Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich’s 2-0 defeat at Derby
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Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at Derby County in a Championship match last night. STUART WATSON gives his snap verdict.
Tale of the game
It was an even first half short on goalscoring chances. Town defended comfortably, but you just sensed there was more to come from the below-par Rams.
Ipswich, of course, had played with 10 men for 50 minutes in their battling 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa three days earlier. That expended energy – both physical and mental – probably did play its part in a performance which lacked the same sort of energy.
Joe Ledley arrowed a fine first-time finish into the top corner to break the deadlock just before the hour after Town failed to clear a corner. Then ex-Blues loan star Tom Lawrence beat Bartosz Bialkowski with a deceiving low free-kick for the killer second in the 68th minute.
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It means that five of the seven goals Ipswich have conceded this season have come directly or indirectly from a set-piece situation.
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We can stop talking about the proud Pride Park record now.
Town went into this match with a 10-game unbeaten record at this venue which stretched back to November 2006. They’d won their last three games here 1-0 and who can forget that 4-4 draw?
The record came to an end in a rather underwhelming fashion though.
The Blues lacked a goal threat. Gwion Edwards was quiet, while Jon Nolan struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Grant Ward – who was Town’s liveliest attacking player having replaced the suspended Tayo Edun on the left – put a shot straight at Scott Carson in the first half. That was about as close as they came.
Comparing the two sets of substitutes spoke volumes. Ipswich, with respect, lacked game-changers. Derby had an array of talent.
So when George Evans limped off midway through the first half, Frank Lampard could just bring on experienced Welsh international Ledley. It was his quality which broke the deadlock.
Martyn Waghorn, the man the Rams paid £5m for to prise away from the Blues, didn’t even get on the pitch. Jack Marriott, the former Blues youngster, came on for the last 13 minutes when the game was effectively won.
Lawrence, meanwhile, was exactly we saw during his super season at Portman Road. Direct, tricky, but also pushing the limits when it came to the referee. It looked like he initiated the contact with Toto Nsiala when winning the free-kick from which he scored.
A further word on Nsiala. There were a couple of brilliant tackles in the box, but another couple of heart in mouth moments too.
Lonely up top
Ellis Harrison, once again, looked painfully isolated as the lone striker. It was a thankless task, not helped by the fact that – on the rare occasion the ball did go into his feet or chest – he rarely was able to make it stick.
Jon Nolan did play more of an advanced midfield role, but it was not enough. And it wasn’t even as if the extra body in midfield helped win that battle either as the hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.
Paul Hurst wants his team to operate a high press. If it’s going to be effective then the entire front four need to hunt in packs.
Even at 2-0, Hurst went for a straight swap when replacing Harrison with Kayden Jackson. You wonder if we’ll see the pair operate as a front two at any stage this season.
Make mine a JD
Janoi Donacien had never played above League Two level prior to joining Ipswich Town from Accrington Stanley in a deal that will eventually cost a not insubstantial £750k.
Right-back didn’t look like a position that needed prioritising when it came to summer business given the likes of Jordan Spence, Josh Emmanuel and Barry Cotter were all at the club. And it didn’t help that work permit issues meant the 24-year-old had to initially join on loan, therefore limiting the further temporary business that could be done.
It’s quickly becoming apparent why Hurst was so keen to make the transfer happen though.
Donacien kept flying Aston Villa winger Albert Adomah very quiet at Portman Road on Saturday, a player who ran the Blues ragged last season, and then followed that performance up by shackling the dangerous Lawrence. He always read the situation calmly and stepped in to make well-timed standing tackles.
He is clearly relishing his chance in the Championship.