Exes on the beach, a left back question and a curse to break - Talking points ahead of Town’s clash with Blackpool
- Credit: pa
Ipswich Town travel to Blackpool today looking to extend their unbeaten start to the season. Andy Warren looks at the talking points going into the game...
Stepping it up
Town hit their first bump in the road at MK Dons last weekend but still left with a point on what was a disappointing afternoon on many fronts.
The 100% record fell as Town, despite taking an early lead through Jon Nolan, struggled to get going in an attacking sense and found things even tougher once Flynn Downes departed with an injury after all three subs had been used.
Ipswich dug in for a commendable, potentially ‘useful’ point but few would have had any complaints had MK Dons taken all three.
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Paul Lambert’s men lacked bite in midfield, an issue Downes’ introduction was supposed to counteract and, though the youngster is now sidelined, it’s possible the Town boss will look to beef up the engine room for this game.
The obvious candidate there is Emyr Huws, who could come in for either Teddy Bishop or Nolan and offer support to Andre Dozzell.
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Whichever midfield Lambert names, it’s an area of his side that will need to move up a gear from last weekend.
Staking a claim
Stephen Ward is another absentee, with Myles Kenlock likely to come in for a start in his place. But did Corrie Ndaba do enough on Tuesday night to move into the conversation?
Usually a centre-half, the young Irishman performed well at left-back as he defended well and grew into the victory over Gillingham in an attacking sense.
In all likelihood it’ll be Kenlock who gets the nod. Lambert certainly said as much yesterday. He surely deserves the opportunity to stake a claim from the start, but Tuesday’s display from Ndaba may just apply a little more pressure.
Kenlock struggled after coming off the bench at Stadium MK but has looked much more comfortable when playing from the start of games, so will be hopeful of a strong performance in this game in relief of veteran Ward, who has proved to be an excellent addition.
Alongside him at the back, Tomas Holy, Luke Chambers, Toto Nsiala and James Wilson will all likely start again while Oli Hawkins should lead the line, leaving the Blues’ wide positions as the only other department with question marks.
Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears started in Milton Keynes, with Jack Lankester, Alan Judge, Armando Dobra and new boy Keanan Bennetts on the outside looking in.
Dobra of course impressed with an excellent goal on Tuesday night but will likely have to make do with a place on the bench at least, if he travels at all.
Don’t make the same mistakes again
Cast your mind back to February and you’ll remember Ipswich Town shooting themselves in the foot on their last visit to Bloomfield Road.
Ipswich ultimately lost 2-1 in terrible conditions, with both goals of their own making.
The first saw Luke Garbutt (more on him in a bit), Flynn Downes and Emyr Huws all make errors before Kieran Dewsbury-Hall fired home, before Freddie Sears scored an equaliser with what turned out to be Town’s final goal before the campaign was halted.
It looked like it would earn a point, only for a long ball forward to be misjudged by Garbutt and Blackpool given far too much room to cross for Joe Nuttall to head home in stoppage time.
It was a defeat which summed up a season well-and-truly off the rails and highlights errors which can’t afford to be repeated.
Ex on the beach
There’s every chance Town will come face-to-face with two former players for the first time this afternoon.
The first, and most notable, is Garbutt, who joined the Seasiders last month and could well make his first start for his new club today.
We know his qualities – he’s a set-piece specialist who can threaten with his left foot – and the fear must be that he pops one into the net from a free-kick situation, just as he did twice for Ipswich.
But we know his weaknesses as well.
Garbutt could start at left-back if Demetri Mitchell is pushed into a more advanced role and, if he does, Town will have to look to expose him in a defensive setting, given he sometimes allows crosses easily and can be caught out of position.
He’s made one substitute appearance and an EFL Trophy start so far during his Blackpool career and, by all accounts, has shown a snapshot of the attributes, both good and bad, that were on display at Town.
Then there’s Grant Ward, who looks likely to start on the right of a central midfield three.
A knee ligament injury ended Ward’s time at Town as Lambert opted to release a player who barely featured under him during his time managing Ipswich in the Championship, with the former Tottenham youngster making 98 appearances for the club in total.
He’s enjoying playing regular football again and has said he’ll be looking to make a mark against his old club.
Lambert goes into this game clutching the glass trophy which comes with the League One manager of the month award following an excellent September.
And with that trophy comes the fear of the ‘manager-of-the-month curse’. It’s a fear Lambert’s rubbished previously, insisting that anyone buying into it is ‘mentally weak’.
He also won the August award last season, with Ipswich drawing the next game 0-0 with Doncaster.
The Blues will be hoping for better this time around.