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Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: 'A frustrating draw - but the right kind of frustrating'

PUBLISHED: 11:50 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 11 August 2019

Luke Garbutt celebrates his goal with teammates James Norwood, Flynn Downes and Janoi Donacien looking on.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Luke Garbutt celebrates his goal with teammates James Norwood, Flynn Downes and Janoi Donacien looking on. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town drew 1-1 with Sunderland in their opening home game of the season yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his final thoughts on the action.

Luke Garbutt celebrates his goal to put Town 1-0 up.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Garbutt celebrates his goal to put Town 1-0 up. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

A frustrating draw - but the right kind of frustrating.

Not frustrating in the sense that it was safe, attritional, boring and predictable. And not frustrating in the sense you left the ground feeling like it was a complete waste of time and money.

Instead, frustrating in that Town had been the better side, the side who had shown more attacking intent and who had, somehow, managed to drop two points.

It was far from perfect. There were mis-placed passes, over-hit set-pieces and long punts that drifted out of play. But there were also driving runs, moments of skill and, at times, a wonderful controlled chaos about it all.

Town fans, in great voice on Saturday.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMTown fans, in great voice on Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

MORE: 'We had them where we wanted them... we have to learn to punish teams' - Downes on Sunderland draw

This was engaging. It was high-octane. It was real rather than robotic. 'Rock and roll' football, as Paul Lambert dubbed it afterwards.

It wasn't that long ago that crowds of around 13,000 ironically cheered Town's first shot on target late in games at Portman Road. Yesterday, more than 24,000 enjoyed seeing their side produce 17 shots on goal and force eight corners.

The feeling at the full-time whistle was temporary deflation, rather than deep-set disillusionment.

James Norwood with a close range first half effort.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMJames Norwood with a close range first half effort. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Okay, actually I retract the 'not predictable' part of that earlier statement. Playing well, not scoring a killer second and shooting themselves in the foot with a defensive error is Town's new predictable. That happened so many times as the Blues slipped to relegation under Lambert last season.

That's a predictable with light at the end of the tunnel though. A predictable that, hopefully, can be fixed.

MORE: Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 1-1 home draw with Sunderland

Luke Chambers messed up. He knows that. No-one will be more frustrated than himself, trust me.

Town manager Paul Lambert speaks with Danny Rowe.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMTown manager Paul Lambert speaks with Danny Rowe. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

There will be some who write him off. Now he needs to respond. I'll stick my head above the parapet here and say he will. That costly moment aside, he had a pretty solid game.

James Norwood had a slightly frustrating day at the office. He fought for every aerial ball, tried to link up play and, whenever a sniff at goal did come, there was always traffic in the way.

This, remember, is a man who has never played at this level before. Let's give him time to find his feet. The goals, I am confident, will come.

MORE: Player ratings: How the Ipswich Town players performed in their 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland

Luke Garbutt fires Town into a 1-0 lead.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Garbutt fires Town into a 1-0 lead. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes look an excellent pairing in midfield. Luke Garbutt has scored two in two. Danny Rowe, full of trickery, looks ready to finally make his mark in a blue shirt.

There's still Alan Judge and Emyr Huws to get back up to speed. There's still Toto Nsiala, Jon Nolan and Gwion Edwards - all proven at this level - to come back, hopefully, sooner rather than later.

The likes of Teddy Bishop, Freddie Sears and Jack Lankester will hopefully be like proverbial 'new signings' later in the campaign.

MORE: 'It was a terrible mistake' - Lambert rues Chambers' error in draw with Sunderland

Referee Neil Hair books Kayden Jackson for diving.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMReferee Neil Hair books Kayden Jackson for diving. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

I must admit, I raised my eyebrows when Lambert made such a big thing of his need to sign three more players recently. This is a good squad.

The injuries are stacking up though and, if the Blues are to be serious promotion contenders, then there probably does need to be some more competition in certain areas.

A striker to help take some of the pressure of Norwood's shoulders would be nice.

A winger now looks a must as we wait for the prognosis of Garbutt's knee injury.

Luke Chambers appealed for a late penalty with the ball striking the raised arm of Luke O'Nien.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Chambers appealed for a late penalty with the ball striking the raised arm of Luke O'Nien. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Don't rule out a versatile full-back either. Someone to keep Myles Kenlock and Janoi Donacien on their toes.

MORE: 'So many positives today... we were on another level to Sunderland' - Town fans react to Black Cats draw

Back to yesterday. Sunderland - the bookies' favourites for promotion - barely laid a glove on Town. It was all pretty comfortable.

This could and should have been back-to-back wins (the things that put you in the promotion mix) and back-to-back clean sheets (the things that win titles).

Luke Garbutt celebrates his goal with James Norwood after giving the home side a first half lead.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Garbutt celebrates his goal with James Norwood after giving the home side a first half lead. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

If Burton and Sunderland are yardsticks for good teams in this division, then League One really shouldn't hold much fear for the Blues.

The losing habit has hopefully been shaken off. Now Town just need to find a winning one.

Luke Garbutt celebrates after giving Town a 1-0 lead.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Garbutt celebrates after giving Town a 1-0 lead. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Town manager Paul Lambert answers questions from Stuart Watson during his post match press conference.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMTown manager Paul Lambert answers questions from Stuart Watson during his post match press conference. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Skipper Luke Chambers with his hands on his hips after a mistake lead to Sunderland's equaliser in the 1-1 draw.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMSkipper Luke Chambers with his hands on his hips after a mistake lead to Sunderland's equaliser in the 1-1 draw. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

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