 46), Berra, Smith (Clarke 73), Mings (Parr 46); Anderson (Stewart 46, Henshall 73), Skuse (Bru 46, Bishop 73), Hyam (Wordsworth 46), Tabb (Taylor 65); Nouble (Bajner 46), Murphy (Marriott 46, McGoldrick 73).