Blues need to find balance if draws are to become wins
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town take on Barnsley, at Oakwell, in a Championship clash tomorrow afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the match.
Two Barnsley-born bosses have traded compliments.
Paul Heckingbottom says the experienced Mick McCarthy is ‘100% someone I look up to’, while McCarthy is full of praise for Heckingbottom’s start in management – and it’s no wonder.
The 39-year-old, who was a well-travelled lower league defender, took over as Tykes manager in February 2016 after Lee Johnson jumped ship to Bristol City.
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First he oversaw a Football League Trophy triumph, then there was a remarkable late run into sixth spot in League One followed by more Wembley glory in the Play-Off Final.
Barnsley have coped remarkably well on their return to the Championship, so much so that three of their players were snapped up in January – striker Sam Winnall moving to Sheffield Wednesday for £500k, with playmaker Conor Hourihane and right-back James Bree going to Aston Villa for a combined £6m.
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That trio provided 17 goals and 13 assists for the team between them in the first half of the season, so it’s no surprise that results haven’t been as good over the last few weeks.
One win in eight, including three defeats from the last four, leaves them 11th in the table.
A wing-back system has played a big part in Town’s seven-game unbeaten run, but getting the balance between graft and guile in that formation could be the difference between turning some of the many draws into wins.
Cardiff City loanee Emyr Huws’ box-to-box positive play was a big miss in Tuesday night’s drab goalless home draw with Wolves. The Welsh international is available again today following a tight hamstring and it will be interesting to see who misses out from Cole Skuse, Toumani Diagouraga and Grant Ward.
Jonas Knudsen and Josh Emmanuel were played as wing-backs in midweek leaving Town with more of a back five than a back three. Myles Kenlock and Jordan Spence offer more of an attacking threat down the flanks, but McCarthy seems keen to accommodate Luke Chambers, Christophe Berra and the fit-again Tommy Smith in his back line and will be way of losing some of the newfound solidity that stopped the January rot.