Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 defeat at Hull City
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Ipswich Town returned to the foot of the Championship table with a 2-0 defeat at Hull City this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his snap verdict.
We’ve been accentuating the positives throughout the winless start to the Paul Hurst era, but there were very few to take from today.
The hope was that Town would be able to gel as a side and work on a new way of playing over the international break. Instead they looked an even bigger set of strangers than in the seven games which had come before.
Defensively the Blues were shoddy. Offensively they never really looked like scoring. The bright little spells of one-touch passing were few and far between.
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Football is such a confidence game and given these two teams’ respective struggles, the first goal was always going to be crucial today. Hull got it with less than five minutes on the clock.
Town did rally briefly at the end of the first half and started the second half well enough, but not scoring when on top is becoming a recurring theme.
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And the goal which sealed their fate in the final minutes was simply a shocker...
One bit of solace during the opening six games was that Town were never being carved open in open play. Today, they looked hesitant and flakey in all areas throughout.
Flynn Downes was robbed of the ball and then failed to track back ahead of Jarrod Bowen’s early opener. The right-winger produced a fine clipped finish on the angle (the third game in succession he’s scored against Town), but it should never have allowed it to get to that point.
The killer blow, which finally put Town out of their misery in the 90th minute, was even worse. Jordan Spence looked the firm favourite in a straight foot race with Jackson Irvine when the ball was lofted hopefully forwards, but instead he stalled an attempted a half-hearted shoulder-barge. The Australian substitute skipped clear and slotted home.
Lonely up top
Having played two up front against Norwich, boss Hurst reverted to a 4-1-4-1 system as midfielder Downes replaced striker Kayden Jackson.
Jon Walters looked incredibly isolated in the final third. It was a thankless task. When he did win his aerial battles there was no-one for him to divert the ball towards.
Jon Nolan was meant to be operating as the link man between midfield and attack, but the summer signing – who cost the bulk of the £2m double deal including Toto Nsiala from Shrewsbury – simply looked lost. Behind them Downes and Cole Skuse, the latter to a slightly lesser degree, weren’t at the speed of the game either.
Gwion Edwards had a quieter game out on the right, while Jordan Graham, although much more involved than he was on his debut against Norwich, lacked end product as Town produced just one powderpuff shot on target. Jonas Knudsen’s overlapping runs from left-back were the only real weapon.
There’s was zero evidence of the high press and players overloading the box that Hurst has talked of.
Keeping his place
Dean Gerken justified Hurst’s decision to stick with him in goal having controversially dropped Bartosz Bialkowski for the Norwich game.
He made a couple of smart stops – one quick dart of his line to block and the other with his legs, both to deny Bowen in the second half.
It would be hyper critical to blame him for the opener. And though he did spill a Frazier Campbell effort, that had come through a crowded box.
There’s no hiding from it – this is starting to become a little worrying.
For context, this was a Hull side who had lost their previous six games on the spin at the KC Stadium.
Town exited the Carabao Cup to League Two opposition and find themselves back at the foot of the Championship table with just three points to their name.
And, with respect to the teams they have faced so far, there are far tougher tasks on the horizon.
That starts with the visit of a high-flying Brentford side to Portman Road on Tuesday – a team playing some scintillating football at present. The week then ends with a home game against Bolton.
Talk of patience, time to gel and trusting the process can only last so long. It’s only natural that a few doubts are creeping into fans’ minds about the calculated gamble that was taken over the summer.
There are still 39 games to go though. Town are still unbeaten at home. And a rocking Portman Road, as was the case against Norwich, could go a long way to helping the team get this monkey off their backs.