The Hatters booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup tonight with a comprehensive win over Sky Bet League One side Ipswich at Kenilworth Road, marking manager Graeme Jones’ first victory in charge of the Town.
On a night when deadline day loan signings Luke Bolton, James Bree and Izzy Brown all made impressive full debuts, as well as suummer recruit Brendan Galloway, there was a first for Lloyd Jones too, as the centre-half got the ball rolling with his opening goal for the club in the eighth minute.
Elliot Lee doubled the advantage from the penalty spot ten minutes later, then Andrew Shinnie – wearing the captain’s armband for the first time – made it three with a second-half free-kick.
Ipswich pulled one back with just over 15 minutes to play through teenage debutant Armando Dobra, but it was the Town who progressed to a second round tie away at Cardiff, and the perfect opportunity to avenge last Saturday’s last-minute defeat in the Welsh capital.
Jones made 11 changes from that game, with James Shea returning in goal behind a back four of Bolton, Bree, Jones and Brendan Galloway, another making his competitive debut for the club.
Luke Berry anchored the midfield with Shinnie, Brown and Lee ahead of him, supplying a front two of Harry Cornick and Kazenga LuaLua, who played his first 45 minutes since returning to the club three weeks ago.
Brown started with a delightful turn with his first touch, ghosting past his man in midfield, before sending a shot on target with just 80 seconds on the clock.
Before long, Cornick was racing onto a slide-rule pass from Lee, only for his shot to be deflected onto the crossbar.
The goal wasn’t long in coming, and Brown was the architect, bending in a lovely cross that Jones met with a thumping header into the top corner that gave Tractor Boys’ keeper Will Norris no chance.
Dobra shot straight at Shea and Andre Dozzell bent a free-kick high over the bar as Ipswich mounted a response, but by the 18th minute the lead had doubled – Lee brought down by Josh Emmanuel just inside the box, and the ex-West Ham man sending Norris the wrong way from the spot.
Ipswich enjoyed a decent spell of possession over the next ten minutes, but LuaLua was unlucky with an attempted flick around the back of his heel, before the forward had another effort blocked after Brown set Cornick free down the right, Berry side-footing the loose ball just wide from 18 yards.
Brown was running the show, and within 35 minutes the fans were singing the new-boy’s name as he drove at the Ipswich defence and slipped the ball to his left to Lee, whose attempted curler was beaten behind by Norris.
Shea was keen to get in on the act and his drilled 70-yard ball over left-back Emyr Huws’ head set Cornick clear again on the right, and Shinnie almost made it pay a dividend with a shot that whistled just past the post, shortly before Berry saw another effort from outside the box blocked.
Jones made a double change at half-time, bringing on Josh Neufville and Martin Cranie for Bolton and LuaLua.
Brown was delighting the crowd with his balance and vision, and after carrying the ball from halfway, he once again slipped Lee in to his left for the attacking move that led to the third goal, with Shinnie being tripped on the edge of the box, then curling the 55th-minute free-kick home himself.
Brown’s next act was to tee up Lee for a shot that was straight at Norris, then Cornick down the right, picked out the Chelsea loanee, but his shot deflected wide for a corner.
Ipswich mounted a rare attack just after the hour when Shea had to be alert to tip over an Andre Dozzell drive, then Galloway cleared a dangerous looking effort from Roberts before Brown left the pitch to a standing ovation in the 66th minute.
Norris raced off his line to deny Callum McManaman, Brown’s replacement, after some wonderful link-up play with Lee on the edge of the box, then the former Wigan and West Brom forward let fly with a left-footer from 25 yards that drew an oohh from the crowd, but it flew high and handsome.
Ipswich pulled a goal back with a deflected strike from Dobra with just over a quarter of an hour to go, but almost immediately Bree came within a whisker of restoring the three-goal advantage as he climbed highest to meet a skied clearance from a corner, but his header went just wide with Norris flapping.
TOWN: Shea, Bolton (Neufville 46), Bree, Jones, Galloway, Berry, Shinnie ©, Brown (McManaman 66), Lee, LuaLua (Cranie 46), Cornick. Subs: Jervis, Moncur, Panter, Stech.
Goals: Jones 8, Lee (pen) 18, Shinnie 55
IPSWICH: Norris, Emmanuel, Chambers ©, Wilson, Clements, Edwards (Rowe 61), Dozzell, Huws (Downes 66), Dobra, Roberts, Judge (Jackson 77). Subs: Holy (GK), Skuse, Jackson, Nolan
Yellows: Judge, Roberts, Dobra, Emmanuel
Goal: Dobra 74
REFEREE: Brett Huxtable
ATT: 5,433 (1,064 away)