Garner is enjoying the best Championship season of his career
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Joe Garner’s headed goal at Craven Cottage means the Ipswich striker’s impressive start to life at Portman Road is also the most-profitable second-tier season of his career.
The former Rangers and Preston striker put his head in where it hurts to turn in Martyn Waghorn’s whipped free-kick just before half-time against Fulham, in a game the Blues ultimately lost 4-1, with his eighth goal of the season the embodiment of the striker’s time at Portman Road to date.
He’s physical, brave, committed, doesn’t know when he’s beaten and puts his body on the line each and every time he crosses the white line.
Yes, he has his limitations, but he has a style which makes it easy to appreciate his efforts.
He may not be the type of striker to create goals for himself out of nothing and lacks the pace to burn away from the division’s quicker defenders, but Garner scores those scrappy goals that the Blues have missed in recent years.
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His move to Portman Road from Rangers in the summer has given him a shot at England’s second tier with a fifth-different club, having previously struggled to make a major scoring impact.
Having scored 45 goals in two League One seasons at Preston, with 26 to fire his boyhood club to promotion in 2015, Garner managed just six in 43 second tier games for the Deepdale side before moving to Scotland, while his 24 Championship games for Watford between 2011-13 garnered just a single goal.
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His best Championship season prior to this one came in 2008-09 while at Nottingham Forest, where he scored seven in 28 games, but it’s taken him nearly a decade to beat that mark. He also netted six in 18 appearances for Scunthorpe in 2011 during a loan spell.
His time at Portman Road started with a bang as he scored the winner against Birmingham on his debut, but it’s not just in front of goal where his play has proved important.
Defensively, he’s a beacon at corners as he out-jumps his 5ft 10in frame to head clear time and again, while his ability to bring players into the game with his head during open play is also excellent.
But it is goals where he will be truly judged, with the 29-year-old surely expecting to make it well into double figures before the season is out.
He will certainly need to add to his tally if his debut Ipswich season is to be deemed a true success.