Sunday Snap: A few ups, a few more downs, big questions and sympathy for Ipswich fans up in the gods
PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 January 2019
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Andy Warren takes a snappy look back at Ipswich Town’s 2-0 loss at Blackburn Rovers.
Will Keane may not have produced the match-winning moment he managed on his first Ipswich start a week ago, but this was another promising display from the Hull loanee.
The Ipswich attack needs to offer a significantly increased threat if they are to dig themselves out of trouble, but Keane’s early displays have suggested he can be a part of trying to make that happen.
Keane’s touch is good, he can hold it up, bring others into play and be effective both in the No.10 role and up front alone.
He had the Blues’ best chance in this game, rounding goalkeeper David Raya after latching onto a loose ball, but his touch took him too wide and he then lacked the options in the box when looking for a killer ball. That, in many ways, sums up the Ipswich attack over the course of the entire season – not enough support for the forward line.
Could have done more
Surgeons told Cole Skuse he faced between eight and 10 weeks out after suffering a knee injury in training, but the midfielder has returned to action in four.
But, just a few weeks removed from a cartilage operation, the midfielder is showing some understandable signs of rust.
He started Lambert’s reign like a train but, in his two appearances since his return, he’s found things a little tougher.
He turned into trouble on a few occasions today, lost possession cheaply and lacked sharpness in his passing and attempts to win the ball back.
His return is most certainly a positive but Ipswich need the Skuse of November back in their side as soon as possible.
Under the radar
Sadly Dean Gerken’s stunning save from Joe Rothwell, which saw the Ipswich goalkeeper stretch out a hand and turn the midfielder’s shot onto the post, mattered little in this game.
It came just minutes after the Blues had slipped behind, with Gerken able to do little about Graham’s penalty or Nuttall’s second which followed just a few minutes later.
The save from Rothwell was the only real time the Ipswich goalkeeper was called into action and, while there remain questions over just how comfortable he is trying to play out from the back, he had a decent game.
Callum Elder had been having an good game for the first hour of this contest.
Watched by his father and sister from the stands, the Australian was composed, strong and defended well to keep former Norwich man Harrison Reed quiet.
His afternoon got harder when Adam Armstrong was switched to the right flank, though, and he got caught the wrong side of the forward and clipped his heels to give away the crucial penalty. He was then turned inside out by a sublime pass which freed Armstrong to cross for Joe Nutall’s second.
The penalty changed the game as, given they’d made it to the hour mark at 0-0, the Blues would have been hopeful of claiming at least a point.
Moment you may have missed
In the aftermath of referee Darren England’s long, ponderous, decision to point to the spot following Elder’s foul on Armstrong, captain Luke Chambers spent a long time having his say with the officials.
He then opted to have a kick at the turf, right by the penalty spot, potentially disturbing the ground and impacting Danny Graham’s penalty. It was more out of frustration than being a calculated move.
England saw what Chambers was up to and showed him the yellow card before the striker converted from 12 yards.
There were a few from this game and none of them are particular positive.
This was Paul Lambert’s fifth game managing against Blackburn, a team he managed in 2015/16, and he’s yet to win.
The defeat continues a run of 11 winless league games at Ewood Park for the Blues, dating back to 1991.
Ipswich have now gone 619 minutes without an away goal – Freddie Sears’ strike at Reading in November was the last.
The Blues have now conceded at least twice in 13 successive Championship away games. The only one in which they didn’t this season was the 1-0 loss at Rotherham in August.
You have to feel sorry for the 562 Ipswich fans who travelled to this game, even if 50 had their travel paid for by Blues boss Paul Lambert.
Firstly because their 500-mile, more than 10-hour, round-trip was rewarded by a disappointing display and no points.
But secondly because they were forced to watch this game from the top tier of an otherwise entirely empty stand. They are not alone in this, either. Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall and QPR have all done the same so far this season.
Maybe there are added costs for Blackburn if they were to house a few hundred fans in the vast lower tier. Or maybe they are trying to hide the visiting fans and limit their impact on the game.
But surely it would be beneficial for everyone if they were able to contribute to the atmosphere, which was far from raucous, as much as possible?
Following the addition of six new signings, Lambert now has real decisions to make regarding his starting XI.
Will Keane has played as both a No.10 and a central striker, so in which is he most effective?
Collin Quaner has been given assurances that he will be used as a centre-forward but would he be more effective wide on the right?
Does Ellis Harrison offer more than either of the two new signings when leading the line?
Who, if anyone, makes way to allow Judge to play in his favoured No.10 position?
It’s clear Ipswich need more dynamism from the centre of midfield, so how does Lambert shuffle his pack accordingly? Are there roles for Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop or even Emyr Huws to play here?
How does Lambert ensure Ipswich are more of a threat from wide areas?
Five of the Ipswich starting XI at Blackburn were new signings so it’s perhaps understandable that some of those relationships have yet to full form.
But Ipswich are running out of time, with Lambert needing to quickly find the formula if his side are to have any chance of producing the greatest of escapes.