Ipswich Town lost 2-1 at Plymouth Argyle yesterday. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.


Ipswich Town have come a hell of a long way in the space of just nine months. The last eight days shows they still have a way to go yet on this rapid journey of individual and collective improvement under Kieran McKenna.

The Blues were 2-0 up at Sheffield Wednesday with 15 minutes to go. One goal back rocked them. It ended 2-2.

Yesterday, Town were 1-0 up at Plymouth with 21 minutes to go. One goal back rocked them. They lost 2-1.

Not many teams will win at Hillsborough or Home Park this season. Ipswich came so close. That's what makes it all the more frustrating.

There's certainly no shame in these results. There are undoubtedly plenty of positives to take from both performances.

But there's also no getting away from the fact that these last two results pick at an emotional scab that has not yet fully healed.

Talk of a 'TV curse' continues (that's now three wins in 36 in front of the cameras), while nagging doubts about not being able to beat the better sides in the divisions get a little louder.

Town's record against the teams that finished in the top six over the previous three seasons read P35 W6 D13 L16 and they have now failed to beat four of the current top six this season in Bolton, Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth.

Up next... the visit of third-place Portsmouth to a packed Portman Road next Saturday. It's a big one.


Fresh from his midweek goal against Arsenal Under-21s in the Papa John's Trophy, Freddie Ladapo was preferred to Tyreece John-Jules as the central striker.

Finally, at the 10th attempt, he bagged his first league goal for the Blues.

Towards the end of an very competitive first half, the alert front man raced onto the ball after it had spun forwards out of a Sam Morsy tackle.

His angled shot in the box hit the out-stretched foot of sliding defender Dan Scarr, ricocheted back into his own and subsequently looped over keeper Michael Cooper.

Ladapo had netted against his former club. Plymouth had conceded at Home Park for the first time in the league this season.


Town had big chances to score a second either side of half-time.

Kayden Jackson, playing the Wes Burns high right-sided role, slipped at the vital moment when being slid away by Conor Chaplin in the box.

After the restart, Jackson fizzed a low cross through the six-yard box, Janoi Donacien saw a shot blocked following Morsy's clever cut-back, while Marcus Harness fired wide of the post from a golden position inside the area.

Leif Davis saw a low cross hacked away. Then substitute John-Jules chopped back in the box and saw a deflected effort clawed behind.

Had any of those opportunities been converted then the atmosphere could have turned sour.


Town lost this game thanks to a combination of self-harm and quality Plymouth finishing.

Just like at Hillsborough, the foul count was too high. That fired up the home fans and gave the Argyle players something to feed off.

Ladapo and Harness were replaced by John-Jules and Kane Vincent-Young just before the hour. Jackson became the central striker. The logic was that the latter's pace would give Plymouth, chasing the game, something to worry about on the counter. What also happened, however, was that Town lost an ability to make the ball stick and relieve pressure.

Could Janoi Donacien got more on his headed clearance? Could Conor Chaplin have done better when challenging Dan Scarr for the loose ball? Perhaps. All that said, impressive Norwich City loanee Bali Mumba still had plenty to do for the equaliser. His dart and arrowed finish on the edge of the box was class.

All of a sudden a raucous home crowd turned the volume up. Could Ipswich calm things down? Sadly not. George Edmundson presented a pass straight to a man in green and Morgan Whittaker hammered a superb shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.


At this juncture, let's stop and give Plymouth some credit. They very much played their part in this open, entertaining and highly competitive game.

Steven Schumacher's men are the new league leaders. You can see why they are up there. For all the talk about Ipswich's missed opportunities in this match, Argyle had ample openings themselves. Some of their slick interplay in the final third was very impressive.

A big reason Town led going into the final quarter was the performance of goalkeeper Christian Walton. On his 200th career league appearance he made a string of smart stops and confident catches back at his boyhood club.

He almost showed the attacking players how it's done at the very death too.

After substitute Kyle Edwards forced a corner deep into stoppage-time, Town's keeper charged up from the back. Time then seemed to slow as Lee Evans' dead ball delivery arched its way towards him in the centre of the box. His leaping header, directed towards the top corner, was near perfect. Unfortunately, opposite number Michael Cooper was there to fingertip the ball onto the bar.

It was a fittingly dramatic end to a very watchable game of third-tier football.

Ipswich are fun to watch. Ten games in they look every bit a top-six side. Now they need to go and prove they can be top-two contenders.