Scotland, Smith and Cresswell help Town progress
Town came from behind to book their place in the second round of the Capital One Cup after beating Bristol Rovers 3-1 at Portman Road.
Goals from Jason Scotland, Tommy Smith and Aaron Cresswell cancelled out Michael Smith’s opener for the Pirates.
Paul Jewell made one change to the side that beat Colchester in the final friendly of pre-season, with Jason Scotland replacing Josh Carson who was away on international duty.
It took Town just five minutes to register the first effort on goal of the game, with Michael Chopra cutting inside his marker before curling an effort that debutant Sam Walker did well to keep out.
However it wasn’t until 20 minutes later until Town next threatened the goal. A neat interchange involving Massimo Luongo and Chopra saw the latter work the ball to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, but the former Arsenal trainee saw his effort parried away by Walker.
Despite having more of the ball, Town soon found themselves a goal behind after a stunning long range effort from Smith, with the right-back looping the ball over Scott Loach and into the top corner after 26 minutes.
Blues were looking for an immediate response and it almost came two minutes later when Luke Chambers connected with an Emmanuel-Thomas corner but the defender failed to keep his header down from all of six yards.
Chopra was looking lively and the striker almost added to his impressive strike-rate from pre-season but was denied by a smart save by Walker following a goalmouth scramble.
But Town’s dominance was soon rewarded as Scotland pulled Blues back on level terms five minutes before the break. The striker shrugged off a couple of challenges from the Rovers defence before curling a low shot into the bottom corner from just outside the area.
The second half started at a frantic pace and ten minutes after the restart Town were handed the opportunity to take the lead when the referee awarded a penalty after Luke Hyam was tripped in the box.
Chopra stepped up but saw his spotkick kept out by the on-loan Walker, who pushed the ball behind for a corner.
However Town took full advantage as Emmanuel-Thomas swung in a centre that was met by the head of Smith, who planted his header beyond Walker and into the far corner after 56 minutes.
Town were now in the ascendency and a thunderous effort from Emmanuel-Thomas showed Blues’ signs of intent as it whistled just over Walker’s bar after 64 minutes.
With 20 minutes left on the clock Town almost produced a goal of real quality. A lovely flowing move that involved almost every member of the side eventually saw the ball fall to Chopra who just failed to apply the finishing touch.
Despite being in control of the game, Town were almost undone with 12 minutes remaining as David Clarkson crept in unmarked at the back-post but could only poke his shot wide of Loach’s goal.
Four minutes later and Matt Harrold should really have done better when he connected with a dangerous centre into the Town box, but the big striker headed high over Loach’s goal after beating Smith in the air.
And Town made the visitors pay for that miss as Cresswell wrapped up the win with six minutes reaming as he headed home from inside the six yard box, after Emmanuel-Thomas’ initial effort was palmed into the left-back’s path by Walker.
That’s the way it stayed as Town progressed to the next round and will now focus their attention to the first league game of the season, when Blues entertain Blackburn at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm).
Town: Loach, Edwards, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Hyam, Luongo, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin (Burke 88), Scotland (Stevenson 88), Chopra. Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Whight, Ainsley, Lawrence.
Bristol Rovers: Walker, Smith, Virgo, Gill (Lund 61), Paterson, Brown, Norburn (Clucus 63), Clarkson, Brown, Anyinsah (Clarke 79), Harrold. Subs not used: Harding, Gough, Staley.
Att: 8, 645 (264 visiting fans)