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Ipswich Town 1 v 0 Wycombe Wanderers
SkyBet League One
Wednesday, 29th December 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Ipswich Town 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers - Match Report
Wednesday, 29th Dec 2021 21:48

New manager Kieran McKenna’s first game in charge of the Blues ended in a 1-0 victory via James Norwood’s third goal in his last three games. The striker pounced to net from close range a minute before half-time with sub Conor Chaplin coming close to making it 2-0 when he hit the post in the dying seconds.

Vaclav Hladky returned in goal for Christian Walton as McKenna named an otherwise unchanged team.

Walton was absent from the 18 and understood to have had Covid with Tomas Holy on the bench. Hladky was making his first league appearance since the Cambridge match at the start of October.

Town, who arrived at Portman Road together on a coach, lined up in a 3-4-3 system as opposed to the 3-5-2 employed against Sunderland 11 days ago.

Luke Woolfenden was in the middle of the three centre-halves with George Edmundson on the left and Janoi Donacien the right.

Wes Burns and Matt Penney continued as the wing-backs with skipper Sam Morsy and Lee Evans in central midfield with Macauley Bonne the central striker with Norwood to his left and Sone Aluko the right.

For Wycombe, manager Gareth Ainsworth was absent having tested positive for Covid with assistant manager Richard Dobson and player-coach Matt Bloomfield, who is from Felixstowe and started his career with the Blues, taking charge from the dugout.

The Chairboys’ line-up included ex-Blues loanee David Stockdale, while former Town youngster Adam Przybek is the sub keeper.

New boss McKenna was introduced to the 26,456-strong crowd and given a standing ovation as he made his way to the dugout before the teams came out separately, Wycombe first, then the Blues. Meanwhile, new Town head of analysis, Charlie Turnbull, made his way to the camera gantry.

The sides took a knee to warm applause from the large Portman Road crowd before the game got under way with the Blues in control of the early stages.

Skipper Morsy struck the first shot of the McKenna era, looping an effort over from just outside the box after being teed-up by Burns after the Welshman had been unable to find space for a strike of his own.

Morsy was shown the game’s first yellow card in the ninth minute, a caution which looked a little harsh despite his challenge on Anthony Stewart having been a foul.

Penney joined his captain in the book on 11 after felling Jason McCarthy as the Wycombe wing-back broke into the area on the right chasing Sam Vokes’s flick. McCarthy fell well inside the area but referee Samuel Barrott deemed the foul to have taken place outside the box, which looked correct.

Chairboys fans called for a red card but it was difficult to see how the incident could have been viewed as an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Visitors’ skipper Joe Jacobson curled his free-kick into the wall.

There was another scare for the Blues two minutes later when Woolfenden just about managed to take the ball away from Brandon Hanlan on the edge of the box from another Vokes flick.

Despite those two incidents, it was still mainly Town and in the 17th minute they thought they’d gone ahead.

Burns fed Aluko on his right and the Nigerian international powered over a low ball which Bonne, without a goal in his previous nine games, tapped in at the far post only to see a linesman flag raised for offside.

Bonne thought his wait for a goal had come to an end again two minutes later when Morsy played wide to Burns, who sent over a cross which the striker powerfully headed towards goal only for Stockdale to bat it away.

In the 22nd minute, Morsy threaded in Bonne on the left of the box but Jacobson took the ball away from him. Norwood smashed the loose ball into the net from distance but with the linesman having indicated that Bonne had been offside.

A minute later, Hladky punched a ball nervously when under no pressure, before the ball was played back into the area and Chris Forino headed well wide.

From the goal-kick, Town almost played themselves into trouble but referee Barrott awarded a free-kick to the Blues for a David Wheeler foul on Evans inside the box.

Town were well on top with Wycombe camped inside their own area for lengthy periods. Centre-halves Donacien, Edmundson and Woolfenden had all made forays forward from the back, at times leaving their side a little short on numbers defensively.

The Blues were passing the ball around and keeping it for long spells but without being able to find a way through the Chairboys’ massed backline.

On 27 a Donacien run from the back ended with the defender hitting a rare shot from a tight angle which was blocked.

