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Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna hails 'fantastic' crowd as nearly 27,000 pack into Portman Road for Bolton Wanderers opener



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Portman Road was a packed out sea of blue-and-white as the Ipswich Town players got their Sky Bet League One season under way in a 1-1 draw with fellow promotion hopefuls Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

The anticipation of a big season for Suffolk's only professional club in former Manchester United coach and assistant manager Kieran McKenna's first full campaign in charge drew in a bumper crowd of 26,688 (1,392 away supporters).

Despite a fourth season down in the third tier of English football it was actually found to be the fifth highest opening home attendance for a league season in the club's rich history.

Ipswich Town fans show their support ahead of hosting Bolton Wanderers, creating a sea of blue and white Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans show their support ahead of hosting Bolton Wanderers, creating a sea of blue and white Picture: Barry Goodwin

And McKenna certainly appreciated the backing for his players and himself, describing it in his post-match press conference as 'fantastic'.

"The fanzone coming into the ground was a sight to behold as well," he said.

"It was great to have that support, everyone appreciates it so much.

There was plenty of girl power on display in the stands at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
There was plenty of girl power on display in the stands at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin

"The best thing about the crowd for me today was the reaction to conceding the goal.

"It would have been very easy and understandable after the build-up to have negativity in the stadium and in them instances, playing in front of 27,000 can go either way. It can be a big backing for you or a big burden for you.

"And with the way the crowd stayed positive encouraging the next attacks, sticking behind the players, I thought that was a massive moment for us as a football club because we are going to need that on the pitch but we are going to need that in the stands.

"I certainly felt they more than played their part today and the players did everything they could in the second half to force home a win for them but we just weren't able to get the ball in the back of the net.

Young Ipswich Town fans give the thumbs up on the opening day Picture: Barry Goodwin
Young Ipswich Town fans give the thumbs up on the opening day Picture: Barry Goodwin

"I think it was a good day for the club and the unison between the team and the supporters. It is up to us to build on that now we know we have their backing and encouragement.

"It is up to us to deliver more performances like the second half and if we do that we will give them the wins that they obviously crave."

The Blues had fallen behind in the 25th minute to a Aaron Morley penalty, following new signing Leif Davis clipping Conor Bradley towards the far corner of the penalty area.

A young Blues fan gives a cheeky pose to our photographer Picture: Barry Goodwin
A young Blues fan gives a cheeky pose to our photographer Picture: Barry Goodwin

But Lee Evans' clever run and precise finish in the 38th minute from Conor Chaplin's corner had the home crowd celebrating the first goal of the season for their side.

There was an onslaught from McKenna's side in the second half but Manchester City loanee goalkeeper James Trafford clawed away an Evans header from another Chaplin corner and made a crucial save with his legs to deny Sam Morsy in stoppage time to preserve a point.

