Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 defeat at Rotherham United
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Ipswich Town lost 1-0 at Rotherham United in a Championship clash this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his snap verdict
Town had almost two thirds of possession, produced 16 shots on goal, had two major penalty appeals waved away and forced 12 corners. And yet, despite some slick spells, you have to say they were never really banging the door down.
If anyone deserved to win it then it was certainly the visitors. A goalless finish would probably have been a fair reflection. And yet it was the Blues who were dealt a late bodyblow. Last weekend they scored a 90th minute leveller. This weekend they lost the game in the very same minute.
A free-kick delivered from near the left corner flag was not dealt with and striker Michael Smith swivelled to slam a fine finish into the top corner.
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We did say this new-look Town team might take time to fully find their feet. We knew there would be some bumps in the road ahead. It doesn’t make taking just one point from two games against newly-promoted opposition any easier to take.
Patience is a virtue, as they say.
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Another flying start
Just like last weekend, Town burst out the traps. They played with real intensity and positivity in the opening exchanges. Every throw-in and set-piece was taken with urgency and Rotherham were never allowed to settle.
Unlike against Blackburn, Paul Hurst’s men weren’t rewarded with an early goal. Gwion Edwards’ dangerous low cross was hacked away in the six-yard box, before Ellis Harrison and Jon Nolan both had shots blocked. That was all inside the opening five minutes.
Town continued to dominate possession, playing passes quickly and crisply. Harrison did superbly to take a raking Toto Nsiala pass on his thigh on the run, but keeper Marek Rodak managed to smother the ball in the 21st minute. Not long afterwards, the Blues had strong penalty appeals waved away when Jon Nolan tempted Semi Ajayi into dangling out a leg on the byline, while an acrobatic Edwards effort was well-blocked too.
The intensity dropped a little midway through the half, but Town continued to look the more dangerous side and the half ended with Jonas Knudsen’s angled effort saved (when perhaps a pull back was the better option).
It’s not often you force 12 corners away from home. Unfortunately, Town didn’t ever really look like scoring from one.
Grant Ward and Nolan were on deliveries but, in the main, they were too floaty. It was a reminder of a weapon the Blues have lost in selling Martyn Waghorn to Derby.
Shrewsbury produced some inventive set-pieces under Paul Hurst’s management last season. We saw one from Town this afternoon when a clever short corner routine didn’t quite come off. There is surely more to come on that score.
Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan – signed in a £2m double deal from Shrewsbury Town on Wednesday – both went straight into the starting XI.
Nsiala was a curate’s egg. At times you marvelled at his speed and strength. On other occasions your heart was in your mouth.
His raking pass for Harrison’s one-on-one chance was superb. An unconvincing shouldering of the ball back to the keeper, when he’d attempted a header, not so much.
Ultimately, he always seemed to find a way to rectify a mistake – be it his own or a team-mates. On one occasion he got Jonas Knudsen out of jail when sweeping around the back following the Dane’s slack pass.
It was, however, him who gave away the crucial late free-kick away.
Nolan was always on the move and produced some classy little pieces of control, one chest out of the sky worthy of particular note. His neat footwork in the box probably should have been rewarded with a penalty in the first half. And he went mightily close in the second half when fizzing a 25-yard effort just wide.
If there was one criticism it was that he didn’t get up in support of Harrison enough, with Town’s lone striker, for the second weekend running, looking a little isolated at times.
Kayden Jackson, who arrived in a £1.6m transfer from Accrington Stanley on Thursday, replaced Harrison in the 67th minute. There were glimpses of his electric pace as he kept alive seemingly lost causes and charged down defenders. He didn’t get hold of the ball when his one opening arrived.
There was a fourth debut too in the form of Jordan Roberts – Town’s first summer signing. The man who arrived on a free transfer from Crawley really should have been awarded a penalty when being hauled down by Joe Mattock in the box five minutes from time.
Welsh wing wizard
Gwion Edwards is already looking an absolute snip at £700k.
The summer signing from Peterborough is oozing confidence and again looked the Town player most likely to unlock the door.
His trademark move looks to be flicking the ball around or over his marker and racing beyond. The low crosses were dangerous. And his curling 25-yard free-kick effort midway through the second half forced Marek Rodak into a flying save.
Interestingly, he once again lined up on the right – where he did so much damage against Blackburn – with Grant Ward, back after suspension, on the left.
Edwards has said he likes to drift inside from the left onto his favoured right foot, something he did so often at Posh. Given Rotherham’s right side looked their big weakness in the 5-1 loss at Brentford last weekend, it was a surprise to see he didn’t get any real time over on that flank this afternoon.