Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 3-2 home win against Leeds United
PUBLISHED: 18:55 05 May 2019 | UPDATED: 20:03 05 May 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town finished a disastrous campaign with a 3-2 home win against Leeds United today. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
IPSWICH TOWN 3 (THREE)
Ipswich Town looked all set to go an entire season without scoring at least three goals in a single home game for the first time in the club's history.
Few expected them to do so against promotion-chasing Leeds. The confirmation of relegation looked to have sucked life out of the Blues and they appeared to be limping their way into League One. Then they produce this.
In truth, this was no better than they had played for much of February and March. Indeed, had Kemar Roofe not blazed his penalty over in the 81st minute then we could well have been reflecting on yet another game – just like against Millwall and Bristol City – in which Paul Lambert's men had plucked a 3-2 home defeat from the jaws of victory.
Instead, they went on to secure only their fifth win of the campaign (avoiding the ignominy of becoming only the second team in Championship history to win just four) after a calamitous mix-up between keeper and defender gifted Collin Quaner a last minute goal.
Leeds had looked more likely to secure victory at 2-2, Mateusz Klich's fine low strike on the run (45) and Stuart Dallas' rebound finish (76) having cancelled out goals from Flynn Downes (30) and Andre Dozzell (47). This time though it was to be Town's day.
Three shots on target, three goals. Spells of decent football. Far more clinical in both boxes. Finally getting some breaks at key moments.
It's fine margins in football.
KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Town's master plan is built around the academy.
Supporters will always get behind one of their own. There will always be extra leeway. Nevertheless, there may have been a few private doubts as to whether this much-trumpeted crop of youngsters are as good as they've been made out to be. A few were beginning to voice concerns that building around the kids could be naive in the rough and tumble of League One.
That's why it was so good to see Flynn Downes and Andre Dozzell perform the way they did today.
Downes was full of energy. He was so often quickest to loose balls. When he had possession he was positive. It was great to see him hook home his first senior goal after Alan Judge's deep free-kick was chaos in the box.
The fact he's suffered with illness all week made it all the more impressive. When he was subbed just after the hour it looked like he was running on empty.
Dozzell has had a frustrating comeback season after a knee injury robbed him of a year. Game time has been limited and, when chances have come, so many have passed him by.
Here he provided a reminder of his undoubted class. The sweeping left-footed finish which came at the end of a superb team move that went through the thirds was coolness personified.
Like Myles Kenlock, a run of games could enable those two to further build that belief – both in themselves and from the terraces.
Toto Nsiala has endured a difficult debut season with the Blues.
He's gone from starting 58 games in a League One promotion-chasing Shrewsbury side to becoming a bit-part player in one rooted to the foot of the Championship table.
This week he admitted that he's found it hard not to over-think any criticism that's come his way. Generic talk of 'lower league players not making the step up' has hurt him.
Today's man-of-the-match performance will therefore have done him a world of good heading off into the summer break.
The 27-year-old was immense. Time and time again he was there to make crucial interventions in the box. There were powerful clearing headers, well-timed interceptions and stretching legs to cut out dangerous deliveries. Most importantly there was no hint of the costly lapses in concentration which have so often marred his displays.
Like so many players in this squad – be they youngsters or lower league recruits – the bruising experiences of this emotionally-draining campaign could see him come back stronger.
As it stands, captain Luke Chambers will be suspended for the opening game of next season.
His tangle of legs with Kemar Roofe in the box was clumsy. 'Double jeopardy' rules state that there shouldn't be the punishment of a red card on top of the penalty if the challenge was deemed a deliberate attempt to play the ball.
Lambert says he may consider an appeal. The risk of an extended suspension could put him off though. If that's the case then the door is open for someone else to stake their claim on day one in League One.
Luke Woolfenden, who has enjoyed a good loan spell at Swindon Town, could be the one to benefit.
SMILES FOR THE SUMMER
It was so important that everybody – players and supporters – headed off into the summer with smiles on their faces.
It's human nature to dwell on the last thing that happened. The most recent always sticks in the mind.
That humbling at a fired up and hungry Sheffield United had many forgetting about the previous decent displays and draws against some good sides.
Town may have finished rock-bottom and 13 points adrift of safety, but they have taken points off of the top five finishers.
Today might just help in that final push for 12,000 season tickets sales before tomorrow's early bird deadline.