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Ipswich Town 4-3 Blackburn Rovers - Match Report
Saturday, 23rd Sep 2023 17:14

Massimo Luongo’s 79th minute goal saw Town beat Blackburn Rovers 4-3 and back up to second in the Championship after a pulsating, end-to-end clash at Portman Road. Harry Clarke gave the Blues the lead with his first goal for the club on four but Blackburn debutant Arnor Sigurdsson levelled five minutes later. Nathan Broadhead restored Town’s lead on 18 and George Hirst made it 3-1 against his old club seven minutes later before Rovers hit back after the break through Leonard and Szmodics on 52 and 65 before Luongo’s decisive strike 11 minutes from the end.

Town boss Kieran McKenna made three changes from the team which won 1-0 at Southampton in midweek with Leif Davis, Luongo and Broadhead all back in the XI.

Davis returned to training following the ankle injury he suffered at Sheffield Wednesday last week yesterday and was fit enough to resume his role at left-back with Brandon Williams dropping to the bench.

Luongo was back in the middle of midfield with Jack Taylor among the subs, while Nathan Broadhead returned to the left of the attacking quartet with Omari Hutchinson, the scorer of the winning goal at St Mary’s on his full league debut, also among the subs.

For Blackburn, Icelandic international midfielder Sigurdsson was handed his debut for Ryan Hedges, who was a sub, their only change from the team which lost 3-1 at home to Sunderland on Wednesday.

Town won a corner in the opening minute which was cleared and following which Blackburn ended up attacking.

Clarke played back to Vaclav Hladky but the keeper’s pass out failed to find Sam Morsy and landed at Adam Wharton’s feet. He played in Harry Leonard towards the right of the box and Hladky rushed over to intercept. Leonard went to ground claiming he’d been fouled but referee Keith Stroud and his assistant gave a goal-kick.

Three minutes later, the Blues took the lead. After a Davis shot from the left of the box had been palmed behind by Rovers keeper Aynsley Pears, Cameron Burgess flicked the flag-kick up in the air and it was half-cleared to Conor Chaplin at the back of the area on the right.

The forward’s shot was blocked but the rebound fell loose to Clarke on the edge of the box from where the right-back smashed a shot into the top corner of the net. The defender wildly celebrated his first goal for his hometown club as fans serenaded the goalscorer as “one of our own”.

But Town’s lead wasn’t to last for long. In the ninth minute Rovers passed their way through the Blues on the left of the area, debutant Sigurdsson receiving the final ball from Sammie Szmodics before deftly stroking the ball across Hladky and into the net.

The Blues’ rhythm didn’t appear to be unduly upset by conceding and in the 14th minute, Chaplin wasn’t far away from restoring the lead, taking down a ball over the top at pace and stabbing goalwards, however, the advancing Pears was able to block.

And in the 18th minute they scored their second. Pears was only able to find Chaplin as he cleared having advanced to the edge of his area under pressure from former Blackburn loanee Hirst.

The former Portsmouth man found Broadhead with his first touch and the Welshman took it down, looked up and shot into the corner of the net from 25 yards with Pears having only just got back in his ground to claim his fourth goal of the season, making him Town’s current highest scorer.

A pulsating opening 20 minutes had been mainly Town but Blackburn quickly threatened again, once more down their left flank, Sigurdsson turning Harry Pickering’s low ball straight at Hladky when an inch or two either side of the Czech and he would have scored.

But four minutes later, it was 3-1. Burgess played a defence-splitting ball for Hirst, who gleefully burst into the area and slipped through Pears’s to claim his second goal of the season before celebrating in front of his old fans after a tough half-season loan spell at Ewood Park last season in which he failed to find the net.

A minute after extending their advantage to two goals, there was a big scare for the Blues. Hladky played a loose pass inside his area straight to Lewis Travis but recovers quickly to dive at the Rovers skipper’s feet to snatch the ball back.

