Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-1 win at Plymouth
Ipswich Town returned to winning ways, coming from behind to record a 2-1 victory at 10-man Plymouth yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.
ANOTHER BAD DECISION
It’s ridiculous how many bad decisions have gone against the Blues in the opening third of the campaign.
The latest came in the seventh minute of this game as Jerome Opoku clattered into Jack Lankester just inside the angle of the box. The way the ball changed direction showed that Lankester had clearly got to the loose ball a split second first, yet referee Ollie Yates awarded a free-kick to Plymouth.
Had Ipswich been awarded and scored a penalty, the whole course of the afternoon could have been different. The Blues had started the game sharply and on the front foot.
As it was, Plymouth went on to break the deadlock in the 14th minute with a slick move. Danny Mayor zipped a pass into Frank Nouble’s feet, he produced some fine back to goal play and Conor Grant swept in a low cross for Luke Jephcott to divert in off the bar, on the run, at the near post.
For the sixth time in seven games, the Blues found themselves behind.
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BETTER (IF NOT BRILLIANT)
The journey from Ipswich to Plymouth takes around five and a half hours on a good run. By the time the clock hit 70 minutes in this game, Town had gone longer than that without scoring a goal.
There’s no doubting this had been a better (if not brilliant) display though. There was a lot more purpose about the possession. The Blues had worked some decent positions in and around the area.
Nouble produced a last-ditch block on Alan Judge early on. Lankester’s ambitious reverse pass from deep set Kayden Jackson clear, only for the striker to take too long to pull the trigger and be superbly tackled by Will Aimson on the blind side. Dobra probably could have got hold of a shot inside the box a bit better too.
There was also a clever exchange up the left between Stephen Ward and Judge which led to a Luke Chambers shot flying wide. Had Lankester got a slight touch, then that could easily have been a goal.
So there were chances created in the first period. Equally, there were chances conceded too. Mayor went the closest when bending an effort narrowly wide after stepping inside from the left.
Plymouth, who had been thrashed 4-0 on home turf by Rochdale in midweek, made it clear they were out to protect the lead after the restart.
As the minutes ticked by, the Pilgrims’ press began to lose energy. The men in green shirts began to sit deeper. Ipswich produced their best move of the match on the hour as Ward, Judge and Dobra combined, the latter’s cross scrambled behind just ahead of Jackson at the near post.
You sensed the Blues were getting on top. Off came Lankester and Brett McGavin, on went Keanan Bennetts and Oli Hawkins. Lambert, who insisted recently that Ipswich are ‘hopeless’ with two up top, switched to 4-4-2.
DANNY HAS A MAYOR
Danny Mayor was at Portman Road last summer to hold talks over a free transfer move from Bury. He asked for time to think about things and ultimately chose to drop down a league to be reunited with his former boss Ryan Lowe.
The midfielder received his marching orders in the 70th minute for two very silly bookings. He was shown the first just eight minutes after the restart for time wasting, not heeding the referee’s clear warning to hurry up with a corner. The second came for a wholly unnecessary little flick of the foot at the heels of Dobra on halfway.
An already tiring and nervy side were now down to 10 men. Within five minutes, Ipswich were in front.
SIMPLY THE CHEST
Stephen Ward had a big hand in Town’s turnaround.
First the advanced left-back clipped a cross to the far post. Nolan took the ball on his chest and did superbly to steer a volley back across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Ward let out a roar of encouragement and went around geeing up team-mates individually. The experienced Irishman then continued to lead by example, his pass into the box leading to the quickfire second.
Again, there was a chest involved, Hawkins popping the ball off expertly with his back to goal in the box. Jackson found the bottom corner with a cool left-footed finish.
The front man celebrated by first sticking his fingers in his ears and then putting a finger to his lips. Whether that was aimed at the limited number of Plymouth fans in the ground or some of Ipswich Town critics is unclear.
After that, Ipswich did look a little nervy seeing out their first win since October 10. But see it out they did.
Credit where credit is due. To come back and win, given all the injuries and the current mood surrounding the club, took real character.
THE SAD PART
It’s just a real shame that not everybody felt able to truly enjoy Ipswich Town winning and moving back up to third in the League One table.
The combination of Lambert’s post Oxford rant about ‘absolute nonsense criticism’ and owner Marcus Evans’ subsequent show of support for the underfire Scot left many supporters feeling a mixture of anger and disillusionment.
At best, Evans’ statement was ill-judged. At worst, it wan an outright insult.
If he wants to back his manager, fine. Just say you have full faith in him, let everyone know where you stand, and leave it at that. Transparency is good.
But the comments about ‘not being swayed into making the same mistakes that led to our demise’ were incendiary at a time when water, not further fuel, was needed for the fires of discontent.
To actually use the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ – one which was repeatedly used by outsiders to batter Ipswich supporters with during the short-lived Paul Hurst era – felt almost like Evans was trolling his own club’s fan base.
He may has well have written ‘you made me let Mick McCarthy go and look where that’s got us’. And if that’s how he truly reflects on the last few years, then boy is that a major concern. How about taking some responsibility for his own mistakes in that vitally important transition period which was so badly managed?
There seems to be a real blame culture in this club.
Town aren’t where they are because of anything the media or fans have said. Come on, get real, it’s hardly a pressure cooker environment in Suffolk.
And if expectations have been too high at times, then the club needs to look at itself for not managing those better.