Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 2-1 win against AFC Wimbledon
PUBLISHED: 05:41 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 05:49 21 August 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Kayden Jackson scored deep into stoppage-time to secure Ipswich Town a 2-1 win against AFC Wimbledon at Portman Road. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
LEAVING IT LATE
For the second game in a row, Town scored a crucial goal in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.
Three days on from Luke Chambers sending 4,000 travelling supporters wild at Peterborough, substitute striker Kayden Jackson latched onto Cole Skuse's ball over the top and slammed a dramatic winner inside the near post to raise the roof at Portman Road.
It sent the majority of a decent-sized midweek crowd (18,778) home happy. Among them was pop star Ed Sheerhan, the Suffolk boy back in his home county ahead of four Chantry Park gigs this weekend. He, of all people, will appreciate the Blues' new knack of providing joyous encores.
James Norwood had thumped home an 81st minute headed equaliser to cancel out Nesta Guiness-Walker's first half opener (41) and break AFC Wimbledon's stubborn resistance/time-wasting.
Strikers scoring goals, three subs all making an impact, a new signing catching the eye (more on that in a bit), with an unbeaten four-game start (two wins, two draws) putting Paul Lambert's men fifth in the early League One standings.
What's not to like? Well, for large parts of this game, just like at London Road at the weekend, quite a lot actually.
Mind you, it's often said that finding a way to win (or draw) when not at your best is the true mark of success. Town showed guts to get the job done under the weight of expectation.
FIRST HALF FRUSTRATION
It's hard to remember a first half so devoid of incident.
There were ironic cheers when Wimbledon defender Rod McDonald lashed a shot into Row Z from miles out in the 32nd minute. That's because it was the game's first shot. Virtually nothing noteworthy had happened.
Lambert had ditched his early season 4-4-2 experiment, Jackson dropping to the bench, and reverted back to his preferred system of 4-3-3.
That meant three v three in a congested midfield. Town's wingers - Idris El Mizouni and Danny Rowe - were well-looked after by Wimbledon's wing-backs. Lone striker James Norwood was left battling three centre-backs on his own.
The Blues had a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges but were far too ponderous with it. Lambert's declaration his side play 'rock and roll' football couldn't have been further from the truth.
If the play on the pitch was tentative, the mood in the stands was pensive.
Andre Dozzell had barely affected the game before he slid Norwood away with a well-weighed through ball in the 37th minute. The front man, who had badly mis-hit a decent volleyed chance inside the area on the hour, tried to dink the keeper. West Ham loanee Nathan Trott stuck out a hand to turn the ball around the post.
It was at that moment you began to fear a long evening was ahead. There were even a few boos at the break.
Wimbledon escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and arrived the underdogs. They, understandably, didn't show a great deal of attacking intent.
Their plan was to nick a goal on the counter and give themselves something to protect. Part one of that plan came off in the 41st minute.
As so often is the case with Ipswich, they shot themselves in the foot.
After a long ball up the line was helped inside, all the blue shirted players in the box were drawn to striker Michael Folivi like bees to honey. The Watford loanee held the ball up smartly with his back to goal and laid it off for on-running left wing-back Guiness-Walker to fire home.
Janoi Donacien, who looked a bag of nerves all game, was the most guilty party for being completely unaware of the danger behind him.
The Blues had just heaped a whole load of extra pressure on their shoulders.
New boy Anthony Georgiou, who had only arrived on loan from Tottenham the day before, replaced El Mizouni at the break.
The 22-year-old left-winger immediately injected some life into the side with his direct running, dangerous low crosses and set-pieces deliveries.
Town were playing with far more intensity. Several balls flashed across the box. Rowe lashed wide in the area. Myles Kenlock darted inside and tested the keeper.
On the hour mark, Jackson came on for the ineffective Dozzell and Town went two up top. Then, with little more than 20 minutes to go, Alan Judge replaced Rowe.
The Blues, with some extra pace and creative spark on the pitch, were encouraged on by the crowd. They kept going forwards but were struggling to test the keeper.
The breakthrough came after the referee looked across helplessly to his linesman when not sure if the ball had crossed the line or not for a corner. His assistant, who couldn't have been further away on the other side of the pitch, took an age before seemingly guessing in Town's favour.
Judge delivered the flag kick for only the second assist of his Town career so far.
RESTING THE CAPTAIN
This was only the third time captain Luke Chambers has been named as a substitute for Ipswich Town.
Prior to this, he had started 308 out of 327 league and play-off games for the club. He's only missed 17 through injury or suspension.
It was a big call from Lambert, who has repeatedly insisted that the soon to be 34-year-old will no longer be able to play every game at this stage of his career.
Chambers' replacement, James Wilson, had an assured match at the back.
Lambert's squad is starting to look strong. He called upon Marcus Evans to deliver three signings and the owner has delivered, with full-back Kane Vincent-Young, left-sided specialist Georgiou and striker Will Keane all added this week.
Gwion Edwards, Jon Nolan, Judge, Emyr Huws, Vincent-Young and Keane should all be getting up to full speed over the coming days and weeks. Toto Nsiala, Luke Garbutt, Teddy Bishop, Jack Lankester, Tristan Nydam and Freddie Sears are all to come back from injuries over the coming weeks and months.
If everybody is fit - and that's a big 'if' - Lambert will have two options or more for every position on the pitch. There's a good mix of youth and experience. There's plenty of versatility in there. He says his incoming business might not be complete yet either.
For all Lambert's talk about having patience for a project, there really should be no excuse for Town not be in the top six mix at the very least this season.