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Wes Burns scores stunning strike as Ipswich Town beat Coventry City 2-1 at Portman Road

Two first-half goals, including a stunning strike from Wes Burns, saw Ipswich Town to a 2-1 home victory over Coventry City to keep up the pressure on Sky Bet Championship leaders Leicester City.

The Suffolk side were denied the chance to go top of the pile with their victory after Leicester scored a stoppage-time winner at fellow promotion contenders West Brom for a 2-1 victory in the lunchtime kick-off.

But Kieran McKenna’s side mirrored that scoreline to make it two victories in four days at Portman Road, following Wednesday’s 3-0 victory against Millwall and back-to-back wins, coming after the 2-0 setback last Saturday at West Brom.

Wes Burns doubled Town’s advantage in the first half against Coventry with a spectacular strike Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns doubled Town’s advantage in the first half against Coventry with a spectacular strike Picture: Barry Goodwin

George Hirst fired them into a sixth-minute lead with his fifth goal of the season from Nathan Broadhead’s throughball.

But as Coventry looked to be getting into the game Welsh international Burns lit up Portman Road with an outside-of-the-boot curling effort from just inside the area in the 41st minute.

Coventry came out strong in the second half but squandered the chance to level from the penalty spot with substitute Matt Godden’s 73rd minute cannoned back off the crossbar.

George Hirst (left) opened the scoring as Town players celebrated another eary lead at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
George Hirst (left) opened the scoring as Town players celebrated another eary lead at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin

They did eventually get on the scoresheet, to ruin the Blues’ clean sheet, in the dying seconds of the contest when substitute Brandon Williams headed past his own keeper calling for a push in the back.

But it was another important three points for Town that keeps them seven points ahead of third-placed Leeds United, who won 3-2 at home to Middlesbrough, whom the Blues travel to next Saturday.

Home boss Kieran McKenna opted for one change from Wednesday’s starting line-up against Millwall with Axel Tuanzebe dropping out of the squad with Luke Wooldenden starting in central defence while Brandon Williams came back on the bench.

Mark Robbins’ visitors, who lost out on the Premier League in last year’s play-off final, arrived in 15th place in the table but buoyed by back-to-back victories without conceding.

The Sky Blues line-up showed two changes from Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at home to Plymouth Argyle with Callum O'Hare and Yasin Ayari starting ahead of Matt Godden and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto.

It was Town who threatened first in the fourth minute when Wes Burns pulled the ball back inside the area for Conor Chaplin but, off balance, he sent it spinning well over the crossbar.

But just like they did on Wednesday night, Town get themselves into an early lead in the sixth minute with some incisive play.

With Wes Burns down injured, Nathan Broadhead slipped a lovely throughball from the left-hand side for Hirst who cut inside Liam Kitching on his way into the area before coolly side-foot finishing inside the right-hand post from just before the penalty spot for his fifth goal of the season.

Having delighted another bumper Portman Road crowd, the Blues continued to look assured in possession.

And they almost doubled their advantage on quarter-of-an-hour mark when a raking pass out of the back from Harry Clarke put Broadhead through one-on-one into the area, but under pressure from Milan Van Ewijk, he dragged his shot several yards wide of the far post.

Coventry registered their first effort in the 19th minute when Kitching met a Jake Bidwell corner but sent a looping header well over.

Town continued to look in control and went close again when Burns sent a dipping effort not far over following a Kitching header from a left-sided cross dropping into his path.

A few minutes later Broadhead planted a header up over the bar from Sam Morsy’s deep free kick.

But Vaclav Hladky, only involved with his feet up beforehand, was called upon in the 29th minute to make an arching save to turn away Bidwell’s effort from the edge of the box after Van Ewijk's cross bounced back through to him.

There were clear signs the Sky Blues were beginning to find their feet in the game and they had the ball in the net in the 36th minute with Haji Wright found alone from a deep cross on the right, only to be flagged offside.

Wright ran at the Town defence soon after before seeing his deflected shot go wide with Bidwell subsequently firing the rebound from his blocked first effort well over.

