Winners and Losers: Milestones, stunners, advisors and floppers
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Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at Sunderland this weekend. Andy Warren looks at a few winners and losers from the Stadium of Light.
The milestone man
Remarkably, this game saw Janoi Donacien finally reach 50 appearances in an Ipswich Town shirt.
The landmark was reached more than three years and three months after his first appearance in a blue shirt. He’s been on quite the ride since the summer of 2018.
It also came just a couple of days after he signed a richly-deserved new contract and on an afternoon where he performed well, defending stoutly and attacking well to support Sone Aluko.
Manager Paul Cook gave Donacien a chance to impress in the summer, after taking the option to extend his previous deal. But that chance came with no guarantees at all and there was still a real feeling he could have been moved on, had he not proven his worth.
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Thankfully, for himself, for Cook and for the team, he did.
The regular man
George Edmundson seems to feature in this section every week. That’s because he is now, without a doubt, Town’s most consistent performer.
He was top of the charts again at Sunderland, positioning himself excellently to calmly deal with all that came his way.
The young man
Paul Cook has started five different men at left-back so far this season.
Bailey Clements was the second of those this season, starting the League Cup clash with Newport in August, but the prospect of the academy product starting three games in a week seemed a world away back then.
But that’s exactly what he’s done.
Clements was a surprise starter against Oxford a week ago and, for long spells of that game was Ipswich’s best player. He wasn’t quite so influential at Oldham a few days later but did enough to keep his place for Saturday’s big game at Sunderland.
The Stadium of Light can be a cauldron at time but the defender got through the game, making amends for his own errors on a couple of occasions but not quite managing to influence the game in the offensive sense Cook wants his full-backs to. It wasn’t always easy, but he made it through.
Hayden Coulson and Matt Penney were signed to be Town’s two senior left-backs, while Cameron Burgess could potentially prove useful in that position against a physical Rotherham side on Tuesday night.
But whatever happens from this point on, Clements will remember this week for the rest of his life.
This column is usually reserved entirely for matters related to Ipswich Town, but this one couldn’t be ignored.
If you haven’t seen Cole Stockton’s dramatic winner for Morecambe at Fleetwood, then you really should give it a watch.
With the scores looked at 1-1, four minutes into stoppage time, a Fleetwood attack breaks down, Morecambe clear and Stockton takes control of a bouncing ball before looking up and thumping the most accurate of shots from the halfway line.
The strike was beautiful, as was the way the ball pinged back off the net and the angry reaction of beaten keeper Alex Cairns.
A moment of pure inspiration from a man who now jointly leads League One’s scoring charts with Rotherham’s Michael Smith.
A chance missed
Bersant Celina is a man for the big moments. Sadly he couldn’t produce one in this game.
The Kosovo international had two big opportunities at the Stadium of Light, both from similar positions on the edge of the box, but put his efforts too close to Sunderland keeper Thorben Hoffmann.
They were chances you would have expected a player of his quality to take.
He’ll have expected to take them too and, if he had during the first half, you have to feel Town would have gone on to win this game.
Top of the flops
It may seem a little strange to put the man who as-good-as won this game for Sunderland in the losers section, but Luke O’Nien deserves to have his ‘flopping’ antics highlighted.
The Sunderland man headed home his side’s first goal but, prior to that in the second period, he hit the deck following something of a tussle with Celina.
Yes, the Ipswich man reached out towards his opponent, but O’Nien saw that as the green light to throw himself to the floor in dramatic fashion, rolling around to try and con the referee.
He succeeded in securing a yellow card for Celina, at which point he jumped up, hugged the Town attacker with a smile on his face. It very much felt as if O’Nien was saying ‘haha, got you’.
By the sounds of things, Sunderland’s No.13 makes a habit of this kind of thing.
It’s just a shame he ultimately got the last laugh on this occasion.
Peter Reid enjoyed some brilliant times at the Stadium of Light, leading Sunderland into their new stadium in 1997, winning promotion back to the Premier League as champions a couple of years later and then pushing for European football in the two campaigns after that.
But, now in his role as an advisor to Ipswich boss Paul Cook, he’ll have wanted to taste success against his former employers, having never managed a team at his old stomping ground since his sacking in October 2002.
Toto Nsiala doesn’t enjoy playing at the Stadium of Light.
For the second year in a row, the defender can leave Sunderland feeling incredibly unfortunate to have been involved in an incident which saw Town concede a penalty for handball.
Last season, in Town’s 2-1 loss, the centre-half headed clear from danger but saw the ball instantly strike Mark McGuinness on the arm. This time, he had the ball thundered at him from a little over a yard away by striker Ross Stewart.
There was absolutely nothing he could do.
Up in the gods
Sunderland are missing a trick.
More than 31,000 fans watched this game, with the 2,000 vocal traveling Ipswich fans doing their best to make themselves heard from their lofty vantage point, high behind one of the goals.
But by placing the away supporters so far from the pitch, the Stadium of Light struggles to generate the atmosphere this impressive stadium and two good sets of fans deserved.
You can see why they do it. Town fans did well to make themselves heard, but by hiding the away support away Sunderland have ensured they can’t be any kind of factor on the pitch.
That’s a real shame because football is so much richer for the two-way exchanges which make the English game so special.