Cornell produced a mixed bag and could never truly dislodge Holy as Cook seeks new No.1
- Credit: PA
David Cornell has left Ipswich Town after his contract was mutually terminated after just one year. Andy Warren looks back at his time in blue.
The vast majority of Ipswich Town fans won’t have seen goalkeeper David Cornell play live in the flesh.
The Welshman’s Town contract being terminated by mutual consent means it’s another case of ‘one and done’ for last summer’s batch of signings, with Stephen Ward exiting after just one year and Oli Hawkins potentially following in the coming weeks.
Cornell’s one year in Ipswich consisted of an error on his first appearance at Tottenham, a three-month wait for a league appearance, two short bursts as No.1 goalkeeper, some great games, some average ones, a penalty save, a blunder at Swindon and an early departure.
He came in following his Northampton exit to challenge Tomas Holy for a starting spot and, in reality, there was very little between the two goalkeepers as they battled to be No.1 under Paul Lambert and then Paul Cook.
Cornell had to make do with cup football until the end of November, with the first time most Ipswich fans will have seen him play being the BBC-televised FA Cup clash with Portsmouth which saw a Ronan Curtis free-kick squeeze between him and the post just a few minutes in.
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Town’s best, certainly most consistent, central defensive pairing last season was Toto Nsiala and James Wilson, but Cornell only played behind the duo once. Coincidentally that game was arguably his best in Ipswich green/black/coral as he made a string of impressive saves as the Blues narrowly lost to Fulham in the EFL Trophy.
And when he did finally make the League One side, it was predominantly behind a pairing of Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness who, while both certainly possessing plenty of talent, were raw in many areas and didn’t always click as a duo.
Cornell did get 10 league starts though and, while he did have some good moments, he wasn’t able to separate himself from Holy, meaning for those of us who only get to see him on matchday, the Blues had two goalkeepers of a similar standard.
The fact Holy played 36 league games also suggests he wasn’t able to prove his point sufficiently in training, either, despite many in the camp believing he was the superior goalkeeper. He was certainly a popular figure at the club.
Holy also had the first dozen games of Paul Cook’s reign before the new boss finally took a look at Cornell, with the Welshman playing well in the four matches he was given, bar a really poor error away at Swindon.
That wasn’t enough to convince Cook he should rely on him for his first full season in charge, though, and Cornell was told he was free to move on before his deal was ultimately terminated by mutual consent just a few weeks later.
He moves on following a season in which the Blues played 49 of their 52 games in empty stadiums and, while Cornell was in goal for the three games (two games at home) Town did play in front of fans, it’s likely he won’t live long in the memory of Ipswich supporters.
What went well
Cornell had some really good moments during a short Ipswich career, with perhaps his best display coming in just his second game as he was the best Town player during a narrow loss to Fulham.
He made a string of saves to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic, including one half of a double stop which also saw him keep out Bobby Decordova-Reid's follow-up.
He captained a young Ipswich team at Crawley in the EFL Trophy and, after returning to the side for a second spell to end the season, made a good penalty save to deny Joe Pigott of AFC Wimbledon. That save was even better due to the fact a lack of crowd meant you could hear his mind-games in the lead-up to the spot kick.
He showed all of his strengths in the season’s final away game, away at Shrewsbury, as he made a string of excellent saves and spread himself well to snuff out home attacks throughout the course of the game.
That’s probably the strongest part of his game, his ability to quickly come off his line and either smother shots or steal the ball from an attacker’s feet. He was superior to Holy in this area.
Areas to improve
Things didn’t start particularly well for Cornell as, after pushing to play at Tottenham in pre-season, just a couple of training sessions deep into his Ipswich career, the Welshman made a kicking area which presented Son Heung-Min with the game’s second goal. He wouldn’t have been happy with that, even if the backpass from Luke Woolfenden was far from the best.
You sensed he was playing catch-up in his battle for a starting spot from that day on.
He could perhaps have done more with the effort which squeezed past him against Portsmouth and of course made an absolute mess of things at Swindon as he took his eye off the ball and allowed a tame Brett Pitman shot to squirm away from him and into the corner of the net. It was almost ‘too easy’. To his credit, he recovered well during the rest of the game.
Aside from individual goals conceded, the one side of Cornell’s game which needs work is dealing with balls into his box, which can often see him getting struck in traffic and struggling to find a way through bodies to make the clearances expected and needed of him.
It could have cost his side more than it actually did.
What the future holds
Cornell’s contract was settled early on Friday, leaving the 30-year-old free to find a new club.
His Northampton showreel alone will be enough for him to secure a new club soon enough, with teams known to be interested at Championship level.
Second-tier interest may come as a surprise to some, just as it did last summer when Will Norris was the subject of Championship inquiries before he ultimately moved to the Premier League with Burnley.
Wherever he goes, he’s likely going to have to battle for a starting spot, rather than being a guaranteed No.1, and it remains to be seen whether he’s able to win that war this summer.
Wherever he ends up, he’ll be hoping he gets more of an opportunity to show what he can do.
From Ipswich’s point of view, the Blues will be looking for a new No.1 given Holy could also move on the summer, with Cook looking for an upgrade between the sticks.