Rochdale 0-1 Ipswich Town: Rowe’s first Blues goal is enough to send Lambert’s men top once again
Ipswich Town are back on top of League One after grinding out three points at Rochdale.
Danny Rowe scored the only goal of the game, midway through the second period, as the winger's clever run saw him beat Rochdale goalkeeper Jay Lynch to a bouncing ball to win the game for Paul Lambert's side.
The hosts had the better of an opening period in which Ipswich struggled for forward momentum but hit the woodwork twice, through Lukes Woolfenden and Garbutt, before the visitors stepped things up after the interval.
It wasn't always pretty but the visitors did enough to claim the points, with Will Norris ultimately having a quiet night between the Ipswich posts.
The win puts the Blues back ahead of second-placed Wycombe on goal difference, still with a game in hand on the Chairboys.
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Lambert was boosted by the availability of Cole Skuse, whose involvement had been in some doubt due to a groin injury sustained at Southend, with Jon Nolan joining him in the centre of midfield in one of two changes made by Lambert. The other saw Alan Judge start on the left side of midfield in a 4-4-2.
Gwion Edwards moved from the wing to right-back, in the absence of Kane Vincent-Young, and the Welshman was in the thick of the action throughout the first half.
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In the lead-up to this game he admitted his favoured position was on the left wing and he was tested both in the air and on the ground, with Rochdale looking to drop balls in behind down the Ipswich right.
Luke Garbutt and Kayden Jackson had snatched efforts early on before Rochdale had the first serious opening of the game, with Matt Done's cross from the left connecting with Callum Camps, only for the forward's header to bounce behind off Garbutt's heel.
Camps had Ipswich goalkeeper Norris, who had kept his place ahead of Tomas Holy, worried as he let fly with a 25-yard effort which just flew wide.
The hosts were having much the better of the play, popping the ball around nicely in attacking areas, but it was Town who came closest with a pair of woodwork-rattling efforts.
The first came from Luke Woolfenden, who rose highest to meet Judge's corner and head against the post, before Garbutt left the bar shaking with an effort right on half-time.
Rochdale began the second half with an wild attempt at goal straight from kick-off, with Aaron Morley not testing Norris, but it was Ipswich who were soon ahead.
Edwards was the source, with his ball from the right causing confusion between Rochdale defenders Paul McShane and Eoghan O'Connell which allowed Rowe to steal in and beat goalkeeper Jay Lynch to finish.
It perhaps should have been two, with Woolfenden not able to generate enough power to head Garbutt's corner on target, after the latter had forced a save from Lynch following another skidding free-kick.
Judge was the next to threaten, with a thunderous effort fumbled away by Lynch, but Rowe's effort was enough as Town left with the points after six minutes of added time.
It remains to be seen when Ipswich will next be in league action. Next up are an FA Cup clash with Lincoln and an EFL Trophy battle with Colchester, before a league visit to Oxford which is likely to be postponed due to international call-ups. After that it's a home game with Blackpool on November 23.
Rochdale: Lynch; Matheson, O'Connell, McShane (Tavares 70), Keohane; Williams, Pyke (Andrew 75), Morley (Ryan 66), Done, Henderson, Camps
Subs: McLaughlin, Wade, Bradley, Hopper
Ipswich Town: Norris, Edwards, Woolfenden, Chambers, Garbutt; Skuse, Nolan, Rowe (Georgiou 81), Judge (Dozzell 88); Norwood (Keane 81), Jackson
Subs: Holy, Wilson, Kenlock, Huws
Att: 3,150 (906 Ipswich fans)