Just before the half-hour, Hladky required attention after colliding with Edmundson as the defender cut out a low cross from the left following a Wycombe break but was OK to continue.

Wycombe saw more of the ball for a short spell, Curtis Thompson volleying well into the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand after a corner had been cleared, then on 34 Norwood brought it in from the left before scraping a shot through to Stockdale, who was given little trouble.

On 43 Norwood reacted angrily to what he claimed was an elbow from Stewart and both players were spoken to by the referee before an Evans free-kick into the box was hooked away.

There was no doubt that Town had been the better side and a minute later they finally scored the first goal of the McKenna era.

Donacien sent a throw into the box to Bonne’s feet, the striker laid it off to Morsy, who scuffed a shot across the face as he broke towards goal, which Stockdale could only palm to Norwood, who couldn’t help but divert over the line from a few feet out.

The striker’s third goal in three league games was celebrated by virtually the entire Town team in front of an ecstatic Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

There was time for Penney to send a dangerous ball across the Wycombe area before the half-time whistle was greeted by applause and cheers with the Blues in possession in the Chairboys’ half and pushing for a second goal.

Town could be very happy with their first 45 minutes under their new boss. They had been on the front foot, had passed the ball around confidently, with their central defenders joining in the attacks, and looked for openings as the visitors retreated into the box, finally taking their opportunity through Norwood in the dying moments of the period.

Aside from a couple of moments of Blues hesitancy and miscommunication at the back, the Chairboys had hardly threatened.

Five minutes after the restart, Norwood out-battled Stewart for a bouncing ball a third of the way into the visitors’ half and Bonne chased it into the area before hitting a weak shot across the face and wide.

Hladky did well to punch from under his bar under a lot of pressure from a Wycombe free-kick in the 54th minute as the Chairboys threatened for the first time since the break.

Wycombe called for Morsy to be shown a second yellow card in the 58th minute when the Town captain sought to clear but caught Wheeler, who he hadn’t appeared to see running on to the ball. Despite vociferous protests in front of his face and some scuffling between the players, referee Barrott was content to just give a free-kick.

On the hour, Penney returned a corner from the right which had been cleared to Evans, who passed to Woolfenden in space on the edge of the box but the centre-half’s first touch let him down when he looked to have a good opportunity of a shot at goal.

A minute later, Evans’s excellent cross-field ball played in Norwood on the left of the area but the striker was unable to get a clean shot on it as it bounced and he was under pressure and his shot went the wrong side of the post.

For the first time Wycombe began to see more of the ball, but in the 69th minute, Aluko, again among Town’s top performers, sent Burns away and the Welshman played in Bonne as the striker made a run towards the right.

The on-loan QPR man steered the ball away from the advancing Stockdale and went to ground as they collided but referee Barrott waved away the Blues’ protests, probably correctly.

Wycombe swapped Thompson for Josh Scowen and Wheeler for Anis Mehmeti on 70 and might have levelled a minute later when Garath McCleary teed-up Hanlan inside the box from where the former Gillingham striker worked himself space before shooting well over. Hanlan will feel he should have done better.

In the 72nd minute, Town switched Aluko, who was given a big ovation by the Blues support as he left the pitch, for Chaplin.

Wycombe continued to take the game to the Blues, who were by now rarely pushing into the Chairboys’ half.

On 75, a Mehmeti shot from the right of the box looked to take two deflections before flying past Hladky’s right post. Following the resultant corner, which Hladky confidently punched well away from goal, Jacobson scuffed well wide.

Norwood made way for Tom Carroll in the 80th minute, the goalscorer receiving warm applause as he made his way to the touchline, then Wycombe brought on their talisman Adebayo Akinfenwa for Forino.

Portman Road was becoming a little nervy but the tension was relieved a little in the 8th minute when Bonne’s ball into the box was diverted over and out for a corner by Stewart. Bonne headed the flag-kick across goal but Morsy was penalised for a foul as he sought to knock it back to corner-taker Evans.

Wycombe should have equalised in the 88th minute. With Hladky being man-handled and unable to get off his line - as was the case with Walton for the Chairboys’ goal at Adams Park - the Blues were unable to clear McCarthy’s corner from the left and it reached Stewart, who shot over when it looked far easier to hit the target.

