REPORT: Ipswich Town v Wanderers

Wanderers dug deep to earn a prized point on a demanding opening day at Portman Road.

Ipswich had lost just once in their final 13 home games of last season following the appointment of Kieran McKenna as manager.

But the Whites also had momentum to maintain following their storming end to last term and made sure they wouldn’t leave empty-handed with a never-say-die performance to get up and running.

For half an hour it looked as though it might have got even better after Aaron Morley’s penalty capped an outstanding opening spell.

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But once Town – fancied to be among the League One front-runners – had levelled by the break, Ian Evatt’s men then had to show real resolve and defensive discipline to earn a fitting reward.

Wanderers started with the side that had wound up pre-season a week earlier, confirming a competitive debut for loan man Conor Bradley while Kyle Dempsey missed out on a place in the match-day squad after sustaining a dead leg in training.

And it was Bradley who won the penalty that allowed the Whites to go ahead.

Wanderers had been the most assertive side from the off, buzzing around the Town penalty area as the hosts were restricted to just a couple of attempted counter-attacks.

And when Bradley combined with the tireless Gethin Jones and worked his way into the box with 25 minutes gone, the teenager was bundled over by new Ipswich signing Leif Davis.

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Morley had adopted the penalty taking duties in pre-season and the midfield man showed why he still had the job with a coolly driven effort into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 1-0.

It was no more than Wanderers deserved at that stage, although with Ipswich looking to mount a quick reply it took a crucial intervention from George Johnston – so often the right man in the right place at the right time – to block a Conor Chaplin effort.

Town hadn’t tested Whites’ keeper James Trafford up to that point but seven minutes before the break they found a way to level.

Wanderers had dealt well with what threat Town had previously managed but were caught out when Wes Burns picked out Lee Evans from a corner for the midfielder to drill a shot into the top corner.

With the momentum swinging, Bradley then had to show his defensive qualities to deny Freddie Ladapo a strike at goal and take the sides in level.

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The next goal felt crucial following the re-start and both sides nearly claimed it within the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Again the elusive Evans found space to connect with a Chaplin corner with a header which brought a flying save out of Trafford.

And then at the other end the persistence of Dion Charles almost brought the striker some reward before grateful Town keeper Christian Walton was able to smother.

It was tense stuff as Wanderers stood firm to keep the Blues at bay and with 20 minutes to go Evatt sent for fresh legs in the shape of Amadou Bakayo in place of Kieran Lee.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Elias Kachunga were then added to the mix after Charles and Afolayan had run themselves into the ground as the Whites kept looking for maximum points.

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But Ipswich also sensed possible victory themselves and Burns saw a header deflected just wide as Ricardo Almeida Santos got another of several crucial touches to the ball to avert the danger.

Despite the heat and sapping conditions both sides continued to try and press as possession rapidly turned over.

But having given everything, Wanderers had to work over-time to protect what they had and make sure they wouldn’t be undone at the death.

Ipswich were a constant threat on the break but Trafford made sure they wouldn’t find a way through again when he spread himself superbly to deny Sam Morsey in stoppage time as Wanderers’ collective defensive effort got them over the line.

Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Almeida-Santos, Johnston; Bradley, Morley (Thomson 83), Williams, John; Lee (Bakayoko 70); Charles (Bodvarsson 77), Afolayan (Kachunga 77). Substitutes: Sadlier, Iredale, Aimson.

Booked: John, Bradley

Ipswich: Substitutes: Walton; Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Davis (Leigh 59); Evans, Morsey; Burns, Chaplin (Aluko 70), Harness (John-Jules 59); Ladapo (Jackson 70). Substitutes: Hladky, Burgess, Harper.

Booked: Davis, Wolfenden

Referee: Samuel Barrott

Attendance: 26,668

Read Time: 4 mins