North Stander: Why frustrating start could be a good thing for Town

Tyreece John-Jules misses a second half chance at Portman Road against Bolton

Tyreece John-Jules misses a second half chance at Portman Road against Bolton - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Strange as it might sound, I think a slightly frustrating opening game of the season might just be a blessing in disguise.

It’s a very timely reminder - if we needed one - that escaping from this league certainly isn’t going to be easy, despite the undoubted strength of our squad, the power of our support, and our financial muscle.

As we saw last season, the third tier is packed with teams like Bolton, who will come along absolutely determined to spoil things for us. They’re not blessed with loads of talent, they’re not entertaining, but they can be very effective.

For some of Saturday’s game, it was so much like many of last season’s home games. We were clearly the better side, playing much the better football, but we lacked the ruthlessness needed to put the match to bed.

If Sam Morsy had put away his late chance - which he certainly should have done - then everything in the garden would have been rosy. Football doesn’t always work out like that, though.

So, hopefully the Bolton game will act as a bit of a wake-up call, and manage expectations.

Having said all that, there were plenty of positives to take from Saturday. After a shaky first half hour, when Bolton simply swamped us and strangled any creativity, we played some really good stuff.

Freddie Ladapo is closely marked by a Bolton defender at Portman Road

Freddie Ladapo is closely marked by a Bolton defender at Portman Road - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Plenty of fans are worried about where the goals will come from. Freddie Ladapo looks like a decent target man, who will work hard,  put himself about, hold the ball up and bring others into play.

But I think it’s true to say that we don’t have a 20-goal striker at the club. In that case, the goals will need to be shared around. The midfield and centre-halves will have to deliver their fair share.

It was great to see us score from an inventive corner. Glory be! They’ve obviously been working on what was a glaring weakness last season. Lee Evans took his goal really well, and almost scored from a header after another clever Conor Chaplin corner. Incidentally, I think Chaplin should take all of our corners. They’re much more threatening than Evans’.

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Let’s hope Evans can score regularly this season, something between six and ten would be good. If you remember, he only scored in one game last season - although it was a hat-trick!

Kayden Jackson blocks a James Trafford clearance at Portman Road

Kayden Jackson blocks a James Trafford clearance at Portman Road - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Another positive was the impact of the substitutes. I think the new five subs rule will be great for us. We surely have the strongest bench in the league. It must be an absolute nightmare for tiring defenders to see Sone Aluko. Kayden Jackson and Tyreece John-Jules coming on with half an hour to go.

Used cleverly - which Kieran McKenna will certainly do - they will have a devastating impact in tight games. I love Aluko. His sublime skills and inventiveness are such weapons at this level.

I was really looking forward to seeing Leif Davis, but was slightly surprised that he was starting having only been at the club for a couple of days. It showed in his performance, giving away a softish penalty, getting booked and eventually being taken off. He will need a bit of time to settle in.

We looked a lot better when Greg Leigh came on down the left-hand side. It was such a weakness last season. We were so right-sided, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Wes Burns will find himself very tightly marked this time around.

The atmosphere was fantastic on Saturday. Portman Road was a real cauldron. We have such incredible support, especially when you consider we’ve suffered two decades of under achievement. Those fans really do deserve success.

Finally, the most underwhelming aspect of Saturday was the much-vaunted big screen. I know I’m no spring chicken, and my eyesight probably isn’t what it was, but from my vantage point in the upper section of the Sir Bobby Robson stand, I couldn’t read a thing! I know I wasn’t the only one.

The one time it was useful was showing an instant replay of our goal. Other than that, it served no useful purpose whatsoever. Work in progress?

So, we’re up and running and it’s off to Forest Green Rovers next Saturday. A real David v Goliath clash. I feel a first win coming on.

Kieran McKenna on the opening day of the season at Portman Road

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna felt his side did enough to beat Bolton Wanderers on the opening day. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd