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Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 loss at Cambridge United

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02 30 August 2020

James Norwood returned to action in a pre-season friendly at Cambridge United last weekend. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

James Norwood returned to action in a pre-season friendly at Cambridge United last weekend. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

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Ipswich Town finished their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 defeat at League Two side Cambridge United yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.

Luke Woolfenden doesn't give his opponent much room at Cambridge United Picture Pagepix LtdLuke Woolfenden doesn't give his opponent much room at Cambridge United Picture Pagepix Ltd

UNDERWHELMING

Ipswich Town’s most underwhelming performance of pre-season came against their lowest ranked opposition.

After playing some decent football against match-ready Premier League duo Tottenham and West Ham, the hope was we’d see just how effective this new slick, intense brand of football the team has been working on this summer would be against a team whose level is far closer matched to their own. Instead, it was all a bit ponderous.

Paul Lambert made 10 changes from midweek in an attempt to minimise the risk of injuries and get all his squad up to speed for the big kick-off. His challenge to a bloated squad has been ‘show me why you should start’, but few answered that question positively at The Abbey Stadium.

James Norwood with a near post headed chance during his second half appearance at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Norwood with a near post headed chance during his second half appearance at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

MORE: ‘We’re massively disappointed... It makes the manager’s decision easier’ – Taylor on Cambridge friendly loss

The build-up play was too slow and deep. It gave Cambridge plenty of time to get organised behind the ball.

When that didn’t work, the Blues broke with recent traditions and started to go more direct. That brought little joy too.

In the end, Ipswich finished the game having produced just one meaningful attempt on goal – substitute James Norwood directing a stooping header against the base of the post from a Jack Lankester corner.

James Norwood with a near post headed chance during his second half appearance at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Norwood with a near post headed chance during his second half appearance at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Cambridge’s goal, scored in the 56th minute, came via a raid counter-attack from an Ipswich corner. Striker Paul Mullin beat young left-back Tommy Smith in a straight foot race and, after his shot came back off the inside of the woodwork, former Town man Paul Digby was there to gobble up the rebound.

The U’s, who just seemed to have a bit more purpose about them in and out of possession, had created the better chances from open play and forced several corners. Joe Neal forced Tomas Holy into a decent save towards the end, while James Wilson had to clear off the line in the dying moments after a scramble in the box. Mark Bonner’s men were full value for the win.

TALE OF TWO STRIKERS

Alan Judge tries a speculative effort from inside his own half during the second half at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdAlan Judge tries a speculative effort from inside his own half during the second half at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

This was Oli Hawkins’ first appearance in an Ipswich Town shirt.

The 6ft 6in striker has, as the old cliche goes, ‘good feet for a big man’. On the rare occasions that Town worked an opening in the final third, Hawkins produced some deft little bits of link-up play.

He is, as you’d imagine, good in the air too. Time and time again he was the one heading away Cambridge corner deliveries – an over-looked quality that Daryl Murphy always used to bring to the party, as well as his goals.

His presence up top does provide the temptation to go long though. Twice James Wilson pumped straight balls towards his general direction in the first half. Jon Nolan and Alan Judge both tried more flighted balls over the top which proved too strong too.

James Wilson talks to Jack Lankester during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Wilson talks to Jack Lankester during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

MORE: ‘You have to earn the right to be in the squad photo’ – Taylor on omission of young quintet

It was a shame Ipswich couldn’t get in many dangerous crosses from wide areas for Hawkins to attack.

Norwood replaced Hawkins at the break for his first game of football since undergoing groin surgery in February.

It was hard to tell if he was playing with fire of frustration. There was certainly an edge there. The 29-year-old was constantly swearing at himself or no-one in particular.

James Wilson clears the ball off the line after a Thomas Holy save during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Wilson clears the ball off the line after a Thomas Holy save during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

His diving header that hit the post was brave. And it was his shot that was blocked in the build-up to that corner too, following a nice reverse pass from Jack Lankester.

SENIORS DIDN’T STEP UP

After Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop laid down a marker with their synchronised displays against West Ham, it was over to some more senior midfield counterparts.

Ipswich Town assistant manager Stuart Taylor wasn't happy with the team's performance at Cambridge United. Photo: Pagepix LtdIpswich Town assistant manager Stuart Taylor wasn't happy with the team's performance at Cambridge United. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

Jon Nolan dropped too deep to get the ball instead of pressing high and leaving that task to Brett McGavin.

Emyr Huws had the odd burst with the ball in midfield without ever really taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

MORE: Player reports: How the Ipswich Town players performed in their 1-0 loss at Cambridge

Alan Judge played wide left. It is, as we’ve seen plenty of times before, not his forte. The Irishman drifts all over the pitch looking for the ball.

Youngster Corrie Ndaba clears the ball  during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdYoungster Corrie Ndaba clears the ball during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

It was all a bit too telegraphed rather than telepathic, mechanical rather than mercurial.

Lankester, who hasn’t played a competitive game since January 2019, did grow into the game as it wore on. He showed for the ball more and more and looked the most likely to unpick the lock.

Corrie Ndaba produced another assured display in central defence after coming on at half-time. He’s done his reputation the world of good this pre-season.

Armando Dobra dribbles the ball into the defence during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdArmando Dobra dribbles the ball into the defence during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

NO CAPTAIN

With Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward both rested and Cole Skuse injured, the question was ‘who will be captain?’ The answer, it seems, was no-one.

Cambridge’s official team sheet had the ‘c’ next to an unlikely name in 18-year-old left-back Smith. That was an error.

The eagle-eyed among you have spotted that Huws was wearing the blue and white striped armband, which blends in nicely with the shirt, though that wasn’t exactly apparent from the Welshman barking orders and encouragement.

Idris El Mizouni crosses the ball during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdIdris El Mizouni crosses the ball during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

This was a pretty quiet Town team. Keeper David Cornell was constantly shouting ‘no voices’ at the outfielders in front of him. The hosts were certainly more vocal.

INJURY UPDATE

Kane Vincent-Young’s nagging Achilles problem has to be a concern given his key role in this team. Janoi Donacien had a solid game defensively in his continued absence but was then forced off himself with a ‘little knock’. That left James Wilson, only just back from a calf problem himself, playing at right-back.

The referee cautions James Norwood about his comments to officials during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdThe referee cautions James Norwood about his comments to officials during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Teenager Smith played at left-back because Myles Kenlock was again left out as a precaution due to a tight thigh and Town felt it prudent not to play 35-year-old Stephen Ward for a second time in five days.

MORE: Cambridge United 1-0 Ipswich Town: Lambert’s Blues end pre-season in defeat

Striker Kayden Jackson sat out a second game in a row with a ‘little groin injury’, winger Gwion Edwards wasn’t risked after he ‘felt his groin a little bit’, while midfielder Cole Skuse was left out after a ‘little tweak that opened up his knee’ in training.

After such a long break from football, it’s probably sensible that Town take no chances with players given the volume of games that are on the horizon.

Disappointment for David Cornell after his team concedes at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdDisappointment for David Cornell after his team concedes at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Cup games against Bristol Rovers and Arsenal U21s will, it seems, be used as an extension of pre-season before the League One opener against Wigan on September 13.

New signing Ollie Hawkins during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdNew signing Ollie Hawkins during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Emyr Huws during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdEmyr Huws during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

New signing Ollie Hawkins during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdNew signing Ollie Hawkins during the game at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd

James Norwood clatters into a tackle at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Norwood clatters into a tackle at Cambridge United. Picture Pagepix Ltd


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