IPSWICH Town were forced to settle for a share of the spoils after an entertaining and encouraging 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland.

Paul Lambert’s men impressed and dominated the opening half of their first home match in League One, deservedly leading through Luke Garbutt.

However, the Black Cats stepped up a gear after the break and grabbed their equaliser through Lynden Gooch, after a blunder by Blues skipper Luke Chambers.

Town were superb and dominated the first half, roared on by an expectant, enthusiastic crowd of 24,051.

They played with an intensity and confidence that was sorely lacking throughout last season’s turgid relegation campaign.

On the front foot from the start, the only disappointment was the fact they were only able to score once, despite creating other chances.

Sunderland looked disjointed and crestfallen, unable to keep the ball and continually misplacing passes.

In contrast, there weren’t any weak links in the Town side.

Across the pitch, they seemed in control and two of the most pleasing aspects were the swashbuckling performances of homegrown pair Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes.

The former deservedly kept his place in the heart of the defence, with Chambers returning after his suspension but replacing James Wilson.

Commanding in the air and strong in the tackle, it was an excellent performance from the youngster and further proof of his rich potential.

Ahead of him in midfield, Downes was everywhere – strong, robust and showing tireless energy.

It was great to witness and certainly no exaggeration to say the hosts deserved their interval lead.

The only goal of the first period came in the 15th minute – a clever, precision finish from Garbutt, last week’s goalscoring hero at Burton Albion.

Pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box, the Everton loanee drove forward before slotting home from a tight angle on the right.

The big question at the break was would Town be punished for only scoring once, despite their dominance?

Unfortunately, that proved the case following a far more even second half.

Changing their shape, Sunderland saw more of the ball and it was perhaps no surprise that they equalised – although the goal was wholly needless and preventable.

Chambers attempted to usher the ball out for a goal-kick but was instead robbed of possession by Marc McNulty, who pulled it back for Gooch to slam past Tomas Holy.

Sadly, it was an achingly familiar sight, with an individual error being gratefully seized upon.

So Town’s first home game ended with a sense of anti-climax, given their first-half dominance.

It felt like two points dropped – albeit the second period was far more even – but there were still numerous positives to appreciate and enjoy.