However, after that Town’s third goal saw the game’s impetus flow more towards the Blues, who were playing with ever-more confidence and fluidity, while Rovers appeared somewhat shell-shocked at having conceded three times.

Just before the half hour, Broadhead beat two men on the left of the box and the ball looped off a defender to Pears above Chaplin on the edge of the six-yard box.

Town continued to dominate and look for a fourth, Andy Moran tripping Chaplin just outside the area on 34 as the Blues forward was shaping to shoot. Chaplin’s free-kick was blasted into the wall.

The Blues maintained the pressure, Burns eventually shooting well wide after Rovers had been unable to clear.

The visitors began to play themselves back into the game, however, and on 39 Leonard sent a dangerous low ball across the Town box from the right beyond Hladky but too far away from any teammates.

Two minutes later, Sigurdsson was booked for a frustrated late tackle on Burns in front of the dugouts.

Following the free-kick, Davis looped a cross in from the left and Broadhead’s back header looped well into the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand.

Town continued to pass the ball around as slickly as at any time this season, Broadhead, Davis and Luongo combining to win a corner on the left. The left-back sent over the flag-kick and Chaplin’s goalbound header deflected wide off two defenders.

The subsequent corner was taken short and Luongo, who earlier had made a couple of sublime sliding challenges in midfield to stop Blackburn in their tracks, brought the ball in from the left before feeding Clarke.

The right-back feinted to shoot, then took the ball into the right of the area before cutting back inside and hitting a shot across goal and only just past the angle of post and bar.

In the half’s final scheduled minute, Broadhead went even closer, hitting a shot from 20 yards which had Pears beaten but scuffed the outside of the keeper’s left post.

Town were warmly applauded off at the end of a rip-roaring, humdinger of a first half. Having taken the lead with their first serious effort of the game, a brilliant first goal for the club by Clarke, Blackburn carved out an excellent leveller.

But, as has been the case in previous games this season, the Blues didn’t allow conceding to cause them any concern and they quickly restored their lead via Broadhead, whose clinical, accurate finish was set up by Chaplin’s awareness and precision pass.

Hirst delightedly took his opportunity to score against his old club to put daylight between the Blues and Rovers, and Town really should have increased their lead after that having dominated the visitors, playing as well as at any time this season.

Blackburn made two changes ahead of the restart, Tyrhys Dolan replacing Moran and Hedges taking over from Sigurdsson.

Town started the second half as they had ended the first. Within seconds of the restart, Clarke found Hirst on the left of the edge of the box, the striker laying off to Broadhead, who worked himself space before hitting a low shot which Pears saved down to his left. The loose ball was stabbed away from lurking Burns for a corner.

From the flag-kick, Burgess got his head on the ball but it flicked away across the face but beyond the diving Chaplin. Australian international Burgess claimed he’d been fouled with his case helped by the fact that his defender still had his shirt in his grasp while he was unsuccessfully trying to persuade referee Keith Stroud to give a penalty.

Three minutes after the restart, skipper Morsy was shown his fifth yellow card of the season for a foul on Szmodics. As a result, the Egyptian international will be suspended for next week’s trip to Huddersfield.

Blackburn began to get on top and on 50 sub Dolan was found in space in the area and really should have scored by Hladky spread himself to divert the ball behind. A minute later, Callum Brittain’s shot following a corner was blocked.

But a second Rovers goal wasn’t too long in coming. Brittain floated a high ball into the box from the right over Burgess and Leonard headed past Hladky as he battled with Clarke, who might have got the final touch.

Rovers sub Hedges lasted only nine minutes, pulling up with a hamstring injury before being replaced by Dilan Markanday.

The visitors would have had a third in the 57th minute, Pickering crossing from the left and Leonard looping a header towards the top corner but Hladky got across to his right to palm the ball away.

Hirst joined his skipper in the referee’s book just before the hour after shooting over the bar after referee Stroud had harshly given a decision against him on the edge of the area. Given the noise around Portman Road, it was doubtful Hirst had heard the whistle.

