Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 win against Accrington Stanley
PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 October 2020
Ipswich Town’s fine start to the season continued with a 2-0 home win against Accrington Stanley yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.
The first thing you have to say about the goalless first period is that Ipswich were uncharacteristically sloppy.
Tomas Holy sent a couple of long kicks into touch, Gwion Edwards produced a heavy touch down the right, Teddy Bishop tripped over his own feet at one point, while Andre Dozzell, Emyr Huws and Alan Judge were all guilty of unforced errors on the ball too.
Take nothing away from Accrington Stanley though, their high energy press contributed to the Blues’ edginess.
Ipswich’s cycle was thus. Pass it about too slowly to break down an opposition that had five men across the midfield, get closed down, play it backwards to the keeper and then be forced into going long. And with no Oli Hawkins up top, that left an undersized front three of Edwards, Judge and Freddie Sears standing no chance aerially against three giant centre-backs with an average height of 6ft 4in.
Sears did twice see chances smothered by the keeper, but Accrington had looked the more dangerous side.
The day before this game, Paul Lambert was dealt a double striker blow. Hawkins reported a groin problem, while the ill Kayden Jackson was sent away for a Covid-19 test. With James Norwood and Aaron Drinan already injured, that left forward options at a premium.
Lambert opted to go with Alan Judge as the ‘false nine’. The team shape work carried out on the pitch prior to kick-off showed that the plan was for the Irishman to drop deep and knit play for runners beyond him.
Why he went with a midfielder up top and not Freddie Sears, a player who was a striker for most of his career until Mick McCarthy converted him to a winger, we can only speculate given the vague response to that question post-match. Perhaps, though not wanting to say publicly, he felt that Myles Kenlock needed the graft of Sears in front of him down the left?
Anyway, the front three was reshuffled at the break. Sears went central, Judge moved to the right and Edwards switched over to his favoured left flank.
That worked so much better. It wasn’t the main reason why Town won this game though.
GOING UP A GEAR
Lambert has spent the summer drumming it into his players that they must move the ball quicker and more positively than they did last season.
Pass forwards, have plenty of off the ball movement and exploit the space. That’s been the secret behind this super start to the season.
At Bristol Rovers, the Blues upped the tempo in the final half hour to win the game. Against Rochdale, similar patience was required before the game was again won in the second half. And it was a similar tale this weekend.
After the restart, Town moved up a gear. Teddy Bishop’s run and shot which whistled wide set the tone.
Stanley’s energy levels dropped slightly, the Blues’ sharpness went up several notches and it came as no surprise when the deadlock was broken in the 54th minute.
It was a lovely move which led to the opener.
Town worked the ball from right to left, Myles Kenlock played inside, Dozzell found Sears and he quickly squeezed a pass into the path of the on-running Edwards. The Welshman still had a bit to do, but made it look easy with a touch away from his marker and crisp low finish back across the keeper.
That’s five goals in six league games for him now. League One’s top-scorer is oozing confidence.
Towards the end of the first half Edwards nut-megged Cameron Burgess to create a good near post chance for Sears. Later in the match he played a sharp one-two to burst into the box and test the keeper. Every time he gets the ball you sense he’s going to make something happen.
Town’s killer second came in the 71st minute. After Sykes strode out of defence and promptly gave the ball away, Judge quickly slipped Sears away and he produced a cool dink over the keeper on the angle. Those two clever players linked up really well throughout the second period.
After that the gaps opened up for Town. Jon Nolan came on and used the ball well, fellow sub Keanan Bennetts twice tested the keeper, while teenage striker Tyreece Simpson, introduced off the bench late on, probably should have shot instead of squaring the ball to Dozzell in the box.
ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET
It’s often said that goals win games and clean sheets win titles.
For all the talk about the clinical finishing, don’t underestimate how important the defence has been during this good start.
Accrington had dangerous spells in this match, but in the end just one of their 16 shots came from inside the box (compared to nine of Ipswich’s 11 shots).
James Wilson was immense, making countless interceptions and clearances, while central defensive partner Toto Nsiala won the physical battle with powerful front man Colby Bishop. That shows just how far Nsiala has come since his nightmare against the very same player up at Accrington almost a year ago to the day.
Myles Kenlock built on a much-improved display at Blackpool with another assured performance. Luke Chambers led by example, having more touches of the ball (81) than anyone else, spraying some nice long passes and, as always, being the most vocal player on the field.
Behind them, Holy was far more assertive than he has been when coming to claim aerial balls. And the big Czech produced smart saves to keep out Tariq Ukwakwe’s bending free-kick and Seamus Conneely’s deflected effort.
I’ll finish with a stat. Five wins and a draw represents Town’s best start to a league campaign since the famous 1980/81 season.
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