Sunday Snap: The Chalobah Experience, Bart’s return and Kenlock’s chance to impress
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Andy Warren takes a look back at the events and talking points surrounding Ipswich Town’s 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa.
It’s important to remember that this is Trevoh Chalobah’s first full season of adult football and, as a result, the last 29 games have been a major learning curve for the teenager.
This display was a good example of his growth as a footballer over the course of his time at Portman Road.
This was arguably the Chelsea loanee’s most complete display as an Ipswich player, in which he took on added responsibility in the middle of midfield.
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He was calm and composed on the ball, strong in the tackle and had drive in his legs as he looked to get forward and link the Ipswich midfield and attack.
His season has been characterised by ups and downs, with bright and sloppy moments in equal measure, but the lapses in concentration have been fewer of late.
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He was, though, guilty of giving away a clumsy free-kick which led to the first Villa goal but was later unlucky to see his glanced header bounce back off the post.
‘The Chalobah Experience’ is a term I’ve used to describe the midfielder’s up-and-down displays so far this season but that ‘experience’ seems to be doing him good.
Under the radar
The heading to this section accurately describes Myles Kenlock’s Ipswich Town career.
He’s struggled for regular minutes under three successive managers.
The 22-year-old was in-and-out under Mick McCarthy and clearly behind Jonas Knudsen in the pecking order despite never letting his former boss down.
He played just six minutes under Paul Hurst before taking two months to make it onto the field under Paul Lambert and then losing his place to Callum Elder on the back of two good performances.
But he was back in the side for this game and put in another good performance.
He was left exposed for much of the game, given Alan Judge’s preference to drift inside off the left flank, but stood his ground well. He linked well with the Irishman, though and got forward effectively to help out in attack.
You would expect he has done enough to keep his place for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday next weekend at what is a vital point in the left-back’s career.
He’s out of contract in the summer, with Ipswich holding an option to extend his deal. Kenlock may just have the perfect chance to showcase his ability and earn a new contract.
Could have done more
It was a busy return to the starting line-up for goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
It was a game packed with ups and downs, too.
He could perhaps have been more dominant and come to punch the free-kick which led to Tammy Abraham’s first goal and there were a succession of shots spilt back into the penalty area which he would have been grateful to be able to pounce on or see cleared by defenders.
There were reminders of just how good the goalkeeper can be, too, with a late save to deny Abraham his hat-trick the pick of the bunch.
The Pole has been worth his weight in gold for three years now before a dip in his high standards this season but, if he can return to his consistent best, Ipswich may just have half a chance of digging themselves out of trouble.
The first goal is always crucial in games, but when you have conceded two goals in all but one of your Championship away games this season and haven’t scored on the road since the start of November, they are even bigger.
For Ipswich to concede after just six minutes, from a set-piece once again no less, was a disaster for the Blues.
It was particularly disappointing given Villa have been on a poor run of late and you could feel the tension in the air inside Villa Park before Abraham scored the second.
Had the Blues made it to the hour mark scoreless, like they did at Blackburn a week ago, you would have felt there was something there for them.
Sadly, though, once they were behind it was difficult to see a way back. The tone was set.
The late rally was a positive finish but the bottom line it was once again a pointless afternoon.
One you may have missed
For the third time this season, Paul Lambert was back at one of his former clubs.
He was in charge at Villa for three years between 2012 and 2015 but, like the visits to Stoke and Blackburn before this, he left pointless. The fourth and final encounter with a former club comes at Carrow Road in two weeks’ time.
The biggest reaction he got from the home crowd was when he failed with an attempt to control the ball and flick it up after it went out of play, with the section of the Villa Park support behind the bench letting out an audible chuckle. He did manage to superbly catch a ball a few minutes later, though with an effort his goalkeepers would have been proud of.
He made his frustrations at a string of poor refereeing decisions clear in his post-match press conference and then sought out a chat with referee Stroud as he headed back through the mixed zone.
That would have been an interesting one to be a fly on the wall for.
Ipswich have now conceded 50 league goals this season – one of only seven teams in the top four divisions of English football to do so.
Of those teams only Premier League Fulham have scored less than the 23 Town have managed, with the Cottagers’ 21 coming in six less games.
A bad combination.
Referee Stroud stopped play during the second half after Glenn Whelan had taken a blow to the head while defending a good ball into the box. No problem with that, safety is vital on the football pitch – especially when it comes to head injuries.
What happened next does need to be looked at, though.
When play was stopped, Alan Judge was shaping to deliver a dangerous cross into the penalty area at a time when the Blues were chasing the game. When play resumed, the drop ball was uncontested and pumped back to Bialkowski more than 70 yards away.
That robbed Ipswich of any attacking momentum.
Surely a contested drop ball would be the fair outcome here?
It’s hard to argue Lambert’s view that refereeing decisions had an impact on this game.
But calls going the wrong way are not the reason the Blues find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Championship table.
If you keep giving the opposition a two-goal start, whatever the manner of the goals conceded, you aren’t going to win many games. You certainly won’t if you score, on average, less than a goal a game like the Blues do.
The late rally ensured this game ended with a bit of positive feeling but, for long spells of it, the Blues were certainly second best.