Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 3-0 home win against Shrewsbury
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town moved two points clear at the top of the League One table following this afternoon’s 3-0 home win against Shrewsbury Town. STUART WATSON gives his observations.
HE WHO DARES
One of the big reasons apathy gripped hard at Portman Road in recent years was Ipswich Town's ultra-cautious approach on home soil. Rarely did it ever feel like, regardless of the opposition, the team wanted to try and burst out of the blocks and really set the tone in front of their own fans.
Ex-boss Mick McCarthy even said himself: 'You can't risk going 2-0 down inside 20 minutes'. Well today, the Blues were 2-0 up inside just 10.
Kayden Jackson's sweeping finish on the run arrived with less than two minutes on the block. James Norwood's penalty conversation followed after Kane Vincent-Young was bundled over in the box.
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Paul Lambert bemoaned his side being 'too passive' in possession during that frustrating first half against AFC Wimbledon which ended with a smattering of moans and groans.
They certainly weren't passive today. Just like against Sunderland here, it was frenetic, intense, energetic. Sometimes it lacks a little finesse, but the opposition - many of whom won't be used to playing in such surroundings - can't catch their breath.
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How refreshing is it that you head to the ground now excited about a team that is desperate to give you something to shout about.
As Lambert himself said recently... 'He who dares'.
STRIKERS ON FORM
There's something wonderfully romantic about a strike partnership flourishing in front of your eyes in an 'old school' 4-4-2 system.
Norwood and Jackson complement each other well. Thunder and lightning. One wins headers and drops deep. The other lurks on the final shoulder, the threat of his pace turning defences towards their own goal.
Both, vitally, are clever players. Their movement is intelligent. And they're getting to starting to get in tune.
Most importantly of all, they are scoring goals. That's four in three for Jackson. It's five in four for Norwood. His poor penalty miss (save) at Peterborough has been quickly banished by two thumping finishes from the spot.
Confidence is the most important commodity for a front man. Those two are full to the brim with it at present.
And the best thing of all... You sense there is more to come.
USING HIS HEAD
Flynn Downes was a silly boy when getting sent-off for a violent headbutt in a pre-season. Today, he used his head both sensibly and bravely.
Since that red-mist moment at Cambridge he's been maturing into a man in front of our very eyes.
The 20-year-old, headscratchingly left out of the England Under-20 squad this week, has been the Blues' best performer over the opening six games.
Everything he does on the ball is calmness personified. Having the experienced Cole Skuse alongside him undoubtedly helps. The two of them are dictating the pace of matches.
The question mark was whether he would be able to provide enough goals or assists. Well he's gone a long way to answering those doubts in the last two games.
Following on from some inch-perfect through passes at Bolton, he scored with the bravest of headers here today.
It was as good an Ipswich goal as we've seen in some time. Kane Vincent-Young, Gwion Edwards and Jackson were all involved in a rapid counter-attack that went through the thirds. Downes showed John Wark-esque instincts to arrive late in the box and throw himself at the cross, head first, where the boots were flying.
A silly late booking was a reminder there is still a bit of learning to do. Carry on like this though an the Blues have a real star in the making.
WHALLEY BY NAME...
It would be wrong not to acknowledge that Shrewsbury more than played their part in this match.
They responded well to going 2-0 down, forced a couple of corners and went close on the half hour mark when Ethan Ebanks-Landell turned Sean Goss' dangerous dead ball delivery against the upright from close-range.
Yes, the Shrews were very much still in this match. That was until Shaun Whalley lived up to his name with the daftest of dismissals you'll see in long time.
Already in the referee's book for preventing a free-kick being taken quickly early on, the front man stupidly left a bit on Luke Chambers as the Town skipper cleared by the corner flag. Second yellow. Off.
That left 36-year-old Steve Morison, not the most mobile at this stage of his career, leading the line on his own.
Even so, Shrewsbury still gave Town something to think about. Tomas Holy had to make a decent stop from Josh Laurent just before the break. Town were then guilty of a little bit of complacency during a small sticky spell after the break, Dave Edwards glancing a decent headed chance just wide.
Lambert changed both his wingers in a double swap, the crowd urged them to wake-up and, thankfully, that classy killer third arrived.
STRENGTH IN DEPTH
Jon Nolan was introduced to a standing ovation in the 73rd minute. It was his first senior outing since injuring his Achilles/calf against Hull in late March.
Considering his lack of game time (just one U23s outing under his belt), the 27-year-old was lively in the latter stages playing just off of Norwood against his former employers.
Lambert is certainly going to start having a few selection headaches now.
Toto Nsiala warmed up with the rest of the players before kick-off and is nearing a return. Luke Garbutt and Will Keane, hopefully, shouldn't be too far away either.
New boys Kane Vincent-Young, again mightily impressive at right-back, and Anthony Georgiou have really added something.
That's not even mentioning Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop - who have their eyes on being back this side of Christmas too.
We're talking about two good third-tier players for every position now. Is there a better squad in the league? I'm not sure there is.