COMMENT: Cut out set-piece Achilles heel, and Ipswich Town can look beyond the play-offs
Despite cutting a satisfied figure after yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest, manager Mick McCarthy will know that Ipswich Town’s solid start to the season could have been even better.
Nineteen points from a possible 33, and a position of sixth in the Championship, is a decent return in an increasingly unpredictable division that was encapsulated in 90 enthralling minutes yesterday.
Daryl Murphy gave Town a first half lead with a sweet finish from distance and then fired Ipswich ahead again in the second half, against the run of play, with a bullet header.
As poor as Forest were in the first period – Town were excellent value for their first half lead – they were good in the second. However, the Blues – now unbeaten in seven – will be unhappy about the sloppy nature of their defending for Forest’s equalisers, the second coming in the 94th minute.
McCarthy’s side have been so good defensively since his arrival in 2012 and were generally sound yesterday, with Tyrone Mings and Christophe Berra, in particular, putting in colossal performances at times. But the Blues let Forest back into the game when Robert Tesche headed in at the back post from a left wing corner, before Michail Antonio repeated the trick, standing in virtually the same position to volley home.
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Dean Gerken may also question his contribution for the second equaliser, the former Colchester man flapping at Henri Lansbury’s cross before Antonio side-footed home.
The same thing happened at Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday, albeit at the near post where Adthe Nuhiu scored with a header, while goals were shipped against Wigan and Norwich after Town failed to deal properly with a set-piece in the first instance.
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Four points have been potentially dropped from the last two games, points that could have put the Blues at the top of the table.
Ipswich need to cure this annoying Achilles heel – and if they do so, then they will be serious contenders for the top two, not just the play-off places.