Ipswich Town suffer embarrassing 5-2 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers
Ipswich Town famously beat Bolton Wanderers 5-3 in a play-off semi-final second leg victory at Portman Road on their way up to the Premier League via their last Wembley visit in May, 2000.
But those old enough to remember that magical roller-coaster night had to endure somewhat of a reversal of it this afternoon as a newly-promoted Bolton side recorded a 5-2 victory to intensify the pressure on manager Paul Cook.
It is now six Sky Bet League One matches without a win to open The Tractor Boys' 2021/22 campaign, which had been filled with hope after a summer of sweeping changes to the playing staff.
After Town took the lead through Macauley Bonne's fourth goal of the season in the fifth minute a frenetic opening period ended with the hosts trailing 3-2 via Dapo Afolayan's stoppage-time curling finish, for his second of the half.
But the defensive mistakes only intensified for the Blues thereafter with Wanderers taking advantage with goals from Joe Sheehan (47') and George Johnston (57') which highlighted the fragility of a newly-formed side.
While the victory saw Bolton rise to third in the table, Town dropped a place in the relegation zone to third from bottom.
Cook made five changes to the side who drew 2-2 at home to AFC Wimbledon last time out, ahead of the international break on August 28.
There were debuts for recent loan goalkeeper signing Christian Walton and centre-back George Edmundson, signed from Glasgow Rangers over the summer but having had to build up to full fitness.
Striker Sone Aluko was handed his full league debut while goalkeeper Václav Hladky, who was not even on the bench, missed out alongside Luke Woolfenden, Scott Fraser, Kyle Edwards (inj) and Joe Piggott.
Deadline day signings Bersant Celina (regaining fitness) and Sam Morsy (suspended) were also not involved.
Woolfenden's absence, who along with Fraser was not on the bench, meant Town did not have a traditional home grown player in the match day 18.
Ian Evatt's Bolton made one change from Monday's goalless draw at home to Burton Albion with central midfielder Josh Sheehan, back from international duty with Wales, replacing Kieran Lee.
Wanderers captain Antoni Sarcevic headed over a corner on the run at the near post inside the third minute but it was the hosts who celebrated the opener less than two minutes later.
Wes Burns' strong run down the right saw him go past Liam Gordon into the penalty box before picking out Bonne unmarked inside the six-yard box with a low pass for a simple far-post finish.
Edmundson soon endeared himself to the home crowd with a strong tackle in the box but the visitors drew level in the 10th minute.
A crossfield ball from the right-hand side was met with a cushioned header into the box from Gordon for Afolayan, with the former West Ham United player firing in from an angle through Walton's legs.
And the Lancashire side found themselves ahead in the 18th minute via a helping hand from the hosts.
Kane Vincent-Young, who had already picked up a yellow card, went to ground late on Afolayan with referee Robert Madley quickly pointing to the penalty spot. Number nine Doyle fired it down the middle of the goal to beat Walton's dive.
Cook responded by soon replacing Vincent-Young with Janoi Donacien, who immediately did well to rob Doyle in the box.
Town began to look a threat again and it was 2-2 on the half-hour mark when Burns again got to a dangerous crossing position with his low ball going in off defender Santos as he looked to prevent Bonne latching on to it.
Conor Chaplin fired over from outside the box before sending a near-post header just over as the hosts look to build on their momentum.
Another menacing run into the box from Burns almost provided the fifth goal but Bonne had his head in his hands after steering it just past the right-hand post.
But it was Bolton who went into the break with their noses back in front after a breakaway move saw Afolayab provide an excellent curling finish from inside the area to end a breathtaking half.
Things did not slow down at the start of the second period with Bonne firing straight at the 'keeper before slack defending saw the visitors extended their lead in the 47th minute.
After Sarvecic's shot was kept out well by Walton's legs he was able to pick up the loose ball too easily before picking out the unmarked Sheehan around 10 yards out who passed it into the left-hand corner.
Town look visibly defeated as the chances continued to rain in on their goal with Afolayan unmarked when sending a half volley wide from a wide position before Sarecevic sent an acrobatic over following a corner.
The pressure told with a fifth goal arriving in the 57th minute. A chaotic passage of play ended with Santos' right-sided cross seeing a first effort blocked by Edmundson's head before it fell for Johnnston who placed a half volley into the roof of the net.
Finally a chance arrived again for Town in the 64th minute but from Coulson's deep free kick Bonne saw his volley come back off the inside of the right-hand post.
Captain Lee Evans then saw a 30-yard free kick comfortably saved.
But Bolton were soon threatening a sixth with Sheehan's fierce effort from the edge of the area palmed out by Walton before Sarcevic sent a long range effort over.
Ipswich were unable to muster another meaningful chance as a highly disappointing afternoon ended with the visitors celebrating an unbelievable 5-2 scoreline, having not won a league game at Portman Road since 2001.
Ipswich Town: Walton, Harper, Edmundson, Burns, Evans (c), Bonne, Chaplin (Carroll 64'), Aluko, Vincent-Young (Donacien 24'), Burgess, Coulson. Unused subs: Holy, Penney, Pigott, Barry, Jackson.
Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, Jones, Williams, Santos, Johnston, Sheehan (Lee 74'), Doyle, Sarcevic (c), Afolayan, Isgrove (Kachunga 62'), Gordon. Unused subs: Gilks, Delfounesco, Amson, Thomason, Baptiste.
Suffolk News Man of the Match: Very hard to pick an Ipswich Town player out in a 5-2 defeat but Sone Aluko was a tireless worker on his league debut and showed some neat touches. Wes Burns, on the other flank, was electric in the first half but faded thereafter.