A pleasure to watch, Bishop’s return and Nsiala in action - observations as Under 23s draw with Cardiff
- Credit: Archant
Andy Warren gives his observations from Ipswich Town Unders 23’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff City at Portman Road this afternoon.
Tale of the game
New first-team manager Paul Lambert was in attendance for this game, as was senior midfielder Cole Skuse, who both would have been impressed with what they saw.
The Ipswich Town Under 23s have been a pleasure to watch this season and, even though they couldn’t force a win in this fixture, showed just why they are leading the Professional Development League South table.
They line up in a flexible system similar to the one employed at first-team level (a flat back four, three central midfielders, two wide players and a central striker) and it’s packed with movement, ability on the ball and vision.
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These are young players who know each other’s games and fit together well as a result, all while having plenty of rough edges to smooth out. That’s the name of the game, after all.
They took the lead with a goal which summed up much of their play this season. Teddy Bishop, back on the field again after injury. brought Jack Lankester into play and allowed the new first-teamer to combine with Idris El Mizouni before crossing to force Ciaron Brown to turn into his own net.
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Two quick goals from Jack Bodenham and James Waite put the visitors into the lead before the break, before Shane McLoughlin won the ball back on the right in the second period, fed Kai Brown who hit the post, allowing Ben Folami to put the rebound into an empty net.
They were the more adventurous side for much of the second period, although Cardiff did rattle Harry Wright’s post before the goalkeeper was forced into a good save in the closing minutes, but the hosts couldn’t force a winner.
Ipswich Town: Wright, Cotter, Smith, Nsiala, Clements (Ndaba 81); McLoughlin, Bishop (McGavin 46), El Mizouni; Lankester, Folami, Brown.
Not used: Egan, Marshall, Ndaba, Dobra
Any chance to see either Bishop or Emyr Huws on a football pitch is a positive one, with both men surely able to offer a new dimension to the Ipswich midfield if they are able to get and then stay fit.
Bishop got his chance today on his latest return to action following hamstring trouble, playing the first half before being withdrawn as per the pre-match plan.
He was neat and tidy during his 45 minutes on the pitch, taking up a deeper midfield role and looking to bring his young colleagues into play at every opportunity.
He was involved in the first goal of the game as he picked up possession and drove wide before bringing Lankester and El Mizouni into play, while he also put his body into a string of midfield tackles.
He has plenty more gears to find but this was a positive step. Hopefully it’s not another false dawn.
A lot has changed since Barry Cotter’s Ipswich Town debut on April 10.
The young Irishman was the star of the show in that 1-0 victory over Barnsley (which is sadly the last time Ipswich won at Portman Road) before Mick McCarthy overshadowed his display with his dramatic resignation.
We’ve seen little of Cotter in that time, with the Irishman suffering with Achilles trouble and falling out of favour with former boss Paul Hurst. He was even left out of the U23 side ‘on form’ according to Hurst.
But he was back in the side today and approached the game in the same way he did his senior bow.
He looked to charge forward at every opportunity, attempted cross-field passes, tried elaborate step-overs and linked well with the young Ipswich forwards. His partnership with right-sided colleague Lankester in particular was a source of offence from the young Blues.
Sure he has rough edges and can tend to get a little over-excited in possession, but, as Luke Chambers said at the end of last week, it would ‘be good to see more of Barry’.
Toto has work to do
The big central defender has not played since Paul Hurst’s departure and he appears to have work to do if he is to force his way into Lambert’s plan.
That work began in the Under 23s this afternoon, where he was by far the most experienced player on the pitch.
On the face of things he’s perhaps more suited to the rugged style of play in the Championship and the leagues below, rather than the quiet, patient, technical environment age group football brings.
But he defended well while having a physical edge over the Cardiff forward line, but was at times caught out by the quick-thinking young visitors. He also, it must be said, saw the ball fly over his head as Ipswich conceded from a set-piece for Cardiff’s opener.
It remains to be seen if and when he is able to force his way into the first team picture, but the partnership of Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington are almost certain to start again at Reading at weekend.
Other notable displays
Jack Lankester has grabbed his chance and many of the headlines in the Under 23s this season and he was dangerous once again.
His performances at youth level have earned him two first-team appearances and he was also on the bench for Lambert’s first game, with his standards high again this afternoon.
But there were others who caught the eye.
Kai Brown, a signing from Grays at the start of the year, is worth particular mention as he led the line at the age of just 17.
He’s physical for his age, can hold it up, has a great touch, the vision to bring wide players into play and also possesses the ability to run in behind. He filled a centre forward role usually taken by Jordan Roberts in the 23s of late, who impressed in the position in the first team on Saturday.
Ben Folami is back from international duty with Australia and played wide on the left, where he showed neat touches without truly being able to stamp his mark on the game due to the fact so much of the Ipswich play came down the right. He did get his name on the scoresheet, though, as he put the rebound into an empty net after Brown had hit the post.
Shane McLoughlin and Idris El Mizouni are both gifted footballers who can pick a pass and quickly move into space to try and get it back, with both men good examples of why this Under 23 side is such a positive one to play in.