Sunday Snap: Keane matches a record, Lambert watch and Garner's muted celebration
PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 February 2019
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Andy Warren takes a snappy look back at the events and talking points surrounding Ipswich Town's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic.
No doubt about the stand-out Ipswich player.
Matthew Pennington deserved to be on the winning side in this game following a superb defensive performance.
He made a total of 13 clearances (Luke Chambers made 12), made three vital blocks and won the majority of his aerial duels. He also had the most touches of any Ipswich player (49) and did well to get his head on two Alan Judge balls into the box to force chances.
Sadly, though, the Ipswich defence was breached in stoppage time.
Pennington spent a prolonged period applauding the away support at full-time with his disappointment clear to see.
Under the radar
Jon Nolan’s work doesn’t always get noticed but his ability on the ball was in evidence in this game.
He values possession, is careful with the ball, makes every pass count and only gave the ball away once during the course of the 90 minutes.
The former Shrewsbury man also helped out in defence, sweeping up loose balls at the back and trying his best to spring Kayden Jackson away as the Blues looked to maintain a threat deep into the game.
The 26-year-old has made strides during the second half of this season and has shown enough to leave you thinking he has a real role to play under Lambert next season.
Could have done more
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert made a point of insisting Flynn Downes should have done more to prevent the cross which led to the Wigan equaliser.
Downes, a late substitute, first let Reece James escape midway inside the Ipswich half before the Chelsea loanee broke free again and delivered a ball for Joe Garner to finish.
It will have been frustrating for Lambert to see his side lose two points thanks to familiar foe, which has cost the Blues time and again this season as they have failed to stop crosses coming in.
After the loss at Norwich a fortnight ago, captain Luke Chambers spoke of his side’s naivety as they failed to chop down Emi Buendia in midfield and take a yellow card to prevent him sliding the ball through for Teemu Pukki to add the Canaries’ second goal.
Ipswich did a good job of that during this game, regularly giving up tactical fouls and taking their punishments to stop a Wigan attack.
Maybe things would have been different had done the same.
Things could have been so different had Jonas Knudsen stayed on the field and the Blues kept their full compliment of 11 men.
The Dane was dismissed after 25 minutes after dragging down Leon Clarke after being caught out by a long ball over the top. Clarke was charging towards goal and, while Chambers could be argued to have been covering, there can be little complaint regarding the decision.
Prior to the red card, though, Ipswich had bossed the game.
Lambert’s switch to three at the back and the introduction of wing backs had worked perfectly, with the triangles down the right involving James Bree, Alan Judge and the Ipswich strikers causing all manner of problems.
Will Keane’s penalty put the 10 men ahead just seven minutes after Knudsen’s red card, but we’ll never know what might have been had the defender stayed on the field.
The Ipswich Town boss was consigned to the stands for this game as he served the first of his two-game ban following his red card at Norwich.
Lambert took his seat in the front row of the directors box, alongside general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill and just a couple of rows in front of owner Marcus Evans. Former Blues boss, and current Wigan director, Joe Royle was also in attendance, as was former Sunderland and Leeds manager Peter Reid.
The animated Lambert we so regularly see on the touchline was replaced by a man with a laser focus as he watched from on high, largely keeping calm throughout.
Will Keane’s goal on 32 minutes was greeted with a single fist-pump, before he exited the box prior to the end of the first-half to communicate his thoughts at the break.
The Blues boss responded when asked for ‘wave’ by the 800 away supporters and would have been proud of the way his players defended for an hour with 10 men.
There was late heartbreak as Joe Garner equalised for the Latics, prompting a glazed, disbelieving stare from a shellshocked Lambert before the full-time whistle went.
Down on the touchline, assistant Stuart Taylor and coach Matt Gill were energised throughout, roaring their players on and having their say to the officials.
Lambert’s touchline manner has been vital in getting the Portman Road crowd going on occasions this season, but he’ll be absent again for Reading’s visit at the weekend.
A moment you may have missed
As the teams left the field at half-time, referee Lee Probert was drenched as the sprinklers were prematurely turned on.
Both sets of fans certainly enjoyed it.
Keane’s first-half penalty means he has now matched his scoring record at any club, as he put the ball home for the third time in an Ipswich shirt.
The striker scored three in 13 games during a loan spell for Sheffield Wednesday in 2015 but has reached that total for the Blues in just his eighth game.
His career record now reads P87 G9.
He’s clearly got ability and is thriving with a run of games as he looks to recapture the momentum which made him a stand-out player in the Manchester United youth system.
Injury is the reason his career has struggled to get going since leaving Old Trafford, with the hamstring problem which took him out of this game hopefully not sidelining him for too long.
He would no doubt be the leading man if Ipswich were able to secure his signature on a permanent basis. Whether that’s possible remains to be seen.
Garner quickly checked himself and opted not to celebrate his late equaliser.
Respecting your former employers is admirable of course, but surely the joy of finding the net with a dramatic late goal and securing what could be an important point for your current team should supersede that?
Ipswich Town are playing with fight, heart and courage but it feels like it’s too little, too late.
In what has been a miserable season in terms of results, yesterday’s draw means the Blues have gone three games unbeaten for just the second time this season.
In the last three games, all ending in 1-1 draws, Lambert’s men have battled back when it would have been easy to fold after falling behind after two minutes against Derby, found a last-minute equaliser against Stoke and took the lead and then held out for an hour with 10 men at Wigan.
But Ipswich need wins and have only managed three points three times this season - simply not good enough.
They have not been able to capitalise on the many occasions when other results have gone their way, as they did again this weekend when rivals Reading and Rotherham played out a 1-1 draw.
The Royals are the visitors next weekend in a game that Ipswich simply must win if any lingering hope of survival is to be maintained. Nothing else will do.
But then we’ve said that many times before this season.