Sunday Snap: Kenlock’s response, Dawkins shows a spark and shock at Moore’s sacking
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Andy Warren looks back at Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.
This was midfielder Jon Nolan’s best display in an Ipswich Town shirt.
Not just because of his superbly-taken headed goal, which saw the midfielder pick his spot from 12 yards out and find the corner. He ran away tapping his head before revealing after the game that he had never scored a headed goal before in his life.
But it was his all-round game which caught the eye in this one.
He has the best pass completion rate in the squad, at 80 per cent over the season, but upped that to 84 per cent in this game.
In recent weeks those passes have been in more dangerous areas of the pitch, helped by the fact Teddy Bishop and Alan Judge have helped ensure the Blues now play more football in opposition territory.
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Lambert said of Nolan after the game: “He’s a really clever footballer. I think he’s getting better and better with his understanding of the game.
“I said before that it can take some players a season to grasp what they’re involved in. Nolan of late has been excellent.” He really has.
Honourable mentions here go to Bishop, Judge and goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, who were all excellent on this occasion.
Under the radar
Prior to yesterday’s game, Simon Dawkins had played just 16 minutes for Ipswich Town and had been an unused substitute just three further times.
The former Derby man got another 20 minutes in his legs at The Hawthorns and had a positive impact on the contest at a time when the Blues were pushing for a winner.
During his appearances for Ipswich’s Under 23s since his arrival in January he has shown himself to be good on the ball and responsible in possession while also growing into games as they go on.
He did the same on this occasion, got himself in good positions and was harshly punished by the referee on two occasions when looking to win the ball back high up the pitch.
The 31-year-old, a popular figure within the squad, signed a deal until the end of the season upon his arrival and looks set to have the chance to prove his worth between now and the end of the campaign.
He has a Tottenham education, has been a top performer in the Championship in the past and has played under Lambert in the Premier League.
He’s become a bit of a forgotten figure since his arrival but could he be part of the rebuild in League One? It looks like he’ll have the chance to prove his worth.
A good response
Myles Kenlock is enjoying an extended run as an Ipswich Town starter, something he’s not been able to do for much of his time in the Blues’ first-team.
It’s an extended audition for the starting left-back spot for next season and it’s fair to say it’s been a mixed one so far.
He’s had good moments and some difficult ones, and it looked as if the latter was going to be true of this game when his horribly limp header landed between Jonas Knudsen and Luke Chambers and led to the concede of the free-kick which provided West Brom’s goal.
It would have been easy for Kenlock to fold in the wake of pressure from West Brom’s string of talented forwards, who swapped positions throughout, but the academy product stood tall.
The fact nominal left winger Alan Judge drifted all over the pitch meant Kenlock was often exposed, but he responded to his early error well and defended consistently during the rest of the game.
He’s out of contract in the summer but the Blues look certain to take up the 12-month option in his contract at the very least.
West Brom’s boiling point
According to IMDB there have been 79 super hero movies made since the first Superman film was released in 1978 and, just when you thought Hollywood might be running out of ideas, West Brom served up a treat.
‘Boiler Man’ has caused quite the stir in the world of football mascots, representing club sponsor Ideal Boilers, and is exactly what it says on the tin - a person dressed up as a boiler. It doesn’t even have a face.
It does have attitude though, and spent the hour before kick-off touring the stands, playing football with the mascots (including a few good headers) and then lined up with the two teams prior to kick-off.
He’s certainly not the first bizarre mascot in football, though – Leicester had Toppy the Tile as part of a sponsorship deal while ‘Mr Testicles’ did the rounds at various clubs in recent years in aid of Male Cancer Awareness Week. The list goes on.
Anyway, ‘Boiler Man’ will be released in the summer of 2020.
The Blues had 22 total shots in this game, of which seven were on target, with that overall number the most Ipswich have managed all season.
Town have had a total of 352 shots this season, averaging out at a little under 10 per game. They doubled that average on this occasion.
It may have only yielded one goal but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Former Norwich winger Jacob Murphy wears number 70 for West Brom. That’s just silly.
He wore the seven shirt at parent club Newcastle and opted to add a zero to that after completing his loan move in January.
I know it’s irrational and largely trivial, but this kind of behaviour winds me up.
It came as quite the shock when news came through that Darren Moore had been sacked as West Brom boss following this game.
This wasn’t a move that anyone saw coming, despite a tough run of results which has seen automatic promotion chances slip away, with journalists covering the Baggies all having gone home by the time the news broke at 7.19pm. It turns out, though, he was dismissed two hours earlier and then continued to conduct his media duties as normal.
All very strange.
On the face of it, firing a manager who has his team sitting fourth in their division is bizarre, but Ipswich fans know by now that it can be dangerous to judge a situation from the outside without knowing all the facts. The ‘Be Careful What Your Wish For’ movement will be out in force, especially if the Baggies don’t win promotion through the play-offs.
While Moore did an exceptional job in an ultimately losing battle against relegation from the Premier League last season, the head coach’s remit was clear this season; win promotion at all cost. Such is the nature of football finance now, the Hawthorn’s club can’t afford to stay outside of the top flight money pit for more than one season.
It remains to be seen if their change does the trick, but the contrast between West Brom and Ipswich’s current situations is fascinating.
Moore’s side were booed off and the head coach sacked with his side in fourth, while Lambert’s men continue to be applauded off week after week despite winning just twice in 22 games and sitting bottom of the table.
That’s testament to the job Lambert and his staff have done over the last four months, bringing the club back together again.
Pre-match Lambert asked for supporters to maintain the goodwill they have shown he and his team. A few more displays like yesterday’s will certainly help do that.