Report: Shelbourne 1 Ipswich Town 2 – Pitman and Sears on target in pre-season opener
- Credit: Archant
Brett Pitman and Freddie Sears scored in either half as Ipswich Town kick-started their 2016/17 pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win at Irish side Shelbourne.
Pitman rifled a fine long-range shot into the top corner in the 28th minute, with Sears squeezing an angled shot inside the near post just after the hour mark as Mick McCarthy named a completely different team in each half.
Dublin-based side Shelbourne are fifth in the Irish second-tier table and, having lost a league game 1-0 the previous night, they fielded a team of fringe players and youth teamers.
This is the fourth year in a row that Town have played this fixture, having previously won 2-0, 4-0 and 6-0. This time their margin of victory was just one as a Tommy Smith handball provided Dylan Grimes with the opportunity to convert from the spot in the 77th minute.
McCarthy said recently that he might consider playing Teddy Bishop on the wing this season and though he started on the right, he was afforded the freedom to drift wherever he wished.
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The talented teenager, who missed virtually the whole of last season through injury, was at the heart of everything good that the Blues did in the first half.
Bishop played a sharp one-two inside the box with Irish Under-18 international forward Shane McLoughlin in the 12th minute and saw his subsequent shot blocked. From the resultant half-cleared corner, Bishop looped a long-range header inches wide.
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Town’s extra class showed as they dominated possession, but this was typical pre-season fare as players found their match legs again in breezy conditions and on a bobbly playing surface.
The Blues broke the deadlock in the 28th minute following another decent change of pace by Bishop in the number 10 area off the field. He laid the ball off 25 yards from goal and Pitman, after taking a touch in acres of space, hit a ferocious strike that arrowed beyond the keeper.
Moments later, Pitman almost scored again when he sent the ball onto the roof of the net with a clever, improvised flick of the boot following Kevin Bru’s low free-kick delivery from the right.
McCarthy changed his entire team at half-time and the wind really got up as the second half started.
It wasn’t until the 55th minute that the Blues created another good opening in the game, Andre Dozzell’s clever movement and reverse pass putting Freddie Sears away only for the striker to slip at the crucial moment.
With goalscoring chances at a premium, Town doubled their lead in the 62nd minute in scrappy fashion. England Under-17 international striker Ben Morris – who recently penned a professional deal on his 17th birthday – laid the ball off in a crowded box and somehow Sears squeezed an angled shot in at the near post.
Polish defender Piotr Malarczyk looked ponderous at the back, but fellow transfer-listed player Cameron Stewart had the odd decent moment. It was him who supplied the forward pass which led to home keeper Greg Murray turning a rising Sears effort over the bar in the 69th minute.
Stewart went close himself in the 73rd minute with a fine dipping shot from range which brushed the roof of the net to collective ‘oohs’ from the 100 or so travelling fans.
Shelbourne hadn’t produced a shot on target all game, but they halved the deficit in the 77th minute after Tommy Smith handled a cross in the box. Dylan Grimes sent Bartosz Bialkowski the wrong way from the spot.
McCarthy then replaced two academy graduates with two more in the 81st minute, New Zealand international Monty Paterson and former Arsenal youth teamer James Blanchfield replacing Morris and Dozzell.
First half: Gerken; Chambers, Digby, Berra, Robinson; Bishop, Skuse, Bru, McDonnell; Pitman, McLoughlin.
Second half: Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Smith, Knudsen; Dozzell (Blanchfield 81), Hyam, Douglas, Stewart; Sears, Morris (Patterson 81).