Bonne made way for Joe Pigott and was applauded off, having put in an all-action display despite taking his goal drought to 10 matches.

Scowen was booked for a foul on Chaplin as the game moved into five minutes of additional time, then Pigott joined him for kicking the ball away as Wycombe looked to take a free-kick.

Deep in injury time, a Blues clearance almost saw Burns and Chaplin away on goal with no Wycombe defenders to beat but Stockdale cleared.

Town came within a whisker of making it 2-0 moments later when Morsy made his way through a number of tackles and into the area before laying the ball to Chaplin to his left, whose shot across the keeper hit the post.

Burns took the conservative option with the loose ball of taking it into the corner and soon after, the final whistle confirmed a first three points in senior management for McKenna to loud cheers from the Portman Road faithful.

Town had deserved the win overall, but the second half was at times a more rearguard effort, although in the end the Blues could have won more comfortably.

The win, confirming Town’s first double of the season, sees the Blues stay 11th, 10 points off the Chairboys in the final play-off place ahead of Saturday’s home game against Lincoln, which is in doubt due to Covid cases at Sincil Bank.

Town: Hladky, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burns, Aluko (Chaplin 72), Evans, Morsy (c), Penney, Norwood (Carroll 80), Bonne. Unused: Holy, Nsiala, Fraser, Jackson, Pigott.

Wycombe: Stockdale, Jacobson (c), Stewart, Wheeler (Mehmeti 70), Thompson (Wheeler 70), Vokes, McCleary, Hanlan, Obita, McCarthy, Forino (Akinfenwa 81). Unused: Przybek, Grimmer, Horgan, De Barr. Referee: Sam Barrott (West Riding). Att: 26,456 (Wycombe: 634).

Photo: Action Images

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IpswichT62OldBoy added 21:50 - Dec 29
Great start, tactically sound, able to see a game out for the first time this decade.
Already we look more professional, this bodes well.

ShropshireBluenago09 added 21:51 - Dec 29
Noticeable difference was the attacking intent, every player pushing forward, even centre backs which was a joy to watch.
We also went forward as a team and defended as a team.
Thought Nors, Wolf and Morsy were best town players tonight, but all played their part.

Saxonblue74 added 21:52 - Dec 29
Well it was OK. Defended well at times but didn't create enough against a team set on spoiling the game. Good 3 points and a very winnable run of games coming up. Happy new year all, we deserve one surely??!!

bixleyboy added 21:52 - Dec 29
A hard fought win to build on and 3 precious points, hopefully Lincoln is not called off Saturday and we can build some momentum.

TimmyH added 21:52 - Dec 29
Great to see Kieran get a debut win but it was a pretty scrappy affair with not much between the 2 sides (again) with us playing largely on the break, long balls or from defenders unexpectedly running towards Wycombe's goal but I suppose there is more to winning than just passing passages. Issue for me is how poor we are in midfield when we don't have the ball, Wycombe had a lot of the territory.

At least a good start for Kieran and hopefully a good omen.

aas1010 added 21:52 - Dec 29
Onwards and upwards . Well done Kieran and well done all. 100% record for new boss

Buryblue78 added 21:52 - Dec 29
Great start KM
Good to see a team playing football beat a team playing hoofball

DifferentGravy added 21:54 - Dec 29
Yes! Well done lads. Keep getting the players driving forward (wouldnt have minded seeing Wolfie or Edmundson driving into the box) and snuff out the silly errors passing around at the back. Good team effort and desire. COYB

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 21:54 - Dec 29
Big improvement both individually and as a team in terms of consistency of performance. Although Wycombe tried hard, we contained them well and limited them to only one real chance second half. Many passages of good play from us and with a bit of luck, we could have had another two ourselves. Early days, but I see evidence of planning and commitment. COYB!

fizzyblue added 21:57 - Dec 29
Well we were certainly more robust after going 1:0 up that’s for sure! I really like the way K-Mck put his arm around and gave his players personal messages after the game. That speaks volumes for me. I know it’s early but I’m feeling quietly positive about this appointment.

