Stu says: Four observations from Ipswich Town’s 2-0 home win against Reading
PUBLISHED: 18:42 16 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:56 16 December 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Goals from Callum Connolly and Joe Garner saw Ipswich Town beat Reading 2-0 at Portman Road in a Championship match this afternoon. STUART WATSON highlights some of the key talking points.
Only one stat matters...
Mick McCarthy was asked about Reading being the Championship’s pass-masters in the build-up to this game. He quipped ‘Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Reading are all possession-based teams... and we did alright against them’.
Once again a team came to Portman Road, enjoyed the lion’s share of possession (72%) and left with their tails between their legs.
It just shows that only one stat matters... putting the ball in the net. And ultra-clinical Town are doing that regularly this season.
Direct football can be painfully dull and predictable to watch when executed poorly, as Town fans can testify. Watching a team pass it sideways across the back four can be equally as dull and ineffectual though
It was dull as ditchwater at Portman Road last season. So many first halves finished goalless. Games seemed to drag on forever.
This season they have flown by. It’s been so refreshing to see Town look to stamp their own authority on home games from the start rather than setting off to nullify.
Right-back Jordan Spence had the crowd off their feet with some marauding runs, Martyn Waghorn pressed tirelessly from the front, Joe Garner ruffled feathers, Callum Connolly and Cole Skuse provided energy, while Bersant Celina took on his marker whenever possible.
Pressing, pace, drive, dynamism, fluidity, balance, an aggressive edge – everything that was lacking is now in abundance.
Town have now scored 22 goals in their 11 home games – eight more and they will have equalled their tally from the entirety of last season.
Fortress Portman Road
That’s seven wins from 11 on Suffolk soil. It really should be eight when you consider the draw that was plucked from the jaws of victory against Sheffield Wednesday. The only blots on the copybook are Fulham, Bristol City and, gallingly, Norwich (they really were there for the taking weren’t they?).
Forget losing at the likes of Cardiff, Villa and Middlesbrough. Away points at such places – like the win at Derby – must be viewed as a bonus. It will be the same at league-leaders Wolves next weekend.
It’s home form which provides the cornerstone to success in the Championship. When Town finished sixth in 2014/15 they racked up 15 home wins, a record surpassed by none in the division. If they are going to beat the odds to make the top-six again (and the gap now stands at just two points) then a similar record is required.
Winning back hearts and minds
Today’s entertainment was played out in front of a crowd of 13,832. That’s Town’s lowest league attendance since October 1998 (a 1-0 defeat to Swindon).
A busy Christmas shopping weekend, small away following and cold weather didn’t help, but nevertheless it’s proof that McCarthy and co still have work to do in order to truly win back hearts and minds.
Everything we realistically could have asked for has transpired so far this season – more goals, more entertainment, game-time for youngsters...
There is still clearly a hangover still in terms of the ill-feeling that grew during a couple of years of forgettable footballing fare and the general apathy surrounding 16 years of treading water in the Championship.
Every minor set-back, such as defeat at Boro, is seized upon by critics. If the home product remains this good though (the hard work has been done in that respect), and McCarthy can maintain an air of decorum and humility (not helped himself at times) then the fans should flock back.