U23s Come From Behind to Beat Crewe
Monday, 14th Aug 2017 15:55 by Blair Ferguson
Town’s U23s fought back from two goals down to beat Crewe Alexandra 3-2 in their opening fixture of the Professional Development League Two South season, Chris Smith (pictured), Ben Folami and Conor McKendry scoring the Blues’ goals after Lewis Reilly had given the visitors a lead that Owen Dale doubled on the half-hour mark.
Luke Hyam made a long-awaited return from injury in the match, making it through the first half before being replaced by Corrie Ndaba. The central midfielder, as would be expected, looked some way off the pace due to a lack of match fitness.
AFC Sudbury defender Tyler French was also in the starting line-up, having previously spent time on trial with the Blues last season when he featured for the U18s and U23s.
The 18-year-old ex-Long Melford, Hadleigh United youngster, who caught the eye of plenty of league clubs in England and Scotland last season, also had a stint on trial at Leicester in the summer.
It was Ipswich that started the stronger of the sides and within seven minutes had rattled the post. McKendry played Monty Patterson through on goal, but the New Zealand international’s decision to take an extra touch narrowed the angle, contributing to his shot firing off the post and back across goal.
The rebound fell to the feet of Patterson, but his effort did little to trouble Crewe as it went harmlessly wide.
Charlie Kirk’s lofted freekick from the left wing was measured perfectly for Reilly to connect with, and the header flew high past Ipswich keeper Harry Wright, and into the right side of the goal.
A quiet 25-minute period followed before Crewe struck again. A quick attacking move saw Dale put through on goal and his low driven shot was too much for Wright at his near post, as he couldn’t get enough on it to stop it powering past him.
The impressive James Blanchfield, playing his first game after an injury lay-off, clipped the ball across the box and Smith rose highest to head it past David Richards, giving his side a way back into the game.
An equaliser looked likely straight from the restart as Patterson brought the ball down in the opposition area, using his strength to make space for a shot. However, the eventual effort was somewhat reminiscent of his earlier strike and did little harm as it bounced wide.
Ipswich continued to pressure the Crewe backline and only a fantastic clearance from Zolhana Bakayogo prevented a cross from trialist French - who never looked out of place without particularly standing out - finding someone in a blue shirt.
The resulting corner was also cleared off the line following Ndaba’s header towards the back post.
The visitors weren’t without a threat despite the growing Ipswich dominance, and Dale had Wright reaching backwards to tip his dinked effort over, even though a goal-kick was given by referee Josh Smith.
That decision played in Town's favour the Blues immediately going down the other end and drawing level. Folami made no mistake in finding the bottom left corner with his right foot, getting the goal his energetic performance deserved.
Parity should have been a short lived when a miscommunication between Wright and a defender left Daniel Udoh free to head in from a yard out, only for the striker to divert over.
That slice of luck was capitalised on by Town who completed their comeback with just less than 20 minutes remaining. McKendry found space on the edge of the area and hit a well-measured bouncing effort across goal and into the right of the net.
Further distance could have been put between the sides, but McKendry headed over from close range when a goal looked like the only outcome.
Wright was quick off his line to get down at the feet of Udoh in the closing 15 minutes of the game, staving off the last major threat from Crewe before the match drew to a close.
U23s: Wright, French, Webber, Blanchfield, Fowler, Smith, Patterson, Hyam (Ndaba 46), Folami, McLoughlin, McKendry. Unused: Marshall, Egan, Ndaba, McGavin, Wilton.
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