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Ipswich Town release was tough for Tommy Smith to take but he is looking to rebuild at Stowmarket Town



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Had things worked out differently, Tommy Smith would have been wearing the blue of Ipswich Town rather than the yellow and black stripes of Stowmarket Town when the sides met during last Friday’s pre-season friendly.

The former Bury St Edmunds schoolboy joined The Tractor Boys as an under-9 and worked his way up through the ranks at Portman Road to make two senior appearances – both in the Papa John’s (EFL) Trophy.

However, like so many young footballers up and down the country, at the end of last season Smith was informed that he was being released.

Tommy Smith has joined Stowmarket Town after being released by Ipswich Town. Picture: Mecha Morton
Tommy Smith has joined Stowmarket Town after being released by Ipswich Town. Picture: Mecha Morton

It was gut-wrenching news for the 20-year-old, but he has since dusted himself down and linked up with the club where he ended the 2021/22 campaign on loan.

And Stowmarket’s new left-back put in an impressive display against his old team-mates at Greens Meadow as Ipswich Town Under-23s, who had Bury Town boss Ben Chenery in the dugout with John McGreal, went down to a 1-0 defeat.

Smith said: “It was good seeing all the boys again and having a catch up.

Tommy Smith enjoys playing under Richard Wilkins (right) and Paul Musgrove (left). Picture: Mecha Morton
Tommy Smith enjoys playing under Richard Wilkins (right) and Paul Musgrove (left). Picture: Mecha Morton

“It is what it is. I done everything I could. I was upset at the time (about being released) after being there so long, but everything happens for a reason and now I’ve got to crack on.”

Asked why he had decided to return to Stowmarket on a permanent basis, Smith added: “I finished the season with Stowmarket when we were trying to get promoted.

“I loved playing here and this was always going to be an option. All the lads, Muzzy (Paul Musgrove, manager), Wilks (Richard Wilkins, assistant) and the staff, I like them all. It’s a good place for me to continue my journey and the right club for me to kick on.

“There was other clubs I could have spoke to instead, but I like the project here.

Stowmarket captain Tom Bullard tries to win possession from Gerard Buabo. Picture: Mecha Morton
Stowmarket captain Tom Bullard tries to win possession from Gerard Buabo. Picture: Mecha Morton

“In the long term I want to play as high as I can. Sometimes you’ve got to play where you’re happy and I liked everything about the club. I played some good football here and I want that to continue.”

The only goal of the contest was scored in the 16th minute when Ed Upson – a FA Youth Cup winner during his days on Ipswich’s books – whipped in a free kick from the left for Tom Bullard, who directed his downward header beyond Lewis Ridd in the visitors’ goal.

As expected, Ipswich dominated possession though found it hard to carve out clear-cut chances during the first half. Gerard Buabo, who had a loan stint at Bury Town last year, was picked out by ex-Needham Market attacker Callum Page’s cross but he did not make clean contact.

Opportunities were easier to come by for Ipswich after the restart, yet there was ultimately no way through a stubborn Stowmarket rearguard.

Stowmarket Town trialist Tom Maycock tries to wriggle free from three Ipswich defenders. Picture: Mecha Morton
Stowmarket Town trialist Tom Maycock tries to wriggle free from three Ipswich defenders. Picture: Mecha Morton

Meanwhile, up the other end half-time substitute new signing Natty Stewart caught the eye for the Old Gold & Blacks with a tireless performance that twice forced errors from Ipswich goalkeeper Ridd.

Stowmarket will continue their pre-season campaign tonight at Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division outfit Walsham-le-Willows.

That is followed on Tuesday by the visit of a Colchester United XI (both 7.45pm).