Sunday Snap: Norwood's bizarre booking, Town's three amigos and the wrong-coloured bus
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Ipswich Town won 1-0 at Burton Albion on Saturday. Andy Warren looks back at the events surrounding the game.
Celebrate good times (at a distance)
Football has been under the microscope in recent days as the game’s continuation during the coronavirus crisis is questioned once again.
The focus now is on goal celebrations and a lack of social distancing, with Ipswich manager Paul Lambert admitting this week that the club initially feared the group celebration after Emyr Huws’ winner over Burton in December was the cause of the outbreak which saw the Blues shut down for 25 days.
You could feel the relief in the air when Mark McGuinness headed home what proved to be the winner on Saturday, a goal which in normal times would have been celebrated greatly by the entire team in front of a packed away end.
And while this celebration didn’t observe social distancing by the book, with a couple of players tempted to go in for hugs, this was a pretty good effort from the Blues following their first goal after the EFL issued renewed guidelines to its clubs. The Ipswich players restricted themselves to a few fist bumps and resisted natural urges to celebrate an important goal wildly.
You have to feel for players like McGuinness, who has been waiting for a moment like this his entire life, only to celebrate in front of concrete stands rather than sharing it with supporters as well as friends and family.
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The Blues have now visited the Pirelli Stadium four times and have four wins to their name.
The first two came in the Championship, where Freddie Sears and Bersant Celina scored winners in 2-1 victories, before Luke Garbutt and now Mark McGuinness made sure of 1-0 wins in League One.
This weekend’s win does little to change the mood music ahead of games with promotion-rivals Peterborough and Sunderland, though.
That’s in real contrast to last August’s win in Staffordshire, which raised real optimism as Lambert’s Ipswich made a winning start to life in the third tier.
Blocking it out
Earlier in the season, captain Luke Chambers’ fingers were in his ears as he ‘blocked out the noise’.
This weekend, though, he was all about blocking the ball out the net as he kept Town’s clean sheet intact with a sublime piece of defending to deny Charles Vernam on the line. It was brave, instinctive and vital.
As much as McGuinness was the match-winner, Chambers’ intervention did almost as much to secure the three points.
Had Town conceded before the break, there would have been serious concerns as to whether they would have been able to dig themselves out of trouble.
This was just the second time Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes have started a game together for Ipswich Town.
You have to go back to April 2019 for the first, as the Blues lost 2-0 at Brentford in the Championship, though it must be said Dozzell was used wide on the right that night at Griffin Park.
So was the first time we’ve seen them in a midfield three.
None were at their best in this game. We saw flashes of Bishop’s dribbling ability, a smattering of Downes’ intensity and a handful of Dozzell’s sublime passes.
Better days will be ahead for them all. I think we can all agree it would be nice to see more of this trio together.
Comedian in the middle
About 10 minutes into the game, Burton’s stadium announcer proclaimed (with his microphone off) that referee Neil Hair looked like comedian Michael McIntyre.
He was right. The floppy hair, the dramatic run. A great call. Sadly close-up photos dampen the comparison but, from a distance, it was bang on.
On the subject of Mr Hair, who generally had a decent game, there was one call which found the referee and his officiating crew on different pages.
Town striker James Norwood had taken a knock and left the field for treatment, seemingly on his hamstring, before waiting on the touchline to be given the go ahead to return to the pitch.
Fourth official Gareth Mellor clearly waved him back on before Norwood set about winning the ball back from a Burton defender. He was successful but was pulled up by the referee and promptly given a yellow card for entering the field too quickly.
Mr Mellor didn’t cover himself in glory here as, despite pressure from Norwood and the Ipswich bench, he hid himself away and didn’t inform the referee of what happened.
Ridiculous. Norwood was wound up and replaced a couple of minutes later in what was seemingly both a pre-planned substitution for a player just back from injury and a move which saved a potential second yellow.
Hopefully there are no further injury issues with his hamstring.
Toto Nsiala was Ipswich Town’s best player in this game, heading balls away time and again, making 10 clearances and an excellent first-half tackle on Vernam on a successful return to the first-team.
But all of that would have been forgotten had he slashed the ball into his own net when connecting with an Owen Gallacher cross midway through the second half.
Thankfully goalkeeper Tomas Holy, wearing his beautiful black and aqua kit, was able to pounce on the ball as it headed towards the net and save his defender’s blushes.
Rewind to Town’s last visit to Burton in August 2019 and it was Holy who was saved an embarrassing moment on his debut when, fortunately, he got away with taking an age over a kick before his effort was charged down by Liam Boyce and just dropped wide of the post.
Social distancing has made significant change to Town’s routine to away games, not least the need to take a second bus for road trips.
The squad are split between the two, with the club’s regular ‘gun metal’ carrier making the trips as well as a second bus which would have raised a few eyebrows had supporters been present to witness it pull into the Pirelli Stadium car park.
You can probably guess why from the picture above.