Report: Cambridge United 2 Ipswich Town 3 – Maitland-Niles, Pitman and McGoldrick all on target

Ainsley Maitland-Niles thanks Freddie Sears for setting up his early goal at Cambridge last night

Ainsley Maitland-Niles thanks Freddie Sears for setting up his early goal at Cambridge last night

New boys Brett Pitman and Ainsley Maitland-Niles continued their goalscoring form, while David McGoldrick netted on his return to action, as Ipswich Town won 3-2 at Cambridge United tonight.

Arsenal loanee Maitland-Niles swept home his second goal in as many pre-season games early on before Pitman – recruited from Bournemouth – made it four in three to double the lead inside the opening half an hour.

The League Two hosts levelled things up with goals either side of the break, Barry Corr’s header and Luke Berry’s free-kick coming after sloppy moments at the back.

McGoldrick, playing his first pre-season game following an extended summer break, fired home the winner just after the hour mark though.

Just like in the 4-3 defeat at German side Fortuna Dusseldorf last Friday, Town looked good going forwards but had a few worrying defensive lapses.

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Jay Tabb, like in the game against Dusseldorf, played at left-back. That’s because Jonathan Parr (thigh) was once again rested as a precaution and youngster Matt Clarke has joined League Two club Portsmouth on trial with view to a loan.

Christophe Berra made his first start of pre-season, while McGoldrick was on the bench and Daryl Murphy left at home again due to a few end-of-season niggles he’s still getting over.

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All three of the aforementioned had been given extended summer breaks due to their international exploits which followed the play-off defeat to Norwich.

It took Ipswich little more than two minutes to break the deadlock, Maitland-Niles sweeping home a left-footed shot from inside the area following Freddie Sears’ pull-back from the left.

It was very similar to the goal the tricky 17-year-old right-winger had scored in his previous outing. And his quick feet and passing certainly left an impression on the 1,200 away fans at The Abbey Stadium.

Town came close to doubling their lead moments later when Pitman lifted the ball over the bar following Kevin Bru’s cross from the left.

There was a sharp intake of breath around ground when home right-back Elliott Omozusi caught the in-flight Ryan Fraser with a late slide tackle. Thankfully, the winger – after lying in a heap for a number of seconds – was okay to carry on.

Ipswich continued to dictate the play and drew rapturous applause from the packed away end after a flowing move. Bru’s first-time chip over the top was perfectly-weighted, Fraser took the ball in his stride brilliantly, before Pitman fired just over.

The referee then had to have a word with Omozusi after another over-jealous challenge, this time on Tabb.

Town scored their second, in the 29th minute, when Pitman showed predatory instincts to slide the ball home after Maitland-Niles’ heavily deflected shot had looped over the keeper and come back off the face of the crossbar.

It was another fine goal from the summer signing, following on from his penalty and close-range header in the 6-0 win at Irish side Shelbourne and his sublime bit of close ball control and scoop over the keeper against Dusseldorf.

Everything had been going so well until Cambridge pulled a goal back in the 38th minute. It was a sloppy goal to concede too, the Town defence not sticking to their runners at a corner and thus allowing Corr to thump home a free header from Jeff Hughes’ delivery.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy didn’t make any changes at the break but was forced into a substitution within three minutes of the restart, Pitman limping off with what looked to be a sore foot/ankle. It was hopefully only a precautionary measure, with McGoldrick replacing him.

Cambridge equalised in the 55th minute after yet more sloppy defending. Centre-backs Berra and Tommy Smith got in a mix-up and ended up conceding a free-kick on the edge of the box. When the dust had settled, substitute Berry curled a brilliant set-piece in off the far post.

Moments later, Berry came close to making it 3-2 when he slid a close-range shot over the bar following a low cross from the right.

Ipswich settled and got their noses back in front not long after the hour mark when McGoldrick coolly fired a low angled shot inside the near post following Maitland-Niles’ pass.

Before the game kicked off again, McCarthy made nine changes to his team – only leaving keeper Bialkowski and McGoldrick on the field.

Academy centre-back Joe Robinson, 18, made his first senior appearance, with fellow youngsters Kyle Hammond, Josh Emmanuel, Myles Kenlock, Adam McDonnell, Kundai Benyu, Josh Yorwerth, Teddy Bishop and Alex Henshall all coming on.

Ipswich, despite having a team whose average age was in the low 20s, finished the stronger and could have added to their goal tally.

Hammond, sliding in, toed a shot just the wrong side of the post following Bishop’s cut-back. Bishop then provided a weak close-range header inside the six-yard box.

See here for a full action gallery from last night’s game.

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