Dave Gooderham: Win in FA Cup doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question Lambert’s rotation policy
What a difference a 94th minute winner makes, writes Dave Gooderham.
What a difference a 94th minute winner makes.
After a long day, it was difficult actually staying awake while listening to Ipswich Town's FA Cup replay at Lincoln City. This was more to do with a rather dismal-sounding game than the dulcet tones of Brenner Woolley on Radio Suffolk, you understand.
My tired state had already accepted another 30 minutes of extra time, and probably penalties, when Alan Judge's first goal in an Ipswich shirt woke me from my dozing slumber.
Judge had done it, Ipswich had done it, the curse of the FA Cup had been lifted - and ironically passed to Norwich City who have now gone the longest time without tasting victory in the best club cup competition of them all.
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Paul Lambert's decision to almost have a designated cup team could have easily backfired. We could have been dumped out of the FA Cup in the first round, THAT curse could have continued, and then we would go into two big, testing league games with a slight sense of despondence. Lose in the cup, stutter in the league, and fans would rightly start to question Lambert's tinkering.
That's what could have happened. But a run of three matches in six days has actually got off to a flyer. Maybe not the performance against Lincoln, in which the home side, according to reports, probably deserved more.
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A last minute winner can often be about so much more than three points or progress in the cup. Town got the winner and now everyone, on and off the pitch, goes into the weekend buoyed by the late show at Sincil Bank.
Just because the result went the right way, it doesn't mean we shouldn't question Lambert's selection policy - or his spiky defence, post-match, about his decisions.
For instance, question marks were raised about the performance of Toto Nsiala and Will Keane, to name two, but they were thrown into an eleven who have barely played together.
Put Nsiala next to Chambers or Keane next to Jackson and things might be different. It is always difficult making wholesale changes and it doesn't often go in Ipswich's favour.
That said, the fact Ipswich won, the fact that the good feeling just keeps on going, means we can only question things quietly. Lambert, if he so desired, can rightly point to his decision-making and say it is working.
Who are we to argue? Of course, the real test comes in the next two games. Blackpool are the visitors to Portman Road for an all-too-rare Saturday afternoon game. Before current league leaders Wycombe Wanderers arrive in Suffolk for what should be a mouthwatering match under Tuesday night lights.
With two games in hand, this is a great chance to put down an even bigger marker on the rest of the League One challengers with maximum points over four days. Would anything less than that be classed as failure? Possibly, though it would depend on how both 90 minutes play out.
As it should be, my biggest concern has nothing to do with the opposition, only those in the home dressing room. An extended break between league football will have only helped someone like Kane Vincent-Young, who seems likely to play his part over the next few days.
But what about those who need to gain or keep momentum. Could such a long break actually be a bad thing for certain players? Or will they be champing at the bit with Blackpool their tasty victim? I guess we are about to find out.
The other danger of almost having different league and cup teams is that it could create a division within the first team ranks. Could. There's that word again. It's up to Lambert, and maybe some of the more senior players, to ensure harmony is maintained and enhanced every step of the season.
For someone who wants a run in the FA Cup, it's already been a good week. Now it is time for two real 'cup finals'. The next 180 minutes are going to make for intriguing viewing.