Ipswich Town returns to Premier League after 22 years of absence

With a convincing win over Huddersfield, who had been demoted, Ipswich Town secured their place back in the Premier League for the first time since 2002 at a joyful Portman Road.

Wes Burns, a Wales international, gave them the lead in the first half, and Omari Hutchinson doubled it early in the second half with a shot from the edge of the box.

Only needing one point at kick-off to be sure of promotion, Kieran McKenna’s side were focused on doing it in style and much of the game was one-way traffic towards the Huddersfield goal.

The result also confirmed that the Terriers, a Premier League side themselves as recently as 2019, will go down to League One for the first time for 12 years.

Ipswich finish the season on 96 points – just one fewer than champions Leicester – and become the first team since Southampton in 2011-12 to go from the third tier to the first in successive seasons.

McKenna is only the fifth Ipswich manager to win promotion to the top flight, following Alf Ramsey – later Sir Alf – in 1961, Bill McGarry in 1968, John Lyall in 1992 and George Burley in 2000 – the latter doing so via the play-offs.

Ipswich made three changes to the side which started the midweek win at Coventry, including the restoration of joint top scorer Conor Chaplin, while goalkeeper Chris Maxwell was given his first Terriers start since Boxing Day by head coach Andre Breitenreiter.

Eight of the Ipswich team also started the 6-0 victory over Exeter which secured promotion last season, an indication of how McKenna has upgraded his squad at a cost of a few million pounds compared to promotion rivals buoyed up by Premier League parachute money.

Town were up against clubs including Forest Green, Accrington and Fleetwood last season, but the prospect of facing Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool next term ensured an atmosphere of huge anticipation at kick-off.

Wearing their Ed Sheeran-sponsored shirts – although the man himself was away at the Miami Grand Prix – Ipswich threatened early and Maxwell had to be quickly off his line to foil Omari Hutchinson as he pursued a ball over the top before Axel Tuanzebe’s deflected 20-yard shot hit the side netting.

George Hirst should have done better with a header after Chaplin had turned the ball back across the box following a corner and the latter then flashed a shot inches wide with Huddersfield guilty of giving the home side too much time and space to pick their passes.

Ipswich had their best chance yet as Chaplin split the Huddersfield defence with a perfectly weighted pass, but although Burns was just off target, he finally broke the deadlock moments later after Jack Rudoni was caught in possession by Hutchinson.

Rudoni was immediately taken off by Breitenreiter, replaced by Alex Matos, but the Ipswich siege continued and they thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Chaplin appeared to be pushed over in the box by Matty Pearson.

Sam Morsy stung Maxwell’s palms with a fierce 25-yard drive and Massimo Luongo was just too high as a first half in which Huddersfield failed to muster a single credible goal attempt came to an end.

And their defence was guilty of backing off soon after the re-start as Hutchinson fired in a shot which Maxwell got his hand to but could not keep out of his net.

From that point, it was all about damage limitation for the Terriers as Leif Davis was just too high with a half volley from Hutchinson’s cross and Luongo forced a brilliant top-corner save by Maxwell with a curling effort.

Josh Koroma belatedly forced Ipswich keeper Vaclav Hladky into action from Tom Iorpenda’s pass and only just cleared the bar with a side-footed effort as Huddersfield stirred themselves from their back-foot mindset to seek a consolation.

Jeremy Sarmiento fired Ipswich’s last opportunity over from Kayden Jackson’s cut-back but such was their command, McKenna was able to send on reserve keeper Christian Walton – who lost his first-choice status following an injury last summer – for the final joyous moments.


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