Report: Ipswich Town 2-0 Bolton
Bolton Wanderers were beaten on the road, with goals either side of half time securing three points for Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
In a game that was closely-contested for large parts, it was the home side’s clinical finishing in the final third which ultimately proved decisive.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Brett Pitman were the scorers, as despite plenty of endeavour, Bolton were unable to find a way past a resolute Ipswich rearguard.
Neil Lennon made just the two changes to the starting line-up that had battled to a draw at Preston three days earlier. Derik Osede dropped to the bench and Shola Ameobi missed out completely, with Prince-Desire Gouano, back from suspension, and Gary Madine back in the starting XI from the off.
Mark Davies missed out on the matchday squad completely.
Bolton started the game brightly. Inside the opening three minutes Darren Pratley twice stole in behind the Ipswich defence to the byline, and on one occasion picked out Max Clayton who saw a header smuggled clear by goalkeeper Dean Gerken.
The home side’s first sniff of goal came on eight minutes, when Pitman glanced a cross from the right goalwards that was easily held by Ben Amos.
But Bolton’s positive start was undone on 13 minutes.
Ipswich sprang a counter down the right side, with Arsenal loanee Maitland-Niles cutting infield before squeezing a shot into Amos’ far corner from the edge of the area.
A second almost followed when Pitman capitalised on a mix-up between Amos and David Wheater, only for his weak effort to be hacked away from the goalline by the covering Jose Manuel Casado.
Bolton needed a foothold in the game, as Freddie Sears escaped in the left channel before being denied by a point blank save from Amos.
On 26 minutes Clayton was hacked down on the whitewash of the area by Jonas Knudsen after a clever turn. Bolton worked the resulting free kick well, with Casado’s dummy run allowing David Wheater space to canon a shot into a ruck of Ipswich defenders.
For the remainder of the half Bolton saw much of the ball inside the Ipswich half, and despite working a couple of goalscoring opportunities saw efforts blocked by last-ditch challenges from blue shirts.
On the stroke of half time Amos was forced into another smart low save from Sears.
Ahead of the start of the second period Derik was introduced in place of Prince in a straight swap at right-back.
And within minutes of the restart Ipswich sub Jonathan Douglas thundered a volley from a half-cleared corner kick onto the Bolton crossbar.
Wheater then had to be alert to clear Sears’ goal-bound header from a Knudsen cutback from the byline.
The hour mark came and went without any real incident of note, before on 67 minutes Wheater saw a looping header comfortably saved from Derik’s right-wing cross.
But as Bolton pressed for a second, they were done on the break as the home side netted their second.
Sears pounced on a loose ball before surging forward and releasing Pitman, who took one touch to steady himself before sending an unerring effort high into the net.
Kaiyne Woolery was introduced in place of Clayton, as Bolton sought to half the deficit.
Pitman once again saw an effort cleared off the line, with Jay Spearing in the right place at the right time to clear his header away.
In the final throes of the game Sears flashed an effort wide from an acute angle before seeing a dipping volley saved by Amos.