Ipswich Town 2-1 Bristol Rovers - Match Report
Friday, 2nd Apr 2021 17:03
An opening minute Luke Leahy own goal and Alan Judge's fourth of the season saw the Blues to a 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at Portman Road, Luke McCormick netting for the Gas. Leahy unluckily diverted into his own net after 48 seconds, Judge added the second on 11, before McCormick brought the Gas back into the game on 18.
Town boss Paul Cook made two changes with Kayden Jackson and Luke Woolfenden coming into the side
Cook was forced into one of those changes with Kane Vincent-Young picking up a hamstring injury on his return at Wigan last week. Woolfenden, his replacement from the bench at the DW Stadium, came in on the right of a back three.
Stephen Ward and Gwion Edwards were the wing-backs with Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop behind Alan Judge in midfield.
The Blues boss had been weighing-up whether to move away from his preferred 4-2-3-1 system in recent weeks and finally took the plunge with Jackson starting alongside James Norwood in a front two - for the first time since February last year - with Freddie Sears dropping to the bench. Bristol Rovers started former Town youngster Ed Upson in their midfield.
Town took the lead in only the 47th second in more than slightly fortuitous circumstances. Jackson and two defenders had gone to ground as they challenged inside the area to the right. David Totunda cleared against Edwards, the ball looping off the Welshman, and then Gas skipper Leahy’s out-stretched leg before crossing the line off the inside of the post.
In the 11th minute Town went 2-0 in front. After the ball had been cleared, Dozzell struck a volley from 25 yards which struck Pablo Martinez and deflected to Judge, who hit his first effort against George Williams. The ball fell kindly for the Irishman, who struck a second low effort past Anssi Jaakkola in the visitors’ goal, his fourth of the campaign.
After their nightmare start, Bristol Rovers began to see more of the ball and in the 18th minute they pulled a goal back.
Jonah Ayunga dispossessed Andre Dozzell midway inside the Town half and fed Luke McCormick, who took the ball on to the edge of the box and chipped the advanced Tomas Holy. It was a goal which was very preventable from a Town perspective.
The Blues were knocked off their stride having conceded and looked distinctly shaky with Rovers on top and looking for a leveller. On 22 Ayunga chased a ball behind the Blues’ backline, beat Holy to it and was sent flying by the keeper just outside the area to the right.
Holy was booked for his challenge - Rovers felt the Czech might have seen red - with the free-kick coming to nothing. A subsequent free-kick from 25 yards out to the left was smashed into the wall, then moments later McCormick shot wide.
Town had shown little threat since their second goal but just before the half hour, Norwood turned Judge’s low free-kick from the right past the post when he will feel he ought to have done better.
The Blues continued to look nervous on the ball, giving possession away all too regularly, with Rovers presenting the greater threat and in the 38th minute they should have equalised. Zain Walker crossed low from the right and an unmarked McCormick hit his shot the wrong side of Holy’s left post.
On 41 Ayunga hit a low shot from distance from the right that the Town keeper dealt with comfortably, then three minutes later Walker shot into Holy’s arms from the right.
Rovers continued to look the more threatening side in the two additional minutes with the Blues never really having recovered from conceding their goal.
After a perfect and to a significant degree fortunate start, Town were in a position to comfortably beat the lowly visitors but an unforced error led to the Rovers goal with the Blues not able to regain control of the game and by the end of the half were struggling to prevent the visitors from grabbing a leveller.
Town boss Cook was forced into a change at the start of the second half with top scorer Norwood making way for Aaron Drinan.
The Blues started the half much as they had ended the second with a Toto Nsiala error allowing Ayunga a run at goal and a shot which failed to trouble Holy.
On 51 Upson struck an effort from distance straight at the Town keeper, then a minute later Bishop struck a low shot through to Jaakkola in the Rovers goal.
In the 55th minute Judge’s free-kick from the left was punched out by Jaakkola but only as far as Edwards on the right of the area, but his low goal-bound shot was blocked by Williams. A minute later, a Drinan shot deflected wide off Martinez.
Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton switched Tutonda for Zain Westbrooke on the hour mark before Bishop, comfortably Town’s most threatening player, burst into the area on the right and sent over a low cross which was cleared.
Three minutes later, McCormick scraped a shot wide from just inside the area after Nsiala had slipped.
Drinan was booked following an aerial challenge with Jack Baldwin on 65, before Jackson, who had had a quiet afternoon, was swapped for Troy Parrott.
Referee Stephen Martin spoke to Drinan for a second time following a clash with Baldwin in the 69th minute with the Bristol Rovers man appearing to have instigated the collision on both occasions before making an awful lot of the contact.
Two minutes later, with Town beginning to look more dangerous, Edwards crossed from the right, and keeper Jaakkola’s punch fell to Judge, who shot over.
The Pirates replaced Walker with Erhun Oztumer on 72 then four minutes later Brandon Hanlan shot across the face with more of the game being played in the Town half.
On 83 skipper Luke Chambers flicked a near-post head from a Judge corner on the left onto the roof of the net.
Four minutes later, the Blues switched Bishop, who had just undergone treatment on the pitch, for Josh Harrop.
Two minutes later, Armando Dobra replaced Judge, while Rovers switched Josh for Upson and Josh Barrett for Ayunga.
Moments before referee Martin ended the afternoon’s proceedings, Harrop shot wide from distance.
Having looked on their way to a comfortable win following their two early goals, the Blues in the end little more than crept over the line to the second victory of the Cook era.
Having conceded, Town again showed their shakiness when things start to go wrong and Rovers could well have been level before the break.
In the second half, there were few real chances at either end as Town huffed and puffed as they have in so many of their recent games. The change of system seemed to change the overall manner of the performance little. Rovers, who remain second bottom, will feel they should have taken a point from the match.
But the win sees Town climb to ninth in the table with the gap to the top six down a point to two with nine games remaining and a visit to rock bottom Rochdale on Monday.
Town: Holy, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Edwards, Dozzell, Bishop (Harrop 87), Ward, Judge (Dobra 89), Jackson (Parrott 66), Norwood (Drinan 46). Unused: Cornell, McGuinness, Sears.
Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola, Leahy (c), Upson (Hare 89), Hanlan, McCormick, Tutonda (Westbrooke 60), Baldwin, Walker (Oztumer 71), Ayunga (Barrett 89), Martinez, Williams. Unused: Day, Little, Daly. Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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