Andy’s Angles: Town Under 23s’ impressive season comes to disappointing end in play-off semi
PUBLISHED: 21:24 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 22:33 30 April 2019
Ipswich Town’s Under 23s were beaten 3-0 in their Professional Development League semi-final by Birmingham tonight. ANDY WARREN was there.
Tale of the game
Ipswich Town's impressive season at Under 23 level came to a disappointing end, following a 3-0 loss to Birmingham City.
The young Blues finished top of the Professional Development League Two South table but, in this play-off game against the side that finished second in the northern group, they fell short.
They were behind early, as Harry Wright was only able to claw a long-range shot onto the head of the on-rushing Kyle Hurst, as Birmingham came firing out of the traps.
But the youngsters responded well, with Brett McGavin chipping wide and then Idris El Mizouni forcing a save from visiting keeper Zach Jeacock.
But it was 2-0 just 25 minutes in as, following attempted clearances from Corrie Ndaba and Dylan Crowe, Adan George was able to turn a shot home past Wright.
Watched by Paul Lambert and his staff, the young Blues hassled and harried as they looked to find a way back into the contest, while Wright made three good saves to keep it at 2-0. but the hosts were unable to extend an impressive campaign for one more game as Hurst completed the scoring with another goal in stoppage time..
It's not just the first-team dealing with a striker shortage at the moment.
Paul Lambert could conceivably be without a recognised striker for Sunday's season finale against Leeds, with the stacked injury list also impacting the Under 23s.
Bens Morris and Folami saw their seasons ended by knee ligament and Achilles injuries respectively, robbing the Under 23s of their most potent marksman earlier this season, with Aaron Drinan out on loan at Waterford.
Scholar Zak Brown led the line this evening against two physical Birmingham centre-halves and, despite no shortage of effort, struggled to make an impact or give the Blues a platform to play from.
Colin Oppong, a trialist who looks set to join as a scholar, came on to lead the line during the second half but the Blues still struggled in the final third.
Struggling to put the ball in the net has been the story of Ipswich's season at first-team level and, sadly, it cost the young Blues tonight at the end of an excellent campaign.
A chance for Josh
With Barry Cotter suspended due to his dissent-fuelled red card in the last Under 23s game at Portman Road, Josh Emmanuel started at right-back for the Blues.
He was last seen in a Blue shirt at Preston, where he was substituted at half-time with first-team boss Lambert admitting the 21-year-old had struggled.
Lambert has indicated the club will take the one-year extension option in the youngsters contract, although that has yet to be formally confirmed, but it's not a stretch to suggest the Blues boss isn't entirely sold on a player who has spent much of the last two years out on loan.
Emmanuel was in the thick of the action after the Blues had slipped behind, picking the ball up on multiple occasions and looking to drive forward, but that influence waned slightly after the break. He did get forward well to lash a shot wide, though.
It remains to be seen whether he will be involved when the senior side face Leeds on Sunday.
Corrie Ndaba is surely the next Ipswich Town youngster in line for a first-team debut.
The Under 23s' skipper has been excellent this season, earning praise from Paul Lambert and Luke Chambers following a prolonged spell training with the first-team.
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He's far from the complete player, of course, but he has the raw tools. Pace, power, positional ability and leadership.
He also has a left foot, a rare commodity when it comes to central defenders, making his potential that little bit more exciting.
But for all of the good displays at youth level, of which this was another, and the glowing words from management, we must remember that at this stage potential is all it is. The jump between this level of football and the first-team is frightening and
He certainly has a real chance, though.
It's been quite the season for Idris El Mizouni.
He began it playing in the Blues' Under 18s and has ended it a first-team player with one start, three appearances as a substitute and four further inclusions on the bench.
But he was back with his young team-mates for this game, in his favoured central midfield position.
He had a few neat touches early on, springing Dylan Crowe away down the right, before meeting McGavin's corner to force a good save from Birmingham keeper Zach Jeacock, but was unable to pick the lock.
Armando Dobra is a combative midfielder who punches above his weight and possesses good quality on the ball, too. He was able to show off both sides of his game in this one, without being able to open too many doors for his side.
McGavin, a player in the mould of Cole Skuse, also had a decent game as he kept the ball moving in the middle of the park.
There's more to come from all three.
More time for trialists
These were the third starts for Ethan Patterson and Deese Kasinga-Madia during their trial spells at Portman Road.
Patterson is an 18-year-old central defender currently on the books at Aston Villa while Kasinga-Madia, also 18, is a left winger with Newcastle, but it's clear both are looking for horizons new.
Ipswich must like what they've seen, given both players have now been at the club for a month.
They both had decent moments in the game, although Kasinga-Madia saw little of the ball given much of the Ipswich play came down the right flank, before being replaced.
With the season now over, it's decision time regarding these two young men.
So the young Blues' season is over.
That means Birmingham progress to take on Leeds United at Elland Road, with the winners of the game crowned Professional Development League Two champions.
No date has been set as of yet, but the game must be played by Friday, May 10.
Ipswich Town U23s: Wright; Emmanuel, Patterson, Ndaba, Webber (Clements); McGavin, El Mizouni; Crowe (K Brown), Dobra, Kasinga-Madia (Oppong); Z Brown
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