Ipswich 2-0 Arsenal U21: Ball and Ladapo earn  victory for hosts
Ipswich Town’s Richard Keogh - Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Dominic Ball and Freddie Ladapo were on target as a strong Ipswich Town side beat Arsenal U21s 2-0 in the EFL Trophy at Portman Road.

The opening goal came inside the first three minutes as the former Queens Park Rangers man scored his first goal for the Blues before Ladapo struck late on for his second goal in the competition.

Town were generally comfortable throughout on a night where they all but mathematically qualify for the knockout stages.

Pre-match

As expected, Ipswich boss Kieran McKenna made plenty of changes, eight in all from Saturday’s draw at Sheffield Wednesday. The strength of the Blues side may have come as a surprise to some, though.

George Edmundson, Leif Davis and Conor Chaplin all kept their places from the weekend while Richard Keogh captained the side. Tyreece John-Jules, who is on loan from Arsenal, was given permission by his parent club to be on the bench.

Arsenal U21s made five changes from their most recent game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Matt Smith, who has EFL experience and featured on the bench for the first team at Brentford on Sunday, came in to captain the Young Gunners.

Story of the match

The hosts were on the front foot early on. A neat turn from Ladapo on the edge of the box allowed him to slip in Davis left of centre, before his drilled cross was turned away by Zach Awe for a corner.

Town took the lead from that resultant corner. Davis’ delivery was attacked by Ladapo and dropped to Ball at the back post, who finished neatly under Gunners goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk.

Chances were few and far between until 26 minutes when Ipswich threatened a second goal. A looped cross from Kyle Edwards was knocked down by Ladapo into the path of Chaplin, before his effort was blocked over by Awe.

Ladapo attacked Davis’ corner straight at Graczyk before the two combined again, only for the former Rotherham United striker to head wide.

Chaplin went close when his curled effort was tipped onto the post following a short corner, but the set piece was required to be retaken in any case.

Ipswich turned the pressure up a notch. Davis, who was looking very involved down the left, grounded a free-kick towards Chaplin. After a mishit, Ball’s strike was well saved by the legs of Graczyk.

Ladapo almost instantly latched onto an Edwards ball to fire at the goalkeeper, then Marcus Harness dragged wide from 25 yards.

Arsenal’s youngsters ended the half positively without finding the final ball to test Vaclav Hladky.

Early in the second half, Davis was allowed to burst through the Arsenal defence and strike at Graczyk. His effort was parried out to Ladapo, who couldn’t sort out his positioning in time as he headed over the bar.

Ladapo, who was struggling in front of goal, found himself in space to shoot inside the box, but the strike trickled wide of the far post.

John-Jules entered the fray midway through the second period and was involved soon after, earning the Blues a corner after some good work down the left ended in a shot blocked by James Sweet.

Smith struck a free-kick over the bar from just outside the area after a foul from Edmundson in what was arguably the visitors’ best chance of the night.

A low cross from Kayden Jackson was well defended by Taylor Foran to prevent Ladapo from getting a clean connection from inside the box as the game entered the final ten minutes.

Ipswich doubled their lead with five minutes to go. Ladapo finally got the goal he had been craving after slotting underneath Graczyk after being put through one-on-one by Ball.

Ladapo was then replaced by Gerrard Buabo, who came on for his Ipswich debut.

Keogh soon took evasive action to deny Arsenal a goal back when he cleared after Hladky was caught out of his six-yard box.

John-Jules fired straight at Graczyk in stoppage time and Edwards flashed wide as Ipswich closed out a 2-0 victory under the lights.

Ipswich travel to Plymouth Argyle in a televised clash this Sunday while Arsenal U21s return to their league action with a trip to Burnley on Friday.

Player of the Match

Dominic Ball was involved in both goals on what was only his second start for the club after the first game in this competition against Northampton Town.

His goal was taken well, with a slotted finish at the back post. His pass for Ladapo's goal was excellently timed and allowed the striker the right amount of time to pick his finish, which he duly did.

Sitting as the deeper of the two central midfielders, Ball can be impressed with another 90 minutes under his belt after picking up an injury late in pre-season.

Match information

Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Davis (Donacien 64), Edmundson, Keogh (c), Vincent-Young; Humphreys, Ball; Harness (Jackson 73), Chaplin (John-Jules 64), Edwards; Ladapo (Buabo 86). Subs: Hayes, Woolfenden, Armin.

Booked: Edwards, Edmundson, Ball.

Arsenal U21 (4-3-3): Graczyk; Quesada-Thorn (Walters 46), Awe, Foran, Sweet; Smith (c) (Vigar 90), Henry-Francis, Bandeira (Ibrahim 46); Sagoe (Ideho 86), Taylor-Hart (Cirjan 46), Butler-Oyedeji. Subs: Hillson, Kacurri.

Referee: James Oldham (Derbyshire).

Attendance: 5,236 (326 away).

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