Andy's Angles: Huws' return, Cotter's drive, two more emerging youngsters and plenty of heart - observations as nine-man U23s win
PUBLISHED: 14:42 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:43 26 March 2019
Andy Warren gives his take on Ipswich Town Under 23s’ 3-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Playford Road this afternoon.
Tale of the game
This was another successful outing for Ipswich Town’s table-topping Under 23s, who showed talent and heart in equal measure to win despite finishing the game with just nine men.
Barry Cotter fired the Blues ahead with a well-struck effort from 25-yards, which flew in off the post, before Joe West levelled things up for Wednesday with a neat free-kick which crept through the Ipswich wall.
Corrie Ndaba, who captained the side, restored the lead after the break as he converted following a Lounes Foudil corner.
Tyreece Simpson followed up a spilled Tristan Nydam free-kick to make it 3-1, with the young Blues holding on to win despite finishing the game with nine men.
The major positive for the Blues was the appearance of Emyr Huws (more on him later), playing his first game since August as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. He completed his planned 60 minutes, with the Blues going down to 10 men after using all three substitutes, and showed flashes of what he’s all about.
They lost another man with 10 minutes to go, after substitute Dylan Crowe left the game injured, but the youngsters held on well despite Wednesday pressure as they defended superbly in the final minutes.
The victory leaves Ipswich eight points clear of Crystal Palace at the top of the table and 11 ahead of Coventry in third, meaning the Sky Blues will need to win all four of their remaining games to have any hope of denying the Blues a place in the end-of-season play-offs against the Northern division’s top two sides.
While the first-team look destined for relegation to League One, the Under 23 side will have a chance to play for silverware.
How good is it to see Emyr Huws back out on a football pitch?
We know just how big an impact the Welshman can make to the Ipswich Town side but, sadly, it’s an impact we’ve not been able to witness in well over a year.
His last senior appearance came at Middlesbrough in December 2017, where he suffered a knee cartilage injury which ultimately required surgery.
He trained in the summer, last played for the Under 23s in August and was on the bench for the first-team for their victory over Rotherham in January, but a series of niggles have meant a return has not been possible.
He played within himself on this occasion but played an hour, using the ball well and bringing others into play, popping the ball off to Barry Cotter for the right-back to drive home Ipswich’s first goal. There were even a couple of driving runs into opposition territory and occasions where he threw himself into tackles.
He looks a fair way from a competitive return of course, completely understandable given the length of time he’s been sidelined, and patience is required as his comeback bid continues.
But this is real, positive, progress.
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert was recently asked where Cotter stood in his right-back pecking order, with the Scot suggesting the youngster is currently fourth in line.
Lambert was present to watch this game and would have seen the Irishman’s full repertoire.
His goal was superb, as he picked up the ball following a neat Huws pass and drove forward before letting fly from 25 yards to find the net.
There were other neat touches too as he got forward to support his attackers, while his athletic ability both in the air and on the ground was on display.
There were some moments where he lost concentration and played some loose balls, though, while he did the majority of his defensive work well.
Lambert said young players have to be ‘motoring’ if they are to break into his side, with Cotter seemingly having more to prove if he is to return to senior action.
He clearly has the raw tools to be a success, but has plenty of raw edges to smooth over.
Ipswich Town fans may not be familiar with Tommy Hughes and Tyreece Simpson.
Both are regulars for the Blues’ Under 18 side but have pushed up to Under 23 level and didn’t look out of place.
Hughes is an 18-year-old forward, deployed wide on this occasion, who is busy throughout. You may have seen his recent goal for the Under 18s, when he scored from inside his own half as his side came back from 2-0 down to win at Birmingham earlier this month. Watch it, it’s worth it.
Sadly his afternoon was ended early, with what looked like an ankle injury, which hopefully isn’t too bad.
Simpson is a powerful forward who is also a talented rugby player and has previously been on trial at Manchester City.
He’s scored goals for the Under 18s this season, his first as a scholar, and offered a good focal point in attack here before converting well after Nydam’s free-kick was spilled in the box.
Both youngsters were in and out of the game at times but both showed why they should be Under 23 regulars next season.
A notable absence
A stalwart of the Under 23s’ success this season was notable by his absence this afternoon.
Toby Egan replaced Harry Wright in goal following the latter’s loan move to Chelmsford. That temporary spell, giving the Blues’ third choice goalkeeper some vital experience, started well with the 20-year-old making the non-league ‘team of the weekend’ following a good display in the Clarets’ 3-0 win at Truro.
In defence, Cotter and Ndaba returned despite being on Republic of Ireland Under 21 duty as recently as Sunday night, although neither made it off the bench in the victory over Luxembourg. Armando Dobra is currently with the Albania Under 19 squad while Dylan Crowe came off the bench after a spell with England’s Under 18s.
Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes, who could have potentially been involved, are with England’s Under 20s while strikers Ben Morris (knee ligament) and Ben Folami (Achilles) are out with long-term injuries.
Ipswich Town Under 23s: Egan, Cotter, Smith (Clements), Ndaba, Webber; Huws, Nydam, El Mizouni (Foudil); Brown, Hughes (Crowe), Simpson