Town, who had been rather lacklustre since their bright opening to the half, made a double change on the hour mark, Hutchinson and Williams replacing Burns and Clarke.

The on-loan Chelsea man quickly made an impression, bursting down the right and shooting from a tight angle.

Two minutes later, Hayden Carter was booked for a foul on Hutchinson, then on 64 the sub threatened again on the right, forcing Pears into another save. Moments later, Chaplin’s strike from outside the area was blocked.

But a minute later, with the game by now ridiculously open, Rovers got back on terms, one-time Colchester man Szmodics holding off Williams and looping a left-footed shot beyond Hladky and into the corner of the net.

With the game increasingly resembling a basketball match, Town looked to restore their lead for a third time, Williams crossing for Hirst but the striker’s header was too high.

A minute later, a Broadhead strike from distance struck a defender and looped over the bar. Soon after, Travis was yellow-carded for a foul on the Wales international.

On 74, Chaplin was cautioned for a foul, then a minute later Hladky pounced on a loose ball in the six-yard box from a low cross from the right.

Both sides were looking like they could score from every attack with both defences being pulled one way and then the other.

Town made another two changes with Marcus Harness taking over from Chaplin and Dane Scarlett from Hirst, who will have been pleased with his afternoon’s work - and particularly his goal - against his old club.

And the sub was involved as the Blues grabbed their fourth goal of the game. After Hutchinson had twisted and turned on the right of the area, Harness clipped a ball into the box, it was cleared to Luongo on the edge of the area where he the Australian took it down on his chest before lashing into the top corner of the net to send Portman Road wild.

Town should have had a fifth as the game moved into its final 10 minutes, Hutchinson having robbed Dominic Hyam before bursting through on goal. The former Arsenal youngster took it wide of Pears to the left but not far enough and the keeper was able to block.

On 83, the Blues swapped Broadhead for Taylor, moments after Rovers had switched Semir Telalovic for Leonard and Joe Rankin-Costello for Brittain.

Town continued to look for a fifth goal, perhaps leaving themselves a little too open at times, although by no means as open as earlier in the half.

In the penultimate scheduled minute, prior to the fourth official indicating seven additional minutes, both Harness and Taylor saw shots blocked from promising positions in the area.

Davis went down requiring treatment on the right ankle which he damaged last week at Sheffield Wednesday with the Blues having used all their subs.

Deep in injury time, Carter looped a shot from distance well over the bar following a corner, easing the nerves around Portman Road.

At the whistle there was a palpable sigh of relief from Town supporters as well as a loud cheer as the Blues confirmed their seventh win out of eight since their return to the Championship.

In truth, Town should have been home and hosed much earlier in the afternoon, having had chances to seal the win at 3-1.

Blackburn’s second goal, poorly defended by the Blues, opened the door for a comeback and Szmodics’s strike came at a time when Town were out of sorts, perhaps tiring after two lengthy trips this week and their exertions in those two tough away victories.

But the substitutions reinvigorated Kieran McKenna’s side even if the game was way too open in the spell before Luongo’s well-taken goal sealed three points which take Town back up to second, only behind new leaders Leicester on goal difference with Preston down to third having drawn 1-1 at Rotherham.

The Blues last won seven of their first eight in the league in 1980/81, widely regarded as the best season in the club's history, when Sir Bobby Robson's side recorded seven wins and a draw rather than the current team's seven victories and one defeat.

Town are next in action in the Carabao Cup third round at Portman Road on Tuesday when the face Wolves with a visit to Huddersfield up next Saturday.

Town: Hladky, Clarke (Williams 60), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo, Burns (Hutchinson 60), Chaplin (Harness 78), Broadhead (Taylor 83), Hirst (Scarlett 78). Unused: Slicker, Evans, Ladapo, Ball.

