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Forest Green 1-2 Ipswich Town: Burchnall takes positives in defeat

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Forest Green boss Ian Burchnall heaped praise on his plucky side after they more than matched League One big guns Ipswich Town.

Goals in the first-half from Marcus Harness and Sam Morsy handed McKenna’s Tractor Boys their first win of the embryonic season.

Burchnall’s Rovers improved after the break, substitute Josh March pulling a goal back on 65 minutes on a sun-kissed afternoon in the Cotswolds. 

And Burchnall felt Cameron Burgess’ stoppage-time tug on March warranted a red card: “We didn’t get the decision and it was disappointing, but it looked it and a brave decision for the referee if he’s going to send him off, but he didn’t and I’m not sure he got it right. But look, we have to live with it.” 

Burchnall heaped praise on his side after going two goals down in the first half: “I think we  matched them in many areas today and I’ll be very surprised if they’re not right at the very top of the league this season.” 

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Reece Brown cuts a frustrated figure Pic: Dennis Goodwin/ Pro Sports Images

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna insisted he wants more from his side as they negated plucky  League One newbies Forest Green. 

McKenna said: “We have to keep improving because I thought we should have been more than two goals ahead, but it was good to get the three points and it was important as a group, especially with new players bedded in and it’s important you get that feeling of a win on the road.” 

And the former Manchester United coach was pleased with the clinical first-half finishes from Harness and Morsy, he added: ” Marcus (Harness) is really instinctive in the box, shoots off both feet with good power and Sam produced an outstanding finish.”. 

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Club doctor Jim Holmes and physio Joe Baker help Udoka Godwin Malife off after the defender limped off in the first-half with a hamstring injury Pic: Dennis Goodwin/Pro Sports Images

In their first-ever League One home game, Rovers named an unchanged team from the one that started the season with a 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers.

Rovers delved into the transfer window just 48 hours earlier – Connor Wickham, signed on a short-term deal, didn’t make the squad, but former Crystal Palace winger Sean Robertson started on the bench.

Rovers came out swinging – Regan Hendry fizzing over. Nonetheless, the Tractor Boys were quickly into their stride –  Harness was picked out by Jai Donacien who induced a plunging save from Luke McGee. Morsy found the gloves of McGee when directing his free header wide and then McGee’s spectacular palmed save stopped Freddie Lapado’s rocket from finding the top corner. 

Rovers lost defender Udoka Godwin-Malife on 27 minutes – the unlucky defender limping off after 27 minutes.

However, Ipswich nosed in front on 37 minutes – Harness fizzed in after a period of pinball in the box. Deep into first-half stoppage Morsy was afforded space to bend a sumptuous strike over McGee from the edge of the box. 

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Luke McGee pulled off a number of fine saves Pic: Dennis Goodwin/ Pro Sports Images

Rovers got back into the match with 25 minutes to go, March tucking the ball home after substitute Armani Little saw his strike blocked.  

Christian Walton kept Ipswich’s noses in front – parrying a March volley and blocking substitute Robertson’s follow-up. 

March thought he had grabbed an equaliser for Rovers, but the offside flag spared Ipswich as Rovers looked for parity. 

Rovers were baying for a red card when March was pulled back by Burgess, who was afforded a yellow in stoppage-time as Ipswich negated the nine minutes of added time. 

STAT ATTACK

FOREST GREEN ROVERS: McGee 8, O’Keeffe 8, Cargill 6, Stevenson 6, (sub Little 61, 7), Hendry 8, Matt 6, Moore-Taylor 7, (sub Casey 87), McAllister 6, (sub Robertson 61, 6), Godwin-Malife 7 (sub Bernard 27, 6), Davis 6, (sub March 46, 8), Brown 6

Subs: Thomas, Casey, Bunker.

Booked: Stevenson (50, foul), Brown (78, foul)

IPSWICH TOWN: Walton; Donacien, Edmundson, Burgess; Burns (sub Vincent-Young) 83, Evans, Morsy, Davis (sub Leigh 68), Chaplin (sub 69 Aluko), Harness (sub 69 John-Jules), Ladapo (sub Jackson 83).

Subs: Hladky, Leigh, Vincent-Young, Aluko, Edwards, John-Jules, Jackson.

Booked: Burgess (89, foul)

Star Man: Luke McGee

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 4,015

Away fans: 1,220

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