Blues get new campaign off to an impressive start
Town progress to the second round of the Carabao Cup after a comfortable victory over Bristol Rovers at Portman Road.
Freddie Sears fired Town ahead in the first half with a simple finish, Blues then doubled their lead just before half-time through a Luke Chambers header from an Alan Judge corner.
Paul Lambert’s side were in control throughout the game and Blues made sure of their passage into the next round with a neat finish from Sears in the second half.
Stephen Ward and Aaron Drinan were handed their Town debuts, with Oli Hawkins and Corrie Ndaba also making their debuts for Town in the second half.
It was Drinan who had the first chance of the afternoon, the Irishman got in behind the Rovers back four but his left-footed shot was saved by Van Stappershoef.
Town then came close again, this time it was route one from Holy over the top of the Pirates defence but Judge’s effort was high and wide of the mark.
It was Town who broke the deadlock on 29. Nsiala set Drinan away down the right flank with a delightful pass and the Irishman picked out the unmarked Sears who finished calmly beyond Van Stappershoef from six-yards out.
Tomas Holy was called into action for the first time in the half, as Sam Nicholson burst through from midfield and got a powerful shot away but the Blues stopper was on hand to beat it away.
Town looked comfortable throughout the first half and Stephen Ward nearly doubled Town’s lead on 43 after a quick one two with Andre Dozzell, the left-back saw his low drive well-saved by Van Stappershoef.
Blues weren’t to be denied a deserved second goal before half-time, though. Luke Chambers met an in-swinging Judge corner at the near post and headed in to put Town in control of the Cup tie.
On 52, Freddie Sears teed up Jon Nolan who dug his half-volley into the ground from the edge of the area with Van Stappershoef smothering the ball. The Rovers ‘keeper then immediately set Josh Grant away down the left flank, his deep cross found Mark Little at the far post but the full-back sent his volley wide of the mark from six-yards out.
Town were beginning to assert themselves again in the second-half, Freddie Sears should’ve added a third for Blues with the ball breaking to him six-yards out but he couldn’t get enough purchase on the strike to beat Van Stappershoef.
Drinan nearly topped off a fine debut performance with a goal, Judge picked Drinan out with a beautiful cross but the Irishman’s effort was saved well by Van Stappershoef.
Freddie Sears scored his second of the afternoon and Town’s third to make it 3-0 on 68. Bishop found Sears at the far post with a fine delivery and the Town forward squeezed the ball home underneath Van Stappershoef.
Town were hungry for more goals and kept pressing the Rovers back line but it ended 3-0 with Town safely through to the next round.
Luke Chambers appeared to pick up an injury and was replaced late on in the game by Corrie Ndaba who was making his Town debut.
Blues will learn their second round and potential third round opponents tomorrow at 2pm.
Town: Holy, Chambers (C) (Ndaba 80), Nsiala, Woolfenden, Ward, Nolan, Dozzell, Bishop (Edwards 79), Judge, Drinan (Hawkins 69), Sears
Subs: Cornell, Wilson, Huws, Lankester
Booked: Dozzell, Woolfenden
Bristol Rovers: Van Stappershoef, Little (Upson 74), Leahy, Ehmer (C), Baldwin (Hare 67), Kilgour, Grant, Westbrooke, Nicholson, Hargreaves (Ayunga 45), Mitchell-Lawson
Subs: Andre, Harries, Kelly, Walker