Five key talking points from Ipswich Town’s 1-1 home draw with Brentford
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town drew 1-1 with Brentford, at Portman Road, on Saturday after Emyr Huws’ opener was cancelled out by a Nico Yennaris goal. STUART WATSON looks at some of the key talking points.
Drawing on the positives
The initial feeling leaving the ground was one of disappointment. Having played so positively against Reading, Aston Villa, Brighton and Leeds, the Blues were on the back foot for most of the game at Norwich and were once again second best at the weekend.
Yesterday, worryingly, had that familiar limp, non-event feel that we’d all become to know and loathe in 2016. The Blues lacked gumption at key moments and large periods of the match simply drifted.
And yet, it would be churlish to be to go overboard with any criticism.
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Brentford are a decent team who came into this match having scored 16 goals in their previous six outings. They’d recently won 2-1 at promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday.
Yes, they were the better side, but not massively. Town deserve credit for ensuring they came away from a below-par display with a share of the spoils. As Mick McCarthy said, this is undoubtedly a game they would have lost just a few weeks ago. That’s progress.
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Style is still evolving
Town have, undoubtedly, been a lot easier on the eye of late. The ball is finally staying on the deck more, play goes through midfield rather than by-passing it and players are patiently trying to work openings. Huws’ goal was evidence of that. Just like Jonas Knudsen’s goal at Carrow Road, there was lengthy build-up.
The players must be thinking they can’t win. They used to be ridiculed with derogatory chants of ‘hoof’, but now there are groans whenever Cole Skuse passes backwards.
Yes, the Blues didn’t pass with enough tempo or intent on this occasion. Yes, they didn’t have their usual intensity or aggression.
The much-needed transition in style of play post Daryl Murphy is finally happening though and that should be encouraged.
Forwards didn’t fire
There has been much excitement about the potential for Tom Lawrence and David McGoldrick striking up a fearsome forward partnership, but neither was at the races on Saturday.
McGoldrick looks to have finally put two years of injury frustration behind him and has recently rediscovered his talismanic form of old, but perhaps his February exerts caught up with him a bit. He was much quieter and nothing he tried really came off.
Leicester loanee Lawrence has been sensational this season. It may have been the ankle injury he is clearly nursing or the fact he’s lost a bit of momentum following a two-game suspension, but he too was well below par.
No Pitman again
Brett Pitman was Town’s 11-goal top-scorer last season, but he now appears to be fifth in the strikers’ pecking order.
Freddie Sears got the nod ahead of him when Lawrence was suspended, while Kieffer Moore – the £10k January recruit from non-league Forest Green – has been coming on ahead of him off the bench.
You have to feel for the 29-year-old, who has been an unused substitute throughout this six-game unbeaten run. Previously he had been asked to fight for every lost cause as a lone striker – something he willingly does, but which is clearly not his game. He’d be far better suited to Town’s new way of playing, but has not been given a chance to show that.
McCarthy has labelled him the club’s most natural finisher. You wonder whether he might have been able to turn a few of the recent draws into victories.
When was the last time Town had a central midfielder who scored twice in six games? It’s been so refreshing to have someone looking to get in the box from deep.
McCarthy says the Welshman wants to join the Blues permanently this summer. If Neil Warnock stays in charge at Cardiff then there’s a good chance a deal could be done.
The 23-year-old took his goal brilliantly with a chest, swivel and finish in the bottom corner.
However, he was caught on the ball when dribbling out of the back for the leveller.