Sunday Snap: Flying under the radar, a landmark, McGoldrick’s display and a moment you may have missed
PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 23 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Andy Warren takes a snappy look back at the events and talking points surrounding Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.
For the second week in a row, Matthew Pennington was the pick of the Ipswich Town players in my book.
Aside from his choice of footwear, which tested the nerves in the second half as he slipped to the turf with worrying regularity at big moments, the Everton loanee was solid throughout and defended superbly whenever called upon.
Positionally he’s excellent and physically he battles above his 6ft frame, while he takes charge of situations both in the air and on the ground.
He’s also the most comfortable of the Ipswich defenders with the ball at his feet – a vital trait in a Paul Lambert team and one he learned in the Everton youth system.
If you ran an ‘Ipswich Town player of the year’ poll now, then surely Pennington would not be too far away from the top of it.
Under the radar
Ipswich Town’s full-backs have been under the microscope of late but both Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen put in solid displays in this game.
Spence, who performed well against Wigan a week ago, did exceptionally well to beat Billy Sharp to a back post header while Knudsen was better positionally than in his Wigan display and came up with two good, late, clearances. He also played a part in the Ipswich goal.
Both need to find a level of consistency but this was a good display, particularly given the pressure they found themselves under early on as Sheffield United pushed men forward in wide areas.
Could have done more
Gwion Edwards’ Ipswich Town career started with a bang but is now lacking the same spark.
He scored within five minutes of his debut in August and was a terror to defences in the early weeks of the season, thanks in part to a fearlessness when it came to running at defenders.
Now, though, his first touch lets him down on occasions and he’s finding it harder and harder to beat his man. Some of his decision making came up short in this game, with Edwards guilty of holding onto the ball too long, playing with his head down and not spotting a killer pass.
The ability is still there and Edwards is sure to come good again. Maybe a bit of patience is needed, though.
Ellis Harrison’s 38th-minute strike was just the 17th Ipswich goal at Portman Road in 2018. That’s a grim statistic and, as such, Harrison’s goal deserves to be celebrated.
It was a great goal, too, in many ways symbolising Paul Lambert’s football philosophy.
Ipswich were high in both tempo and press, with Harrison and Sears putting Sheffield United under pressure, forcing a lose pass and giving Knudsen the chance to push up and win the ball back. Harrison did the rest.
One to forget
This was just referee Andy Woolmer’s fourth game at Championship level this season (he also took charge of Ipswich’s 1-1 draw with Preston in November).
He certainly won’t be on the Christmas card list of many inside Portman Road following a game in which consistency in decision-making was lacking.
The game started with play being allowed to continue on occasions when it probably should have been pulled back, but by the end Woolmer’s whistle was dominant.
Then there was the clash between Trevoh Chalobah and Oliver Norwood. Chris Wilder has probably surmised this correctly, when suggesting his side could have been awarded a free-kick for the original clash between the two and then hinting his player was lucky to avoid a red card for his reaction.
Thing you may have missed
Ipswich Town’s most famous fan was in the house once again for this game.
This, by my count, was Ed Sheeran’s third Portman Road visit this season and the third time he’s seen the Blues draw.
This time, instead of posting his usual Instagram snap or being spotted by one of our photographers in the crowd, he appeared on social media alongside a trio of Ipswich Town icons.
Sheeran was pictured with Terry Butcher, Kieran Dyer and Titus Bramble inside his box at Portman Road, with the later posting his snap on his Twitter page.
If Sheeran can do a job at left back and Dyer slots in on the right, where he did play during his career, this could be a decent Ipswich Town back four.
This game was Luke Chambers’ 250th as Ipswich Town captain.
The central defender made his 300th Blues appearance just a few weeks ago at Nottingham Forest but it’s with the armband that he will be remembered best when all is said and done.
He’s a leader, a focal point and a solid defender.
On this occasion he also offered a real threat in the opposition box, which has not been true for almost the entirety of the season to date.
Was he unlucky to have a first-half effort ruled out for a foul? On first (and so far only) viewing, I thought so. Andy Woolmer saw something and blew his whistle.
Oh what could have been.
Much of the pre-match talk was regarding the return of former Ipswich striker David McGoldrick.
It seemed in the summer that a parting of ways after more than five years was the right decision for all parties.
We ran a poll this week in which 47 per cent of voters believed the club should have kept him. Only 19 per cent of supporters responded that way when we asked the same question in the summer. McGoldrick staying fit and scoring goals while Ipswich have struggled seems to have swayed opinion somewhat.
He received a good reception both prior to kick-off and when he was replaced on 69 minutes, during a display in which he showed a few neat touches without ever really threatening his former club.