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Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:37 20 September 2020

Ipswich's Jack Lankester with an effort on goal at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich's Jack Lankester with an effort on goal at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

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Ipswich Town moved to the top of the League One table with a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.

Andre Dozzell breaks clear at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdAndre Dozzell breaks clear at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

SLOW START

As this game wore on, you began to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.

The Blues had a degree of control without it really leading to anything. On several occasions, passes went into touch. And when the ball was worked into dangerous areas, the final cross was lacking.

Freddie Sears testing the keeper with a low bending free-kick was as near as Town came to scoring.

Old Hawkins misses a great second half chance at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdOld Hawkins misses a great second half chance at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Rovers created little from open play, but twice went close from set-pieces as both Alfie Kilgour and Brandon Hanlan were a whisker away from connecting with Zain Westbrooke’s deep deliveries.

JACK’S BACK

And so it was that Paul Lambert turned to his bench for some spark.

First, Jack Lankester replaced Freddie Sears in the 63rd minute. Then, five minutes later, Flynn Downes and Oli Hawkins came on for Bishop and Norwood – both of whom had struggled to get a real foothold in the game.

The trio made a real difference.

Downes immediately helped raise the tempo with his all-action energy. Following two impressive cameos, he’s already banging on the door for a return to the starting XI post transfer request fall-out.

Hawkins occupied tiring centre-backs with his physicality to create space for others.

Fist pumps all round from Ipswich Manager Paul Lambert after the win at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdFist pumps all round from Ipswich Manager Paul Lambert after the win at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

MORE: Lambert hails subs after two late goals sink Bristol Rovers

Lankester, however, was the real headline act though. In what was his first competitive game since January 2019, he left the field with two assists.

The 20-year-old provided a dangerous inswinging cross from the right which Max Ehmer was forced to head past his own keeper in the 80th minute, then played a neat forward pass for Jon Nolan’s 89th minute clincher.

After two serious back injuries and a recent case of concussion suffered on the training field, this was a day that has been a long-time coming for the talented youngster.

Gwion Edwards with a second half chance at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdGwion Edwards with a second half chance at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

JONNY ON THE SPOT

Nolan made a difficult goal look effortless, shifting the ball away from the defence with his right foot and then rolling the ball back across the keeper into the far bottom corner with his left.

That’s now two goals in five games from him at the start of this season. The way he times his runs into the box suggest there could be plenty more to come too.

Flynn Downes made impressive cameo displays against Fulham and Bristol Rovers last week. Photo: PagepixFlynn Downes made impressive cameo displays against Fulham and Bristol Rovers last week. Photo: Pagepix

MORE: Ratings: How the Ipswich Town players performed in their 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers

This is a man, remember, who was brought to Town off the back of a 10-goal campaign for Shrewsbury in League One.

Having finished the match with an impressive 88% pass accuracy, there’s a strong argument that’s been Ipswich’s man-of-the-match two weekends in a row now.

James Norwood in action during the game at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdJames Norwood in action during the game at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

DR DRE

Andre Dozzell, once again, played incisive passes with surgical precision from a deep-lying midfield role. We know that’s what he’s about.

Just as impressively, much like Downes at the start of last season, you can see the 21-year-old adding extra layers to his game now he’s finally being trusted with a run in the side.

Often man-marked, he moved intelligently and showed some physicality. As well as the passing, we’re seeing tackles and interceptions now too.

Luke Chambers in action during the game at Bristol Rovers last weekend. Picture: PAGEPIX LTDLuke Chambers in action during the game at Bristol Rovers last weekend. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Towards the end he was still going strong, bursting past a man to put a cross on Hawkins’ head.

CREATING CHANCES

Including the initial cup clash with Bristol Rovers, that’s played three, won three against League One opposition.

Marcus Evans greets the Town players after  the warm up  at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdMarcus Evans greets the Town players after the warm up at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

It’s scored seven, none against. It’s six points on the board, top of the league.

Yes, yes, it’s very early days. Last season has taught us not to get carried away by good starts. Rovers and Wigan look mid-to-bottom half sides at best. Let’s see what happens when Town face a promotion rival.

MORE: Bristol Rovers 0-2 Ipswich Town: Two late goals win it for Blues as Lambert’s men go top

The encouraging thing is that, perhaps unlike at the start of last season, the points Ipswich are claiming are underpinned by performances of real substance.

Gwion Edwards and Jon Nolan celebrate at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdGwion Edwards and Jon Nolan celebrate at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

In game one against Bristol Rovers it was 15 shots on goal (10 on target). Against Wigan, it was 16 shots (seven on target). At the Memorial Stadium it was 13 shots (six on target).

The lively Gwion Edwards could have had a hat-trick in the final half hour, twice testing the keeper and also seeing one cleared off the line, while Hawkins headed a glorious chance wide.

When a team truly believes they have goals in them it takes a lot of pressure off the defence.

Ipswich players celebrate Gwion Edwards opening the scoring with a header at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdIpswich players celebrate Gwion Edwards opening the scoring with a header at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Jon Nolan scores Ipswich's second goal at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdJon Nolan scores Ipswich's second goal at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Ollie Hawkins closes in on the ball at Bristol Rovers after coming on as a sub. Picture Pagepix LtdOllie Hawkins closes in on the ball at Bristol Rovers after coming on as a sub. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich's second goal scorer Jon Nolan celebrates with a hug from Luke Chambers at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdIpswich's second goal scorer Jon Nolan celebrates with a hug from Luke Chambers at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Freddie Sears forces a save from the keeper at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdFreddie Sears forces a save from the keeper at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Gwion Edwards challenges at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix LtdGwion Edwards challenges at Bristol Rovers. Picture Pagepix Ltd


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