Colchester United 0 Ipswich Town 1 - what we learned

Adam Webster clears under pressure from Colchester's Mikael Mandron

Adam Webster clears under pressure from Colchester's Mikael Mandron

Ipswich Town beat Colchester United 1-0 in a pre-season game at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last night. Stuart Watson gives his thoughts.

Sammy Szmodics challenges Town's Bersant Celina

Sammy Szmodics challenges Town's Bersant Celina

THE GAME

Town’s mix-and-match side tried to play out of the back in a first half short of goalscoring chances at either end.

Blues winger Danny Rowe lobbed the keeper from 35 yards but his effort came down off the underside of the bar. At the other end, ex-Town defender Tom Eastman twice had chances from quickfire corners.

Town fans at the WHCS for the friendly against Colchester.

Town fans at the WHCS for the friendly against Colchester.

The visitors had a much more senior team after the break thanks to the introductions of Luke Chambers, Bersant Celina and Joe Garner. The latter broke the deadlock with an emphatic header in the 57th minute.

A host of substitutions punctuated the flow of the game. The U’s twice went close as Lewis Kinsella saw a shot deflected wide and Denny Johnstone headed a decent chance wide from a corner, with only a fine fingertip save by Sam Walker denying Freddie Sears a goal against his former club late on.

GARNER’S GOAL

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We all knew about Garner’s qualities when he arrived from Rangers in a £750k deal earlier this summer – he’s a pest and has got a real combative edge – but there was a slight question mark over his goalscoring record at Championship level.

Well, the 29-year-old has now netted six times in fives friendly outings and looked really sharp. After rising above his marker, Garner had to use his neck muscles to generate some real downward power to emphatically head home Myles Kenlock’s high cross.

CENTRE-BACK OPTIONS

Blues boss Mick McCarthy decided to see how new Wolves loanee Dominic Iorfa did at centre-back rather than his preferred right-back. That may have been due to the fact that two of his three senior central defenders have had curtailed pre-seasons.

Skipper Luke Chambers had his tonsils out earlier this summer and admits he is a little behind in his preparations, while Adam Webster missed the first three friendlies after rocking the ankle which kept him out for so long last season.

Iorfa has played plenty of football in the middle and at 6ft 4in tall the athletic 22-year-old is not exactly unsuitable to the role. There were a couple of moments where he was not afraid to turn his away out of danger at the back.

Webster, meanwhile, offered a reminder that he’s a Rolls Royce player. The 22-year-old won every header, barely broke a sweat and looked so comfortable with both feet.

Chambers replaced George Fowler at half-time, taking the captain’s armband from McGoldrick, and Iorfa moved to right-back.

WING PLAY

The 4-4-2 formation with flying wingers has served McCarthy well throughout his career and it’s clear he wants to go down that route in 2017/18.

Man City loanee Bersant Celina made an immediate impact when coming on, while Danny Rowe looked far more effective when switching to the right.

Those two both love to play on the ‘wrong’ side in order to cut inside onto their stronger foot and get shots away. That will be a big part of Town’s weaponry.

YOUNG BLUES

All the pre-season hype has, quite rightly, been about teenage midfielder Flynn Downes. A few other encouraging performances from academy graduates have gone under the radar though.

The tidy Tristan Nydam, still only 17, has looked good at left-back and centre-midfield and is one to watch. Northern Irish winger Conor McKendry was lively, while striker Ben Morris showed good movement.

COL U TALKING POINTS

John McGreal brought back his controversial 4-3-2-1 ‘Christmas tree’ formation with Sammie Szmodics and Drey Wright.

Big French striker Mandron, recently signed from Watford, showed some decent touches and should be a handful in League Two.

The U’s were organised out of possession, but didn’t use the ball particularly well when they got it. Their biggest threat came from set-pieces.