Ipswich Town won 3-2 at Port Vale last night. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cameron Humphreys is mobbed by his team-mates after the final whistle at Port Vale.Cameron Humphreys is mobbed by his team-mates after the final whistle at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)


Let's start with what, ultimately, this night will be best remembered for - Cameron Humphreys' fine full league debut.

Just five days before his 19th birthday, the academy graduate played a huge role in Ipswich Town winning this game.

It was him who put the Blues 2-0 up with the sweetest of left-footed strikes after a corner had been half-cleared. And it was his driving underlap and cross from the left which led to Freddie Ladapo's winner.

"His all-round performance was just fantastic to watch," enthused boss Kieran McKenna.

"The effort and endeavour that he put into the match was what he shows us every day in training. He's got talent, he's got a heart of a lion, an incredible will to win and he rinsed every bit out of himself tonight."

Those that know him best say what a grounded individual Humphreys is.

Just like when Kyle Edwards had his two-goal display against Cambridge United earlier this month, it was clear how genuinely delighted team-mates were for him at the end.

After the full-time whistle, Humphreys eventually escaped a string of hugs to fist-pump in the direction of 1,750 joyous away fans as Elvis Presley's 'Wonder of You' played.

Ipswich Town have got themselves a star in the making.

East Anglian Daily Times: Freddie Ladapo is all smiles at Port Vale.Freddie Ladapo is all smiles at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)


Amidst all the Humphreys euphoria, it's perhaps over-looked what a big night this was for Freddie Ladapo.

Earlier this month, the 29-year-old summer signing from Rotherham admitted to having had sleepless nights over his shortage of goals during the early stages of the campaign.

Scoring in successive games against Arsenal U21s, Plymouth and Portsmouth lifted his spirits, but frustrating games against both Cambridge United and Lincoln followed and he won't have been happy starting on the bench when Derby came to Portman Road.

For me, the 'we haven't signed a 20-goal-a-season striker' comments started way too early. His hard-working performances for the team, though far from perfect, should have brought more grace. This is a player not only adapting to a new club but also a completely new style of play.

East Anglian Daily Times: Freddie Ladapo celebrates putting Ipswich ahead at Port Vale.Freddie Ladapo celebrates putting Ipswich ahead at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)

Last night showed that he's beginning to get on the same wavelength as his new team-mates.

After a one-touch move led to Leif Davis sweeping in a fine low cross, Ladapo showed great movement to convert on the stretch inside the six-yard box.

Again, he was in the right place at the right time for the winner.

Six goals makes him Town's joint topscorer in all competitions alongside Conor Chaplin and Marcus Harness.

He's now bagged five in his last 448 minutes of football. That's one a game.


Under McKenna, Ipswich have an outstanding defensive record.

A possession-based game means they tend to concede very few chances and, as a result, have kept a ridiculous number of clean sheets (22 in 43).

That can't be taken for granted though.

The set-piece goals conceded against Morecambe and Lincoln recently could perhaps be dismissed as being a little freakish.

However, these two definitely have to go down as 'must do better'.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cameron Humphreys celebrates at Port Vale.Cameron Humphreys celebrates at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)

The first was particularly bad. Wes Burns lost an aerial duel, Janoi Donacien failed to stop the cross, David Worrall beat both Leif Davis and George Edmundson in the air at the back post, Luke Woolfenden and Dominic Ball both failed to get their head on the ball and then Burns turned his back as Gavin Massey side-footed home. It was a catalogue of errors.

That goal, coming deep into first half stoppage-time, completely changed the dynamic of this game.

Within seconds of the restart, Port Vale had scored again. This time some slack play by Woolfenden led to a corner. Ball then charged out to try and meet the near post delivery with his head but failed. The ball popped up off James Wilson's thigh and Nathan Smith, after taking a touch in a crowded spot, expertly volleyed home.

Deliveries into the box, particularly from the right side, had caused Ipswich plenty of problems during the opening half hour too. Ellis Harrison really should have scored with one early header.

Defending crosses and set-pieces is something Ipswich need to sharpen up on.

East Anglian Daily Times: Dominic Ball in action at Port Vale.Dominic Ball in action at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)


Digging this result out deserves extra credit given the players who were unavailable.

Midfield duo Sam Morsy and Lee Evans have arguably been Town's top-two performers over the opening weeks of the campaign. They've certainly been the most consistent.

Morsy served a one-game suspension for this one though, while Evans is facing up to a few weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury.

We've discussed Humphreys. The other man to step into the midfield was Dominic Ball. This was only his second league start for the club.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cameron Burgess comes on as a sub wearing his mask at Port Vale.Cameron Burgess comes on as a sub wearing his mask at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)

"It shows the importance of the squad," said McKenna. "I thought Dom stepped in and was excellent. He tired a little bit in the second half but that's to be expected. First half, straight away, he knew all the patterns and all the pictures. He was passing it through the lines to both pockets. He a lovely hand in the first goal with a first time pass to Kyle (Edwards).

"Him and Cameron have played a few (cup) games together so it was a partnership that clicked into gear pretty well."

With Kane Vincent-Young having joined Evans, Greg Leigh, Sone Aluko and Gassan Ahadme in the treatment room, McKenna had to name two players on the bench who have only just returned to fitness - Panutche Camara and Cameron Burgess.

Burgess was introduced at the very end of this match wearing a protective face mask. That's a remarkable recovery given he underwent surgery for multiple facial fractures little more than a month ago.


In the 43rd minute of this game, with Ipswich 2-0 up, Port Vale keeper Adam Stone raced off his line to block at the feet of Burns.

Burns quickly gestured for the physios to come on. Completely motionless, it was clear the home keeper was out cold for a good few seconds.

FA rules now state that 'following a confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness, the player must be removed from the field of play, and not be allowed to return'.

Yet after a lengthy check, Stone (the only keeper in Port Vale's squad) was allowed to continue.

Football clearly still has a way to go in truly taking head injury protocols seriously.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieran McKenna celebrates after the final whistle at Port Vale.Kieran McKenna celebrates after the final whistle at Port Vale. (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)


Ipswich have won six of their opening eight away games in the league. That's mightily impressive.

They remain second and two points behind Plymouth after the latter came from behind to beat Shrewsbury at home.

But a 14-point gap to seventh-place Exeter has now opened up.

How does McKenna reflect now we're a third of the way into the campaign?

"I haven't spent too much time reflecting," he said. "It's all eyes and all guns blazing ahead of Charton (away) on Saturday now.

"November is a little bit different with at least one, hopefully two FA Cup ties, plus an EFL (Trophy) tie and not so many league games. So I think once we get through Saturday it will be a chance to look back on the first period of the season.

"For now it's just game-by-game. They're coming thick and fast and we're at full stretch in terms of the squad. We just need keep completely focused."