Tranmere Rovers 1-2 Ipswich Town: Downes and Jackson net as Lambert’s men turn it around in tough conditions at Prenton Park
Ipswich Town showed their battling qualities as they came from behind to win at Tranmere in difficult conditions.
The playing surface, subject of much conversation in the build-up to the game passed a morning pitch inspection and the game went ahead despite large sandy areas down both wings and sticky mud patches in the middle of the field.
The visitors trailed at half-time after Manny Monthe headed home a free-kick from the right but the Blues, who were on top for most of the afternoon, produced an excellent turnaround.
Flynn Downes started it, as he headed home a pinpoint Luke Garbutt cross, before Kayden Jackson produced an excellent winner as he superbly met an exquisite ball from substitute James Norwood through-ball to lob the home goalkeeper and send some away supporters spilling onto the pitch in celebration.
There were some nervous moments but solid defensive performances from Luke Chambers and James Wilson in particular saw Ipswich through, with the Blues' success leving them third in the table after long-time leaders Wycombe Wanderers remined second with a last-gasp victory over Rochdale.
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Lambert made one chance to his side, leaving James Norwood on the bench for his big return to the side he fired to promotion last season and bringing Kayden Jackson back into the team after he missed the draw at Oxford with a tight hamstring.
It was a slug fest from the off, with bouncing balls dying on the heavy turf and neither side able to really get it under control, before Emyr Huws had the first chance for the visitors as he kept his shot low on 16 minutes and forced a decent save from returning goalkeeper Scott Davies.
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Both sides huffed and puffed in tough conditions, with Ipswich doing their best to get it down and play before their next chance arrived in the shape of a Will Keane overhead kick as he chested Luke Garbutt's scuffed shot up for himself before turning acrobatically straight at Davies.
Ipswich were on top but, just as the visiting fans began taunting the home crowd with chants of 'you're going down', the Blues were behind. It came from a Jake Caprice cross from the right and was scored by the head of giant central defender Monthe as he rose above Luke Chambers and Emyr Huws to nod into Norris's net.
Veteran centre-half Peter Clarke then lashed wide for the hosts, whose tails were up as we headed into half-time.
The same 11 Ipswich players emerged after the interval and were level within 10 minutes of the restart. It was an excellent goal when it came, with it's origin a Chambers cross-field ball which ultimately ended up at the feet of Keane as Tranmere allowed the striker to drive towards goal. But in doing so they hadn't reckoned for Garbutt's run as the Everton loanee overlapped before delivering a teasing cross which Downes met superbly to head into the back of the net.
Ipswich were by far the dominant side by now, with the hosts showing little attacking intent before the Blues introduced Norwood from the bench to a smattering of boos.
Jackson then had two quick chances, with Clarke and Monthe producing good blocks, but the speedy striker wasn't to be denied for long.
Norwood's ball made it, as he clipped an excellent pass in behind the Tranmere defence before Jackson superbly lifted the ball over the top of the on-rushing Davies and into the back of the net.
Travelling fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate as their side did what was needed on a difficult afternoon.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies; Caprice, Monthe, Clarke, Ridehalgh; Perkins (Blackett-Taylor, 84), Danns (Banks, 71), Woodyard; Morris, Ferrier, Jennings
Subs: Pilling, Nelson, Gilmour, Payne, Mullin
Ipswich Town: Norris; Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden; Edwards, Garbutt, Huws (Skuse, 77), Downes, Judge (Bishop, 65); Keane (Norwood, 72), Jackson
Subs: Holy, Earl, Nolan, Sears