The talk before the game was largely regarding matters that wouldn’t affect anything on the pitch at Hillsborough… Firstly, Barry Bannan was missing in action and didn’t make the bench at all, and secondly – high up in the Kop – there was some pre-match activity that saw a Dejphon Chansiri banner defaced and then removed.
Onto the pitch. It was, unsurprisingly the visitors who had the best of the opening stages. They kept the ball excellently and played with the sort of swagger that anybody watching the second half of last season in League One will have recognised – every member of their starting XI was part of the side that blitzed the third tier in 2023.
Freddi Ladapo, who has enjoyed himself at Hillsborough a couple of times in the past, almost added another goal to his tally after the Owls were carved open with 14 minutes on the clock, but Devis Vasquez made himself big and was up to the challenge.
Meanwhile, Sam Morsy and Akin Famewo were booked early doors, the former for a foul on Juan Delgado and the latter for kicking the ball away – James Linington clearly out to enforce the new set for time-wasting guidelines.
For all their possession, though, Ladapo’s chance was the only one that the visitors really managed to chisel out, and with just under half an hour on the clock Wednesday had kept them at bay. Dominic Iorfa wouldn’t make the 30-minute mark, however, and after going down a couple of times before he was ultimately replaced by Di’Shon Bernard.
It looked for a moment like they’d lose another shortly afterwards, Famewo landing awfully on his neck after a coming-together in the middle of the park, and Linington’s decision not to stop play was one that left the Wednesday bench fuming. Thankfully he was able to continue after a receiving a bit of treatment.
Vasquez was called into action once again as the half came to an end, saving Wes Burns’ strike well and then watching on as Conor Chaplin skewed his effort wide. Only one of the sides had created anything from open play in the opening stanza, and it certainly wasn’t the hosts.
And then it came. Leif Davis found himself with acres of space after a delightful ball over the top from former Owl, Massimo Luongo, and his cutback to Chaplin was inch perfect. His finish was far from clean, and may have gone in off a Wednesday play following a scramble in front of Vasquez, but the back of the net was found anyway. 1-0 to Ipswich.
Most of the added time was eaten up by an injury to Davis, and he limped off before a halftime whistle that was met by boos from the home support. Ashley Fletcher and John Buckley were brought on immediately after the break to try and turn things around – Lee Gregory and Michael Smith made way.
A booking for Callum Paterson came within minutes of the second half kicking off, and it wasn’t long until Vasquez was called into action once more, coming up with a strong hand to keep Harry Clarke out. Where Ipswich looked confident in their plan, the Xisco’s side seemed to remain fully in a state of flux.
Then came the chants that had first been heard at Cardiff City, ‘Dejphon Chansiri, get out of our club’ - first from the Kop and then from the North. The atmosphere has changed significantly since that night against Peterborough United, and not for the better.
On came pantomime villain, George Hirst, to a round of boos, and he very nearly doubled the Tractor Boys’ lead shortly afterwards, thankfully another big save keeping the score down to something respectable.
Ipswich never looked under any real pressure, and though Anthony Musaba was thrown on for the last 15 minutes or so the Owls never seemed to threaten properly other than one dangerous Josh Windass ball into the box that couldn’t be met by anyone. Boos rang around at the final whistle, followed by more chants about the chairman, and as an entity Wednesday are so far away from the tracjectory they seemed to be going in last season.
Kieran McKenna’s side may have come up with the Owls, but that’s about the only similiarity that you could find between the two as Wednesday’s search for a first win of the season continues.