Doncaster 0-6 Ipswich: Wickham Wonderful!
Tuesday 15 February 2011
Teenage sensation Connor Wickham got a hat-trick as Ipswich Town rolled back the years to equal their biggest ever away win with a 6-0 demolition of Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.
For the first time in four matches, Paul Jewell made changes to his Ipswich lineup, Tamas Priskin and the injured David Norris replaced by Oakwell goalscorer Jason Scotland and Colin Healy. January signing Andy Drury was also included on the bench. Grant Leadbitter was given the captain's armband in Norris' absence.
In stark contrast to Town, Doncaster came into this game in very poor form, but the hosts had the first chance of the game after five minutes. Delaney lost the ball and James Coppinger exchanged passes with Dean Shiels before being played in on goal, but Blues keeper Marton Fulop was out smartly to deny him before Leadbitter cleared the danger.
After that early danger, Ipswich began their assault on the Doncaster goal. Lee Martin's ball into the box almost fell for Wickham, but despite getting two bites at it after a ricochet off James Chambers, the Town striker couldn't convert and Rovers keeper Gary Woods managed to claim.
15 minutes later, Scotland struck over the bar before Mark Wilson shot narrowly wide for the hosts, but it was Town who were enjoying the majority of the chances. Gareth McAuley knocked Carlos Edwards' cross back for Jimmy Bullard to strike, his effort deflected wide for a corner. From the set-piece, Bullard's delivery was hammered towards goal on the volley by Leadbitter, but James O'Connor was in the right place to block it.
Despite their efforts to get the danger clear however, that same passage of play proved to be Doncaster's undoing. Scotland laid back to Leadbitter whose blocked effort looped up high into the Rovers area. Under pressure from McAuley, defender Sam Hird got up to try and head the ball away, but he only succeeded in sending it looping on towards his own goal. Woods, Chambers, George Friend and Town's Martin all dashed towards it, but three of them simply ended up in a heap as the ball sailed into the net anyway. A scrappy and rather fortunate opener, but it set Ipswich on their way with a deserved 1-0 lead.
Quickly looking for a second, Wickham set up Scotland whose effort was deflected over before McAuley failed to connect with the corner. On 33 minutes however, another goal did come. A long ball forward by Delaney was knocked down by Hird but only into the path of Martin. The much-improved midfielder then slipped the ball back across the area where Norris' stand-in Colin Healy was running into the middle, the Irishman finishing well into the bottom corner for his first Ipswich goal to make it 2-0 to the Blues.
Doncaster tried their best to find a way back into the game, Chambers having a shot deflected wide before Joseph Mills was denied after good work by Coppinger. Within four minutes however, the hosts found themselves three goals down. Healy, boosted by his goal, tried for a second from 25 yards, and Woods could only parry his shot straight into the path of Connor Wickham. The young striker reacted quickly to slot the ball into the far corner to give Town a 3-0 lead before half time.
First half goals have been a rarity for Ipswich this season, but by now the Blues looked to be cruising against a poor Doncaster side falling to their sixth defeat in seven. Coppinger thumped a frustrated effort from 35 yards which Fulop saved comfortably as referee Mark Halsey brought the first 45 minutes to a close.
Hoping to shut the floodgates, Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll replaced Chambers with Wayne Thomas at half-time. The hosts did carve out the first few chances of the second period, Paul Keegan hitting off-target from a John Oster cross and Wilson thumping a drive wide before Fulop prevented Shiels finding a way through.
That was about as good as it got for Doncaster though, while things started to get better and better for Ipswich. Town haven't scored more than three goals in a league match since a 4-1 win at Crystal Palace in January 2009, but this was finally to be their day. Bullard's corner from the left was punched away by Woods, but standing on the penalty spot was Connor Wickham to control and volley home for his second goal of the match.
With the result all but decided, Jewell took the opportunity to give former non-league midfielder Drury his first professional league appearance, the January arrival coming on in place of Martin after 63 minutes. If there had been any doubt about whether the points were already safe enough by then, they certainly were two minutes later. Another Bullard delivery this time from a free kick soared over Wickham in the box, but behind him was Gareth McAuley to nod inside the far post for his third goal of the season and the Blues' fifth. It was now not just becoming a rout, but one of the biggest on the road in the club's history.
There were still 25 minutes left at the Keepmoat Stadium and things only looked likely to get worse for the hosts. Wickham nodded a cross by Edwards straight into the arms of Woods before the teenager struck wide 5 minutes later. The hosts brought on Ryan Burge in place of Shiels before Jewell took off Scotland for Tamas Priskin and Leadbitter for Jaime Peters as the Blues seemed happy to see out the rest of the match.
Doncaster attempted to reply as the game ran into its final ten minutes but could not find even a consolation. Priskin did well to prevent fellow substitute Thomas getting towards goal, then Mills curled a free kick from the right straight to Fulop before the midfielder was replaced by Dennis Souza. At the other end, Delaney shot wide for Town before another Bullard free kick might have been converted by Healy only for the Irishman to nod over the bar.
With a minute of normal time left, Rovers came as close to scoring as they had done all match. Wickham and O'Connor battled to reach a cross from the left, diverting the ball into the path of Keegan on the left-hand post. The Irishman looked certain to grab the hosts a goal back, but Fulop did brilliantly to block his effort from close range.
Just as things had been looking up for Donny, the scoreline got even better for the Blues in the last minute. Priskin chested a long ball down cleverly for Connor Wickham to run in from the left, where Hird - who had inadvertently played his part in Town's first two goals - then brought down the England U19 international cutting into the box, prompting Halsey to award a penalty. Town's 17-year-old star stepped up to take the penalty himself, and confidently fired into the bottom-left corner of the Doncaster goal to complete his first senior hat-trick and cap off a wonderful night for Ipswich, the 6-0 scoreline at the Keepmoat equalling their biggest-ever victory on the road.
The Town players, manager and fans alike will be delighted at what was Ipswich Town's most impressive victory since a 6-0 home win over Bristol City in 2007, with Wickham following in the footsteps of hat-trick hero Jon Walters that day. After a slow start to the campaign with injury and limited chances, the teenager looks to be exploding back into the form that got Blues fans so excited about him last season.
Wickham is not the only man in form though, with many players appearing to be enjoying a new lease of life under Jewell. Healy has improved after an indifferent first season at Portman Road, whilst Martin seems a new player under the new manager. Indeed, the whole team deserves congratulations for coming back from the disappointment at Oakwell to secure what is one of the best results in the club's history. Tougher games will follow, but if Jewell can keep his team playing with this kind of belief, they can surely prove to be a match for anyone in the Championship.
Doncaster: G Woods, J O'Connor, Friend, Chambers (Thomas 46), Mills, Hird, Wilson, Oster, Shiels (Burge 69), Coppinger, Keegan - Not used: Sullivan, Webster, Guedes, Kilgallon, Grayson
Ipswich: Fulop, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter (Peters 79), Edwards, Martin (Drury 63), Bullard, Healy, Kennedy, Wickham, Scotland (Priskin 77) - Not used: Lee-Barrett, Smith, O'Dea
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