McCarthy wanted Ipswich to prove they can cope without captain Chambers... he got his wish
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 December 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Mick McCarthy declared pre-match that he hoped his side would not miss suspended captain Luke Chambers against Nottingham Forest.
And, in the main, the Ipswich boss got his wish.
While Dominic Iorfa took his skipper’s place in the side, Jordan Spence was the man pushed into Chambers’ role at the centre of the Ipswich defence, where he and Adam Webster dealt with the threat of former Blue Daryl Murphy for much of the afternoon as Town surged to a 4-2 win.
Yes, they conceded twice in the first half, but both were extremely well taken by the Forest forwards during a topsy-turvy opening 45 minutes.
Would Chambers have done anything to stop Kieran Dowell’s stunning free-kick? No. Could he have got across Tyler Walker to stop him lashing the ball home for Forest’s second? Only possibly.
Spence and Webster dealt with Murphy both in the air and on the ground, gave him little time on the ball and didn’t allow him in behind, with Webster in particular stealing possession from the Irishman time and again in the first half and giving him little room to breath.
Even when they were beaten by Murphy and the Irishman got a sniff of goal, Polish stopper Bartosz Bialkowski was there with three impressive saves to thwart his former team-mate.
Regular right-back Spence missed a header in the first half which led to Murphy’s first shot on goal, and a superb Bialkowski save following Walker’s follow up, and his positional switch allowed Blues fans to see a much-improved display from Iorfa following a shaky one at Aston Villa.
The Wolves loanee galloped forward at will, linked well with Grant Ward and was solid at the back, although he did occasionally find himself out of position on the right side as his over-eagerness got the better of him.
Both McCarthy and Ward insisted prior to this weekend’s game that, while Chambers’ leadership would be missed on the field, there would be plenty of players coming to the fore in his absence.
Cole Skuse took the armband once again and put in another tidy display in midfield, putting his foot in when needed and looking to launch Ipswich attacks whenever possible.
Even Chambers’ post-match victory fist pumps were taken care of, with Jonas Knudsen again taking on that role as he did in the Blues’ victory over Brentford in August.
But McCarthy also stated pre-match that Chambers’ return for next week’s visit to Middlesbrough was a formality regardless of the performance of his replacements – and that’s undoubtedly the right decision.
The former Forest man is the Blues’ leader – he showed that at Derby when he gathered the Town players together in a huddle following Callum Connolly goal – and his presence around the team in the Forest clash despite his suspension with will have been a boost.
The skipper has also arguably produced his best displays of the season during the Blues’ run of five games in 15 days, following a couple of shaky outings, with his partnership with Wesbter finally being able to blossom following a string of injuries to both defenders.
His return at the Riverside will be a boost to a team which should already be brimming with confidence following two impressive wins in a week.