BromleyBloo added 21:58 - Dec 29

We didn’t play great, but okay and pretty much deserved to shade it I think.

Now build - onward and upward, with a few Jan additions.


chopra777 added 22:00 - Dec 29
Good start for KM . A good game to watch. A few good things have been learnt on the training ground .Morsey has found extra space and the backs are pushing up at every opportunity. Wolfie was good value tonight. Wycombe are a good side and we battled to keep them out. Three points in the bag onwards and upwards.

howsey51 added 22:01 - Dec 29
Retire now KM. 100% win record as a manager. Get in.

istanblue added 22:02 - Dec 29
Manager wins first game: tick
Norwood banging them in: tick
Stay strong to see out a game: tick
Beat a top 6 side: tick
Keep a clean sheet: tick

New era, new Ipswich!

TractorFrog added 22:03 - Dec 29
Great atmosphere at the end, and great performance by the team.

johnwarksshorts added 22:03 - Dec 29
Good win, well done KM 👏, not a great game by any means but we worked hard and looked more solid in defence. I'd like to give John McGreal a mention for bringing in Norwoid and playing two up front which KM has continued with. Hope Lincoln game isn't called off.

BangaloreBlues added 22:05 - Dec 29
Only 26,000 +
Shocking! :-)
Great crowd, great start, maybe things are looking up after all.
Happy New Year to everyone.

Fat_Boy_Tim added 22:07 - Dec 29
F'ing horrible Wickham anti-football has yielded 0 points against us this season. Clearly not enough teams have manned up against them this season because it's horrible to watch but puts you under pressure. Well done town for seeing them off, I sincerely hope those are the 6 points that see us one point ahead of them in 6th place at the end of the season, that would be sweet as. As for the game, I liked the three CB's running through with the ball, they did seem like they need a plan from that point because we looked like we didn't quite know what the next pass should be but as least we were up the park. One of the best achievements of the evening was Morsey not getting sent off but the serious plaudits should go to: Woolfenden and Edmundson for just battling all night. Donacien for his control and pushing on, Hladky for overcoming what must have been massive nerves and making several really important clearances, Aluko for just looking like he always knew where to find a pass and very rarely losing the ball and Evans for collecting difficult balls under pressure and finding a pass about 20 times. This was the toughest game we will have out of the next 6 so if we can get something going, then who knows. COYB's

TimmyH added 22:07 - Dec 29
Wycombe a good side?...some how making it to the Championship and then being dumped back down doesn't make them good perhaps just well coached with a consistent plan how to play. Tonight was the most dominant I've seen them play against us since we've been in the third tier - they do like to get players forward asap by any means.

A close game which many of our games are...1st half clear intent by KM to get the defenders pressing forwards which could be seen and as a whole defended fairly well.

Billericay12 added 22:08 - Dec 29
Better game management and thought we defended well. Not pretty to watch but hard to play attractive football against a team like Wycombe. A little tweak in the January transfer window and a winning run and who knows. Atmosphere was great tonight. We may have to scrap our way out of this league and then think about some quality football.

BontyBlue added 22:09 - Dec 29
Fantastic result. Great start for the McKenna era. One comment above looked interesting Town ‘arrived at Portman Road together on a coach’. Would they have come straight from the training ground? Is this a way to focus minds and create togetherness ahead of a game? Not familiar with this approach but may just be out of touch.

BlueandTruesince82 added 22:09 - Dec 29
Nice to see Phil dealing with the big questions of the week, Town did arrive on a coach.

Good result, COYB

FrankMarshall added 22:18 - Dec 29
Great result and well done team.

Good start by the new manager.

algarvefan added 22:19 - Dec 29
Not the best game or performance this season, we did well to hang on, but still a way to go to get to the level I believe we are capable of.
My big shout outs go to Woolfenden, I thought he was superb tonight and is growing in stature with every game he plays. Morsy, he ran the show and James Norwood for effort.

Carroll however is another story.

wiltshireblue added 22:20 - Dec 29
I'm loving the application and effort tonight. Not the prettiest but a number of players running their socks off, getting back and fighting as a team. That in itself has been absent far too long imho.

The prettier performances will come but what a confidence booster to keep a clean sheet when playing as a team like that

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