Fears that Town’s performance was dropping off were quickly dispelled as they doubled their advantage with a moment of magic in the 41st minute.

Chaplin cleverly changed the short passing tempo inside his own half with a switch out to Davis who drove forward before finding Burns out on the right. The Welsh international then skipped inside Bidwell and Jamie Allen into the right-hand side of the box and hit a banana shot with the outside of his right boot, otherwise known as a trivela, that curled wonderfully back into the top left-hand corner for another goal of the season contender at Portman Road.

As the half entered three minutes of stoppage-time Davis blazed over the bar from a Broadhead cut-back after Chaplin’s low cross had evaded everyone.

It was an opening 45 which saw the Blues deservedly carry a cushioned lead into the break having looked much the better side, despite Coventry having a few dangerous moments.

Robins opted for a triple substitution at the start of the second half with Godden, Sakamoto and Joe Latibeaudiere replacing Allen, Ayari and Josh Eccles.

Visiting captain Ben Sheaf skied a pull-back to the edge of the box in the opening stages while a deep cross from Sakamoto went beyond everyone and Hladky was out well to dive on his next dangerous low delivery.

Gooden put well wide from inside the box from another Sakamoto cross as their bright start to the second period continued.

Town got a free kick on the edge of the box as the pressure relented with Chaplin blasting a teed up effort into the defence with the crowd shouting for a handball before the visitors eventually cleared.

Bobby Thomas headed a left-sided cross wide for Coventry before there was a pause in play for Broadhead to get treatment but he was okay to continue.

Harry Clarke threatened to extend the Blues’ lead in the 63rd minute when he drove inside from the right from Luongo’s ball before firing a low effort wide of the right-hand post.

Two minutes later there was a standing ovation from the home fans for goalscorer Burns as he left the field along with Broadhead as Marcus Harness and Omari Hutchinson were introduced.

The Sky Blues were awarded a controversial penalty in the 73rd minue when Clarke was adjudged to have fouled Sakamoto just inside the area with a trialing boot from a corner from O’Hare’s deflected shot. But Godden saw his spot-kick cannon back off the face of the crossbar before Town got the ball clear in what the home fans saw as justice served.

McKenna’s side almost put the game to bed a few minutes later but Luongo saw his low shot from just outside the area pushed away by Brad Collins.

Williams and Jack Taylor were brought on to freshen things up for Clarke and Chaplin in the 78th minute.

Town continued to defend their box well before Hirst’s exit for Kayden Jackson with five minutes to go was met with another standing ovation.

Simms headed a deep Sheaf cross wide while Van Ewijk blazed over from the fringe of the box as Coventry continued to look for a way back into the contest.

Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled with Cameron Burgess making a lunging block on Simms’ shot from the edge of the box while Williams soon took the ball off the same player’s toe in the area before being fouled.

But he was the one calling for a foul in vain in the final seconds as he headed a deep Sheaf cross beyond Hladky for an own goal, claiming strongly he had been pushed into it.

Although it frustratingly saw a clean sheet wiped out there was not enough time for the visitors to threaten an equaliser as Town extended their winning run at Portman Road in the Championship to eight matches.

Ipswich: Hladky, Clarke (Wiliams 78’), Davis, Morsy (cpt), Woolfenden, Burns (Hutchinson 65’), Chaplin (Taylor 78’), Burgess, Luongo, Hirst (Jackson 85’), Broadhead (Harness 65’).

Unused subs: Walton (gk), Ladapo, Ball, Scarlett.

Booked: Williams (89’).

Coventry: Collins, Thomas, Allen (Godden 46’), O’Hare (Dasilva 74’), Wright (Simms 74’), Sheaf (cpt), Kitching, Bidwell, Ayari (Sakamoto 46’), Van Ewijk, Eccles (Latibeaudiere 46’).

Unused subs: Moore (gk), Wilson, Binks, Kelly.

Booked: Sakamoto (79’).

Attendance: 29,378 (1,970 away fans)

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Wes Burns. Some good solid performances all-round but hard to not give it to the Welshman after his sublime goal that lit up Portman Road.