Manager Kieran McKenna certainly appreciated the home support as the competitive action got under way at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Manager Kieran McKenna certainly appreciated the home support as the competitive action got under way at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Despite the train strikes Portman Road was packed out in many of the home sections Picture: Barry Goodwin
Despite the train strikes Portman Road was packed out in many of the home sections Picture: Barry Goodwin
'The future's bright, the future's blue and white' was the Blue Action banners which greeted the players emerging on to the pitch on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
'The future's bright, the future's blue and white' was the Blue Action banners which greeted the players emerging on to the pitch on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
There was a new scoreboard big screen up and running for the first time at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
There was a new scoreboard big screen up and running for the first time at Portman Road on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
A young Blues supporter gets an autograph from one of the Suffolk club's two mascots, Crazee Picture: Barry Goodwin
A young Blues supporter gets an autograph from one of the Suffolk club's two mascots, Crazee Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans show their support ahead of hosting Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans show their support ahead of hosting Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
It was a special eagerly-anticipated day for the club's young fans among the big crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
It was a special eagerly-anticipated day for the club's young fans among the big crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
It was a special eagerly-anticipated day for the club's young fans among the big crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
It was a special eagerly-anticipated day for the club's young fans among the big crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
An Ipswich Town fan displays some of his tattoos Picture: Barry Goodwin
An Ipswich Town fan displays some of his tattoos Picture: Barry Goodwin
The generations came together at Portman Road to support their team alongside each other Picture: Barry Goodwin
The generations came together at Portman Road to support their team alongside each other Picture: Barry Goodwin
A supporter decked out in the popular new Umbro home shirt checks his phone ahead of kick-off, having visited the club shop Picture: Barry Goodwin
A supporter decked out in the popular new Umbro home shirt checks his phone ahead of kick-off, having visited the club shop Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town shirts throughout the years were on display at Portman Road for the early July start to the campaign Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town shirts throughout the years were on display at Portman Road for the early July start to the campaign Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans were able to get their faces painted as part of the activities in the fanzone ahead of kick-off Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans were able to get their faces painted as part of the activities in the fanzone ahead of kick-off Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans eagerly anticipating the big kick-off against Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans eagerly anticipating the big kick-off against Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton was joined in the directors' box by two of the Three Lions American-based investor group, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer pictured second and third from left. Mark Steed, the chief investment officer of Arizona’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System that is the majority funded of the Blues, was also present (centre, left of Ashton) Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton was joined in the directors' box by two of the Three Lions American-based investor group, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer pictured second and third from left. Mark Steed, the chief investment officer of Arizona’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System that is the majority funded of the Blues, was also present (centre, left of Ashton) Picture: Barry Goodwin
A supporter displays their 'North Stand' flag in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, formerly known as the North Stand at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
A supporter displays their 'North Stand' flag in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, formerly known as the North Stand at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans in the lower Sir Bobby Robson Stand show their support Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town fans in the lower Sir Bobby Robson Stand show their support Picture: Barry Goodwin
George Edmundson, who ended last season on the treatment table, shows his appreciation for the home support at full-time Picture: Barry Goodwin
George Edmundson, who ended last season on the treatment table, shows his appreciation for the home support at full-time Picture: Barry Goodwin
A home supporter in the new Ed Sheeran-sponsored shirt holds a flag aloft to welcome the players on to the pitch Picture: Barry Goodwin
A home supporter in the new Ed Sheeran-sponsored shirt holds a flag aloft to welcome the players on to the pitch Picture: Barry Goodwin
Substitute Tyreece John-Jules sees his shot comfortably saved in a late chance in the 1-1 draw Picture: Barry Goodwin
Substitute Tyreece John-Jules sees his shot comfortably saved in a late chance in the 1-1 draw Picture: Barry Goodwin
Substitute Sone Aluko stretches to get a foot on the ball Picture: Barry Goodwin
Substitute Sone Aluko stretches to get a foot on the ball Picture: Barry Goodwin
Tyreece John-Jules looks to keep hold of the ball under pressure Picture: Barry Goodwin
Tyreece John-Jules looks to keep hold of the ball under pressure Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns drives forward for the home side Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns drives forward for the home side Picture: Barry Goodwin
Freddie Ladapo comes under some tight marking from Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos Picture: Barry Goodwin
Freddie Ladapo comes under some tight marking from Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos Picture: Barry Goodwin
Conor Chaplin finds some space on the ball for the hosts Picture: Barry Goodwin
Conor Chaplin finds some space on the ball for the hosts Picture: Barry Goodwin
Arsenal youngster Tyreece John-Jules (right of Freddie Ladapo) was one of the new signings who came off the bench with League One sides now able to make five substitutes Picture: Barry Goodwin
Arsenal youngster Tyreece John-Jules (right of Freddie Ladapo) was one of the new signings who came off the bench with League One sides now able to make five substitutes Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich captain Sam Morsy turns his markers in a performance which saw him named our SuffolkNews Man of the Match Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich captain Sam Morsy turns his markers in a performance which saw him named our SuffolkNews Man of the Match Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna reacts to the drama unfolding on the pitch against Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna reacts to the drama unfolding on the pitch against Bolton Wanderers Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Christian Walton applauds the fans among a bumper home crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Christian Walton applauds the fans among a bumper home crowd Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich players celebrate their equaliser, scored by Lee Evans Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich players celebrate their equaliser, scored by Lee Evans Picture: Barry Goodwin
Leif Davis only joined the club from Leeds United in a big money move on Tuesday but was in the starting line-up on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Leif Davis only joined the club from Leeds United in a big money move on Tuesday but was in the starting line-up on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns, who became a Welsh international over the off-season, was back in action at Portman Road having established himself as a fans' favourite in his first campaign in Suffolk Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns, who became a Welsh international over the off-season, was back in action at Portman Road having established himself as a fans' favourite in his first campaign in Suffolk Picture: Barry Goodwin
Striker Freddie Ladapo, on his competitive Blues debut, gets up for a header Picture: Barry Goodwin
Striker Freddie Ladapo, on his competitive Blues debut, gets up for a header Picture: Barry Goodwin
New signing Marcus Harness pushes forward through the Bolton defence Picture: Barry Goodwin
New signing Marcus Harness pushes forward through the Bolton defence Picture: Barry Goodwin

Ipswich's next game comes on Saturday when a quickly sold out away end will be backing them at League One new-boys Forest Green Rovers.

Ian Birchnall's side scored a final minute winner at Bristol Rovers to get their campaign off to a winning start.