Sears Continues Comeback as Cotter Nets Winner for U23s
Monday, 16th Dec 2019 15:50 by Blair Ferguson
Freddie Sears completed another hour on his return from injury as Barry Cotter’s stunning second-half volley saw Ipswich Town’s U23s come from behind to beat Crystal Palace U23s 2-1 at Playford Road.
Ipswich looked to be in trouble when Palace went ahead in the seventh minute, but they continued their good attacking play to find a leveller through Armando Dobra before Cotter showed some individual class to volley in a winner 17 minutes from time.
Sears started wide on the left as he continued his comeback from an ACL injury along with Ben Morris and Grant Ward, who both played 90 minutes,
Ward, who was released in the summer is continuing his recovery from his injury with the Blues, began the game at right-back before moving to the wing on the hour mark.
Despite Town starting well and showing positive signs with quick attacking passes, it was Palace who took the lead. A ball across the box found Jason Lokilo in space and he took a touch before firing the ball across goal into the bottom left corner.
The visitors stepped up their attacking intent in the 11th minute and broke on the counter following an Ipswich freekick, but with players in black shirts waiting for the ball from the left went straight to Adam Przybek in the Ipswich goal.
But in the 15th minute, Town’s quick passing paid off. After some build-up, Dobra played the ball to Ben Folami on the edge of the box who in turn played a sharp pass into the area. A fortunate touch off a Palace player saw it fall to Dobra who calmly placed it into the bottom right corner.
Ipswich continued to press the visitors with Ndaba squandering a good chance from a corner and Morris scuffing a similar opportunity from a corner after the ball rolled towards him in the box.
It was 10 minutes before the break until Palace started to threaten again. Przybek had to be alert to push away a dangerous cross at the near post and had to display equally quick reactions to tip a shot over from the edge of the area.
There was a chance for Ipswich to go into half-time in front when Folami headed a high ball into the path of Sears who broke towards goal and attempted to poke the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper, but Dion Curtis-Henry’s outstretched leg block the effort.
Ipswich made an identically quick start to the second half with Morris’s low ball across the box finding Sears unmarked at the back post, with him unable to guide in from a tight angle.
A teasing Ward cross required a great clearance to take it away from danger before Brett McGavin dragged a shot wide of the left post moments later.
The best chance of the second half then fell for Idris El Mizouni in the 52nd minute. A well-pitched cross from Sears floated into the path of the Tunisia international, who sent a header flying goalwards. However, it cannoned off the bar and away from danger.
Just as in the first half, Palace began to come back into the match after a slow start. Przybek did well to get down to his left to push away Giovanni McGregor’s stinging right-foot shot from inside the box, and a simple back post header was put wide by Palace on the hour mark.
The chances started to dry up for both sides, and it was almost 15 minutes before the next opportunity. Throughout the game, El Mizouni had looked for a near post runner at corners with little joy, but in the 73rd minute, Cotter moved forward unopposed and sent a right-foot volley with the inside of his foot flying into the Palace net to give Ipswich the lead.
Ten minutes later, the Irishman came close to replicating his goal, but the Palace defence managed to block the effort as it headed towards the net.
Before this game, Sears expressed his desire to be involved in Saturday’s first-team squad to face Portsmouth, and his 60-minute display suggested he is working his way towards that.
The former West Ham and Colchester man missed two good chances on goal which would undoubtedly be down to a forgivable lack of match sharpness, but the rest of his performance was energetic and didn’t look as though he was holding back.
The win is the U23s’ first in four attempts and sees them leapfrog Crystal Palace into eighth place in the Professional Development League Two South table.
U23s: Przybek, Ward, McGavin, Ndaba, Cotter, Hughes (K Brown 83), Dobra, El Mizouni, Morris, Folami, Sears (Smith 61'. Unused: Alley, Scott, Gibbs.
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