Blackburn: Pears, Brittain (Rankin-Costello 81), Carter, Hyam, Pickering, A Wharton, Travis (c), Szmodics, Moran (Dolan 46), Sigurdsson (Hedges 46 (Markanday 55), Leonard (Telalovic 82). Unused: Wahlstedt, Hill, S Wharton, Tronstad. Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire). Att: 28,792 (Rovers: 858).

Photo: Matchday Images

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ArnieM added 18:49 - Sep 23
Bloody brilliant game - for the neutral lol … I was close to a coronary for most of that second half . Game had everything and a superb advert for the Championship. We just keep doing it don’t we! Things to learn from it though and you have to acknowledge just what a lovely attacking team Blackburn are. They’ll whip a few butts this season ….. when to they play scum!! M

Well played Town , some stunning goals there today .

Linkboy13 added 19:03 - Sep 23
The entertainment value was so good even if we had ended up 3 3 i would have been happy but to get the win was brilliant. I think if you are a ex player you tend to see things realistically and not just at the result and it's obvious we do have defensive dificentsies. By the end of the season i expect one or two changes in the line up. In the championship you just can't afford to switch off for a second or you get punished. Losing Morsy is a massive loss but i don't think Taylor replacing him is a foregone conclusion . It will be fascinating to see what McKenna does but Humphreys seems to have drifted off the seen is he on loan.


ImAbeliever added 19:06 - Sep 23

Orraman added 19:11 - Sep 23
Help writes above that it is difficult to choose the better of the goals from Clarke and Luongo but it was also a brilliant 25 yard strike from Broadhead and after Hirst took control of a superb pass from Burgess he still had work to do to finish past Blackburn goalkeeper. Four top class goals.

BobbyBell added 19:14 - Sep 23
KM wants us to be brave and when you are brave you can concede, however 1-0 or 4-3 it's still 3 points and 4-3 is so exciting. Remember when McCarthy used to defend at home against everyone? Blackburn are a very good side and we went toe to toe with them and won it.

TimmyH added 19:31 - Sep 23
What entertainment at PR this season...and a roller coaster of emotions, as long as we get 1 more than them that's al that matters!

So 8 games in and 21 points is a dream start...but a long long way to go, just wish the season could end now.

Luongo probably Motm for me just from another very impressive bit part performance from Hutchinson but well done all (again).

Bert added 19:57 - Sep 23
Four excellent goals and a couple of give aways to learn from but this team has to be the most entertaining for decades. KMcK was right about Blackburn being a very good attacking team so the three points are even more valuable.

RobsonWark added 20:23 - Sep 23
Great result today against a good team though we made it hard for ourselves with very poor defending. Being 3-1 up at half-time, I felt uneasy when the second half kicked off because anyone could see them scoring in second half with them penetrating our very poor defence. We need Axel match fit and to partner Burgess asap. Wolfenden is not a Championship player. Too laid back and slow. He should have jumped higher for their second goal but barely left the ground and god knows what he was doing for their third goal. Wes Burns needs to be dropped. He offers absolutely no help to Clarke when defending which is making Clarke look a fool and his shooting is crap. Bring in the exciting and very skilled Omari and Axel when he is fit.

RobsonWark added 20:24 - Sep 23
All these wins that we have had this season have papered over the cracks in our defence. We have been very luck so far!

blueboy1981 added 20:28 - Sep 23
Another welcome 3 points, but that was a ‘skin of the teeth’ job !
After conceding Goals, as we are at Home like today, Teams are being encouraged to come and take points - it nearly happened today !
That threat will increase if not sorted and nullified, visiting Managers / Coaches in this Championship are no mugs and will have noted such frailties.
We must make Portman Road a Fortress, to complement thr excellent away performances thus far.
Well Done All !

pazzy added 20:37 - Sep 23
this game was a great tribute to SALLY COTTON who passed a couple of weeks back a wonderful ipswich fan who would have loved the way we play today i dedicate this game to her memory rip sally

heavyweight added 20:37 - Sep 23
Their second looked to come off Clarks knee rather than a header from their attacker.

herfie added 21:01 - Sep 23
A pulsating, entertaining and, at times, Premiership quality, game. Massive plaudits to both players and coaching staff for everything they did to snatch the 3 points. It was an outstanding, see-saw, game that, in truth, could have gone either way. In previous seasons we know what would have happened! Not under McK though.

