Sunday Snap: The False Nine, Gwion’s Town’s best in 20 years and the Ipswich player now ‘bigger than the club’
PUBLISHED: 11:32 18 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:38 18 October 2020
Ipswich Town beat Accrington Stanley 2-0 at Portman Road yesterday. Andy Warren looks at the events surrounding the game....
Game four of the series is in the books and, with the home team holding serve once again, we’re heading to a deciding game five in Lancashire.
No, I’m not talking about the NHL play-offs. I’m talking about the ongoing battle between Ipswich Town and Accrington Stanley.
It’s become something of an epic. Stanley went 2-0 up courtesy of the grimmest of grim FA Cup humblings in January 2019 before the men from the Wham Stadium sent Ipswich’s promotion bid tumbling off course nine months later with another win. This time, it was on TV for all to see.
That tumble turned out to be terminal, with Ipswich never truly recovering, though there were signs of life in January of this year when the Blues beat Stanley 4-1 at Portman Road to go top of the table briefly once again.
We know how last season ended, but this weekend’s victory keeps Ipswich top of the tree and, more importantly (*not actually more importantly) levels the series with Stanley at 2-2.
The deciding game will be played on March 2 in Accrington. A win for Ipswich would mean all the bad memories from their two previous visits can be forgotten.
A win for Stanley would secure their position as Town’s bogey side once and for all.
Sadly there is no trophy. There should be.
Five wins and a draw from the first six league games represents Town’s best start to a season since 1980/81 - and we all know how that campaign turned out.
But there’s another good omen floating in the air.
Gwion Edwards’ fifth goal in six League One games puts him top of the third tier scoring charts and means he has made the best scoring start to a season by an Ipswich player in more than 20 years.
You have to go back to David Johnson’s seven goals in 1999/00 to find better, with Town’s No.9 bagging seven goals in the first six league games of a season in which he would end on 23 and help Ipswich win promotion.
Town have actually had some fast starters in recent years, with players scoring four in the first six games in all but one of the last five seasons. They are James Norwood (2019/20), Martyn Waghorn (2017/18), Grant Ward (2016/17) and Freddie Sears (2015/16).
But Edwards sits atop all of them.
The False Nine
Alan Judge starting as a central striker will have raised a few eyebrows when the teams were announced at 2pm yesterday.
But keen Football Manager players will have known exactly what was about to happen.
The Irishman was being deployed as a False Nine which, according to FM (I’m still playing the 2014 version, with my game in the year 2105) meaning he is ‘in some ways, similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder and operates as an unconventional lone striker who drops deep into midfield.
‘The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing central defenders who can either follow him, leaving space behind for on-rushing midfielders, or wide players to exploit.’
And while it didn’t really work for Ipswich, Judge actually played the role pretty well considering the size advantage he was giving to Accrington defenders close to a foot taller than him on average.
The problem was Ipswich weren’t able to play high enough up the pitch for the midfielders to get beyond the Irishman.
All eyes on Doncaster on Tuesday night to see if Town operate with a Shadow Striker, Deep Lying Forward, Poacher or whether Lambert fancies asking Judge to be his ‘Trequartista’.
This column has already proclaimed the Bristol Rovers pairing of Anssi Jaakkola and Jordi van Stappershoef to have the best goalkeeping names in League One.
It’s time to think again. If you play along, Toby Savin is the most wonderfully apt name for a goalkeeper.
He was saving, too. Initially, anyway, making two good stops from Freddie Sears before ultimately being beaten twice.
Aside from the clash between Ipswich and Accrington, the eyes of the English football world were on Goodison Park for a behind-closed-doors Merseyside Derby.
Jon Nolan, though schooled at Everton, is as big a Liverpool fan as you will find. No mixed loyalties there. So it’s maybe of little surprise that the midfielder was the last to emerge for the warm-up. Was he hanging around to take in as much of the lunchtime kick-off as possible before getting on with his own job? I’m going to speculate and say, yes.
He entered the Portman Road pitch with just a few minutes to go in the Liverpool game and wouldn’t have seen Jordan Henderson’s ridiculously disallowed winner.
He’d have been fuming when he found out.
Tyreece Simpson made the bench for Ipswich amid their striker shortage and could even have got off the mark as a professional, had he not been so unselfish inside the box during the final few seconds of his late cameo.
But if things had been a bit different had he moved on loan to Cambridge City, as was being discussed prior to the closure of the transfer window.
Depending on the result of Kayden Jackson’s Covid test, he may be on the bench again at Doncaster.
He’s bigger than the club
No player is bigger than the club. No player is bigger than any club.
We know that. We’ve heard countless managers and pundits run out the now cliched line time and time again.
But in the case of teenager Elkan Baggott – he off an EFL Trophy debut and massive following in Indonesia – he actually is.
The young central defender now has 110,000 Instagram followers, thanks to the fact he made his Indonesia U19 debut earlier in the week, doubling his following. For context, Town’s next best followed player is James Norwood on a humble 18,000.
Ipswich Town themselves have just under 80,000 followers.
He’s bigger than the club. On Instagram at least.
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