Andy's Angles: Five observations from Ipswich Town's 3-0 Boxing Day loss at QPR
PUBLISHED: 16:58 26 December 2018
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Ipswich Town were beaten 3-0 at Queens Park Rangers this afternoon. Andy Warren gives his take.
Costly Christmas gift
We’ve been here before this season.
Ipswich Town were well in this game prior to the opening goal; moving the ball around nicely, winning their fair share of the physical battle and using possession to make space for Ellis Harrison.
But Pawel Wszolek’s opener was a body blow which they never truly recovered from.
Jon Nolan’s excellent work in the final third looked like it would be creating an attacking opening for the Blues, but he was crowded out and tried to recycle possession at the back. His attempted pass to Matthew Pennington never looked to be on and so it proved as he gifted possession to Nahki Wells. The Bermudan’s shot was saved by Dean Gerken who was unable to get up and stop the rebound from the Polish winger.
It was a horrible goal to concede.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Lynch beat Pennington to the ball with a header which proved too strong for Gerken’s outstretched hand.
Paul Lambert has eradicated many of the individual errors which characterised Paul Hurst’s Ipswich reign and has encouraged his side to express themselves, insisting any individual errors are on his head, but he will surely be tearing his hair out given the manner in which his side lost this game.
To their credit, the Blues kept playing as they faced an uphill battle in the second half but you never truly felt they were battering on the Rangers door.
Pennington headed over, Trevoh Chalobah had a shot saved by Joe Lumley and both Jack Lankester and Jordan Roberts were sent on as the Blues chased a route back.
But the game was up when Wells found himself in space on the edge of the box, dropped a shoulder to faint away from Chambers and expertly found the bottom corner.
Confidence of young midfielders
On a day of few positives from an Ipswich perspective, the performances of central midfielders Flynn Downes and Trevoh Chalobah were rare moments of light.
The impact Lambert has had on both of these young men has been significant, trusting in their ability and giving them the confidence to express themselves.
Prior to the opening goal the Blues had the better of the midfield battle, with Downes snaffling loose balls and finding a team-mate while Chalobah was able to burst out of the line and support his forwards.
The Chelsea loanee is beginning to cut out the mistakes which made him a nervous watch at times, earlier in the season, with both young men more comfortable on the ball.
The duo’s influence dropped off slightly as the game got away from the Blues, but the pair youngsters can not have done more for Lambert given their lack of experience.
Expect experienced midfield recruits in January.
In from the start
It’s been a funny old season for Grant Ward.
A mainstay under Mick McCarthy, the former Tottenham man has been in and out of the Ipswich side under both Paul Hurst and Paul Lambert and has played in central midfield, out wide and at right wing-back.
He was the most consistent player in blue for a run of games at the end of Hurst’s reign and has also been sidelines.
This was his second start under the current Ipswich boss and he had bright moments but also struggled to make an impact at others before being replaced by Lankester after taking a knock. He left the game on a stretcher after making his own way off the pitch.
He’s at his best when he’s confident, running at his man and taking him on but we’ve not seen that consistently enough of late.
Hopefully his injury does not keep him sidelined and disjoint a season already struggling for momentum.
The bigger picture
The fixture list saw the four teams immediately above the Blues at the start of play go head-to-head in the proverbial relegation six-pointers.
Bolton beat Rotherham and Millwall claimed three points at home to Reading, meaning the gap to safety has grown to seven points heading into next weekend’s trip to Middlesbrough.
With just under half the season left to go, Ipswich have time to be the masters of their own destiny and it will be their performances and results which determine whether or not they will get out of this hole. But a bit of help will come in handy.
Home games with Millwall and Rotherham inside the first two weeks of 2019, as well as possible movement in the transfer market, are looking more and more vital for Lambert and his men.