KMcK will be all to aware of the improvements that need to be achieved as we continue our amazing journey. We’re slightly unbalanced in terms of midfield/forward quality, and need for our defence to play consistently to the same high standard. In many ways it’s down to speed of thought, anticipation, concentration and reaction when under pressure - so much quicker at this level. But 2nd in the league - fantastic! COYB


BlueBlueBlood added 21:05 - Sep 23
If it wasn't the start of the game and so couldn't risk a booking, can't help but think Clarke would have just dived full length into the SAR stand after his goal.

magnus68 added 21:16 - Sep 23
Such a joy to watch, so proud of our intensity and quality. One thing though, I was worried every time Vlad had the ball.

SpiritOfJohn added 22:04 - Sep 23
Fantastic game today. Credit to Blackburn for coming to town looking to play their football and contributed well to the entertainment. We could have been out of sight at half time, but we kept it interesting. Yes, we did look a bit vulnerable at times when Rovers broke our press with large numbers streaming forward, but it is overly simplistic to blame the defence. We defend as a unit and attack as a unit. Super KM predicted an exciting encounter and he was right, and we were brave enough to keep on backing our abilities to come through the test and pick up another 3 very welcome points.

algarvefan added 22:24 - Sep 23
Luongo was nothing short of superb today, his midfield performance was like a lesson on how to play. His goal the icing on the cake!!!
We're gonna score one more than you seems to be our mantra at home, not good for the old ticker, but I love watching us at the moment, well done lads

RobsonWark added 22:29 - Sep 23
Spirit, I think KMcK predicted an exciting game because he knows that defensively we are just not good enough.

BlueTractor78 added 22:50 - Sep 23
Great goals
Awesome atmosphere
Fantastic football
Rapturous result
Magnificent Massimo.


Lukeybluey added 06:08 - Sep 24
Well done town! Thought I was having a heart attack in the stand watching that! Great game for the neutral, end to end. Blackburn are definitely no mugs, a decent team, especially going forward. Onto the next!


WonTheCupin78 added 09:31 - Sep 24
Excellent result! Well done team!

Orraman added 10:47 - Sep 24
Blueboy, you just can’t help yourself. Amidst all the euphoria of a great game of football and yet another win you have to look for a negative. Have you not realised yet that yes we do invite teams to come on to us and by drawing them up into our half we expose their rearguard to our fast, incisive breakaways. It’s worked well throughout 2023 hasn’t it.?
Shades of Joe Royle with his ‘you score 2, we’ll score 3 mantra’ except that with KM it is all done to a well thought out and well delivered plan. Why not try to live in and enjoy the moment - it won’t last forever. Such a great time to be a Town supporter.

blueboy1981 added 11:01 - Sep 24
Some of you won’t like this, but I couldn’t care less, I can predict the normal down markers - but at times (conceded Goals) our defence was a Shambles !
If you down markers think we will continue to get away with such - you’re in for a Shock !!
Is Woofy Championship Standard ?? - just asking !

Ebantiass added 11:03 - Sep 24
Brilliant display and result. We just beat the championships most attacking side by outscoring them. Like the gaffa said he knew that they would come after us ,even on our own patch and it proved that he was right. The planning going into these games by the entire management team seems to be paying off. Not sure if it was good for my blood pressure but what a game.
Hopefully Burns will begin to find some form again, hes been a shadow of the play he was last season and before.

All in all very well down town long may it continue.


warktheline added 11:46 - Sep 24
It’s called entertaining football…you score 3 and we’ll score 4! Home and away performances are contrasting…think about it! For those continually looking for an ‘Achilles heel’….your arrows are blunt and pointless!

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