Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-1 home draw with Sunderland
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town drew 1-1 with Sunderland in their opening home game of the season. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
ANOTHER GOAL FOR GARBUTT (AND ANOTHER INJURY)
Luke Garbutt had scored 10 career goals before he arrived at Ipswich Town. He's now scored two in two for the Blues.
The 26-year-old's stalling career was given a shot in the arm when he was converted from a left-back to a left-winger midway through his loan spell at Oxford United last season. Paul Lambert recruiting him for that role looks a masterstroke.
His 15th minute finish was calmness personified. After Janoi Donacien's long throw up the line was helped inside, Garbutt burst between a clutch of defenders before squeezing the ball inside the far post from the acutest of angles.
He almost made it 2-0 in the 37th minute when running onto Kayden Jackson's low cross at the far post. His crisp shot took a slight deflection off the sliding defender and was kept out by the keeper's chest.
It was a shame, therefore, to see Garbutt limp off with a knee injury moments later. As if there weren't enough players in the treatment room as it is.
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NO KILLER SECOND
Town looked like a side buoyed by an opening day win, a vocal crowd of 24,051 and a manager who has taken the shackles off.
Sunderland, by contrast, seemed weighed down by pressure following last season's Wembley heartache and a frustrating opening home draw with Oxford.
The Blues, with the wind behind them, had the visitors by the throat in the first half. James Norwood won countless aerial battles, while strike partner Kayden Jackson used his pace to close down and run the channels.
Jackson was controversially booked for a 'dive' when Town looked to have a strong shout for a penalty, Cole Skuse had an effort at a corner cleared off the line, while Norwood hooked a chance just wide and had several shots charged down in the box.
In the end they were left to rue not finding that killer second goal.
Paul Lambert said he had a 'dilemma' on his hands given the team kept a clean sheet at Burton with Luke Chambers suspended. In the end, the Blues skipper came straight back into the team at the expense of James Wilson.
There are some who will tell you that for all his passion and leadership, the 33-year-old is on the decline as a defender. His error for Sunderland's equaliser, sadly, does little to quell that particular school of thought.
He may well have thought the wind was going to carry a long ball out of touch. He may well have thought keeper Tomas Holy might have come to collect. Even so, it probably should have just been stuck in row Z.
Instead, Chambers was hustled off the ball on the byline by Marc McNulty and the ball was pulled back for Lynden Gooch to slam home a 64th minute equaliser.
Lambert has promised to go 'all guns blazing' and that it would be a 'who dares wins' philosophy. He stuck with a 4-4-2 system.
Sunderland, whose new-look wing-back formation has drawn criticism from fans, were over-run in the wide areas. At half-time, Jack Ross was forced into a reshuffle. How refreshing to see the opposition matching up Town rather than vice-versa.
It did enable Sunderland to get a foothold in the game though. Even before the equaliser, it did feel like the tide was turning a little in what was, granted, a game lacking quality.
Judge playing on the left-side of a 4-4-2 simply doesn't work. The Irishman always wants to drift inside and can leave his full-back exposed. There was one moment where he loitered in central midfield that sparked both Lambert and assistant Stuart Taylor to race to edge of their technical area and bark orders for him to get back to the flank and keep disciplined with his position.
It has to be said that Judge looked very ring-rusty. Very little he tried came off. Perhaps that is understandable given he missed most of pre-season with a broken wrist.
Andre Dozzell ended up coming on as a right-winger in the latter stages. It just highlights the lack of genuine wide options at the moment with Gwion Edwards, Jack Lankester and now Garbutt all crocked.
PLENTY OF POSITIVES
It was impossible not to feel a little deflated at the full-time whistle. This felt like two points dropped. Ipswich, as has so often been the case in recent years, had failed to win in front of a bumper crowd. Ipswich, as has so often been the case in recent years, had failed to back-up one win with another.
It is, however, four points from the opening two games for a team that had developed a nasty losing habit. That's not to be sniffed at, especially as Burton and Sunderland are expected to be in the promotion mix.
Young Luke Woolfenden put in yet another assured display at the back. Cole Skuse was understatedly excellent in midfield. Flynn Downes is blossoming. Norwood is providing a focal point to the attack which was so badly lacking last term. There are some key men to come back, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
Next up... Luton Town, at Kenilworth Road, in the Carabao Cup first round on Tuesday night. Lambert's options are limited, but he'll shuffle the pack.