Stuart says: Seven key talking points following Ipswich Town’s 4-2 home win against Nottingham Forest
PUBLISHED: 11:01 03 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 December 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town produced a display full of quality and spirit to beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 at Portman Road yesterday afternoon. STUART WATSON highlights the key talking points.
Joe Royle was keeping tabs on a couple of Everton loanees from afar, but Blues fans could have been forgiven for thinking he was still in charge given the ‘we’ll score more than you’ entertainment on show.
Backing a goalless half-time score at Portman Road in every match would have earned you a pretty profit during a dull 2016/17 campaign full of binary scorelines.
Now the obvious bet is for both teams to score when it comes to Ipswich.
Town no longer seem to come out with the intent of keeping things tight and matching up the opposition. It’s been so refreshing to see them start on the front foot and focus on their own attacking strengths.
Town played some bold, crisp, attacking football in the first half.
Callum Connolly pounced to net a seventh minute rebound – his second goal in five days – then full-back crossed to full-back from open play as Dominic Iorfa headed home a Jonas Knudsen delivery in the 37th minute.
Twice Town were pegged back by fine Nottingham Forest strikes though.
Kieran Dowell caressed a curling shot into the far corner following a tapped free-kick (29), while Tyler Walker produced an expert finish on the angle (43).
Blues heads could have dropped. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves they simply stuck at the task.
Martyn Waghorn scored (51) and then set up Bersant Celina (67) to seal a fully deserved three points.
This group has got bags of spirit.
Waggy’s on fire
Martyn Waghorn has now scored 10 Championship goals meaning he has already surpassed the tally achieved by leading league scorer Tom Lawrence (9) last season.
In the continued absence of the injured Joe Garner (foot), the 27-year-old once again led the line superbly just as he had done in the midweek 1-0 win at Derby.
He was a constant menace throughout, chasing lost causes, forcing mistakes, always on the move and always demanding the ball.
His goal summed up his performance. Callum Connolly’s ball over the top was hopeful, but Waghorn turned an average pass into a good one, charging down Michael Mancienne, robbing him of possession out wide on the right, then driving inside before coolly rifling a low shot into the bottom corner.
He then produced a perfectly weighted low cross for Celina’s close-range tap-in before being subbed to a standing ovation towards the end.
Mick McCarthy has unearthed yet another bargain buy. At a reported £250k from Rangers, the former Leicester City forward is beginning to look like the best bit of summer business across any of the divisions.
Big Pole in the goal
Is there a better goalkeeper in the Championship than Bartosz Bialkowski?
The Polish custodian made an outrageous save in the 1-0 win at Derby in midweek, then followed it up with two more today.
With the score 1-0, he made an unbelievable double save – first denying Daryl Murphy’s close-range attempt, then somehow clawing the loose ball off the line ahead of the attacking Tyler Walker.
Then, in stoppage-time, he showed superb reactions to tip Murphy’s header onto the bar following a corner.
Town need to tie him down to a new deal sooner rather than later.
Callum Connolly arrived on loan from Everton late on transfer deadline day as cover for an injury-hit defence. His primary position was meant to be right-back.
The versatile 20-year-old was put into midfield due to injuries though and has been an absolute revelation. Royle told this paper the youngster’s best role may end up in the middle. He was right.
Not only does he battle and scrap, but he also puts his foot on the ball and finds a pass. He’s a goal threat too, both from set-pieces and open play. His thumping angled header at Derby was brilliant. Today he showed the instincts of a striker with an alert rebound finish.
Meanwhile, Cole Skuse has been much improved this season and is looking a far better all-round midfielder, rather than just a sitter. Those two have dovetailed nicely of late and are well-suited to this 4-2-3-1 system.
Even with Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop fit again, and Tom Adeyemi soon to return, it’s going to be hard to dislodge either.
Encouraging signs from Huws
There are clear signs that Emyr Huws is getting closer and closer to his influential best as he increasingly clocks up the miles following a long-term Achilles injury.
The Welsh international, playing in the No.10 role, was energetic, strong and positive as Town burst out of the blocks.
His clever reverse through ball leading to Celina’s goal was a thing of beauty.
And all without…
Luke Chambers (suspended), David McGoldrick (cut groin) and Joe Garner (foot) are all nailed on starters when available.
Town coped remarkably well without three senior players who would have all been desperate to face their former club. They coped well with a pretty lengthy injury list all season.
It highlights the strength in depth of this squad. It may be smaller in terms of numbers than last season, but a focus on quality over quantity is paying dividends.