Ipswich Town consigned League One rivals Portsmouth to another defeat yesterday evening as the the Tractor Boys secured a bumper 4-0 win at Fratton Park.
Joint third-tier top scorer Macauley Bonne opened the scoring after capitalising on Gavin Bazunu’s costly indecisiveness in the Portsmouth box, before killing the game after the interval with goals from Conor Chaplin, Sone Aluko and substitute Wes Burns.
After succumbing to Cambridge United’s late fightback in the 2-2 away draw at the weekend, the Tractor Boys are now back on track with boss Paul Cook recording a bitter-sweet win over his former side on the south coast.
Have Ipswich Town had a higher or lower average attendance compared to these 23 sides this season?
This latest result will only put Portsmouth’s manager Danny Cowley under an immense amount of pressure after falling to 17th in the League One table, a very disappointing position to be in after competing for promotion last term.
Ipswich, meanwhile, climb up to 13th and find themselves just five points off the top six as things stand, a good position to be in after such a convincing win against a strong side.
There were many positives to take from this match after blowing away Cowley’s men and keeping a confidence-boosting clean sheet away from Portman Road.
But we have selected just three things we have clearly learnt about the Suffolk-based outfit after yesterday’s hammering of Pompey.
They have the mental strength to succeed in this division
Although it was great for Ipswich to be 1-0 up at half-time, something that gave them the platform to go on and extend their lead after the break, there was a lot of nervousness within the Suffolk side’s fanbase after giving up a 2-0 lead away at Cambridge United at the weekend.
Against an even better side in Portsmouth, with the likes of Marcus Harness, Ronan Curtis and John Marquis able to hurt any defence in the third tier, they could have even gone on to lose the game after going into the break with a slender lead.
But they pulled together and doubled their advantage less than ten minutes after the interval, before grabbing a vital third four minutes later.
The second, third and fourth goals were all the by-product of exceptional team moves, displaying their togetherness after such a setback at the weekend and making sure the points were safe before the hour mark instead of crumbling in front of a hostile crowd at Fratton Park.
Last night was an exceptional response to Saturday – and it’s one manager Cook can be proud of after enduring a tough start to 2021/22. Their physical capabilities can’t be doubted, and neither can their mental strength after this response.
Keep this up – and promotion is a real possibility.
Sone Aluko is here to stay
If the Tractor Boys’ mental strength yesterday evening can be summed up by one squad member, it would be 32-year-old Aluko.
After a frustrating start to his spell at Portman Road, only starting one league game in the third tier this term before last weekend’s match at Cambridge, he could have easily been despondent and out of sorts going into the tie at the Abbey Stadium. That only start came in the 5-2 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers, after all.
But he recorded a fantastic first-half brace against the U’s, before getting in on the act on the south coast with his side’s third. Pompey shot-stopper Bazunu may have made a mistake in letting the ball go under him, but the 32-year-old still showed such confidence in getting in the right position and taking the shot on.
Considering how badly his £7m move to previous side Reading worked out, even being shipped out on loan to China at one point and failing to make any sort of impact in Berkshire, he has responded extremely well to that failed spell and is currently making himself undroppable with his performances.
More goals could be on the horizon for the Nigerian, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bag a few assists as well and after playing his part in such an emphatic win against Pompey, he has to start at the weekend against Fleetwood Town.
Macauley Bonne has a real chance of finishing as League One’s top scorer this term
He may not have scored the prettiest goal at Fratton Park, dispossessing a dawdling Bazunu in the box, but he did exceptionally well to drag the ball back from the byline so comfortably and smash the ball home.
This is a sign of a born finisher and with his team thriving and creating three brilliantly worked goals in the second half, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue scoring at a similar rate to now, recording ten goals in 12 third-tier matches.
Tonight’s goal will only increase speculation about a potential recall, but parent club Queens Park Rangers haven’t had any trouble scoring this season and already have sufficient options up top to cause most second-tier sides real problems.
This is why it’s possible to see Bonne finishing as the league’s top scorer, especially if his loan club can climb up the League One table quickly and record more resounding league wins.
Last night shows they can tear teams apart – and that can only benefit the 25-year-old who will be hungry for more goals in his quest to play in the Championship next season – with or without the Tractor Boys.