Andy’s Angles: Wright the star as Keane makes Ipswich Town return alongside Nolan in Under 23 loss
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town’s Under 23s lost 1-0 to Leeds this afternoon. Andy Warren looks at the talking points coming out of the game.
Tale of the game
Ipswich Town's Under 23s began their home season with a 1-0 loss against strong Leeds United side at Playford Road.
In what was largely an even contest, Ryan Edmondson headed home the only goal of the game 10 minutes into the second half as he met Kun Temenuzhkov's cross.
The Blues had a golden chance to equalise 20 minutes later when Kai Brown was brought down in the box, with the forward taking it himself but seeing his effort saved by Kamil Miazek.
The game offered Will Keane an opportunity to get some minutes in his legs as he took to the field for the first time since his return earlier this week, with the striker playing the first half before being replaced.
Jon Nolan was involved, too, as he continues his own bid for fitness and operated behind the striker in the No.10 position.
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But while much of the 300-strong crowd had eyes on the two returning senior players, a pair of Under 23 regulars impressed most.
Armando Dobra, who scored on his senior debut at Luton recently, showed neat touches and a drive for goal throughout the contest while Harry Wright kept the score at 0-0 with a string of superb saves before the half-time whistle went.
He continued his fine form in the second as he reacted superbly to push Edmondson's close-range effort onto the bar.
Ipswich pressed late on but couldn't find a way through.
Returning striker Keane believes he's not too far away from being ready for the Ipswich Town first team, with his display in this game an important first step.
He's not played a minute of football since aggravating a hamstring injury in Town's penultimate game of last season, away at Sheffield United, with that problem ultimately requiring surgery.
The 26-year-old underwent three months of rehab alone over the summer after his release from Hull but is now back in blue and ready to go.
He played 45 minutes of this game as a lone striker and had some bright moments, particular as he used his first touch to bring the ball down and others into the game. He had one headed effort wide but this was all about regaining fitness.
Keane's said he 'needs a couple' of Under 23 games to be ready to go in the first-team, with the EFL Trophy opener against Tottenham Under 21s on September 3 a possible target.
Nolan's return to action gives Paul Lambert another option in midfield. There will come a point where he struggles to make a decision, given the quality he possesses in the centre of the pitch.
Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes have been ever-presents in the league this season with Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell other options around them. Then there's Alan Judge, who prefers an advanced central midfield berth but has been restricted to wing duty.
Lambert still has Teddy Bishop to come back into the mix, too.
Nolan's return is a welcome one given his form towards the end of last season as he found his feet following a difficult start, after his move from Shrewsbury.
He played 45 minutes at Hull last Friday in his first game since his season was ended by a calf injury in April and he stepped things up here with a full 90 minutes.
As we have been told so many times there's little to read into senior players' performances in this setting, but Nolan looked fresh and sharp as he moved the ball around the field and got forward to support Keane from the No.10 position.
He had the best chance to equalise but headed wide deep into stoppage time.
That Tottenham game could be a target for him, too.
Corrie Ndaba was within touching distance of an Ipswich Town debut towards the end of last season but has fallen out of the picture completely.
Indeed, he's yet to make the bench this season, despite being involved during the summer friendlies and showing why he is highly rated.
Lambert says he was less than impressed with the young Irishman's performances in the Under 23s towards the end of last season, but it's in this setting and on the training field that he must push his case for regular involvement.
The young Blues' skipper, who had an unfortunate bump in his Mercedes on the way to Tuesday night's first team game with Wimbledon, was vocal and strong throughout this game, but he will need to produce consistently to force Lambert's hand.
The same must be said of Barry Cotter, who has not been involved in the first-team since Lambert's appointment. On-field disciplinary issues at the end of last season have not helped the Irishman's case but it's clear he has ability, although he wasn't at his best in this game
Ndaba and Cotter had plenty to say to each other when the inquisition began into Edmondson's goal.
Trio of trialists
The young Blues included a trio of trialists in their side for this game.
Portuguese midfielder Quevin Castro, a former Sporting Lisbon academy youngster who most recently played for Thetford Town, has been working with the club for several weeks and looks set to be offered a contract.
Central defender Tom Leighton, 19, is a Northern Ireland youth international, recently released by Watford, while Luke Spokes is a midfielder attached to non-league side Yate Town who has previously been on trial at Burnley.
Castro was perhaps the pick of them, using the ball in midfield well, but Leighton plays with a calmness at the back and is useful on the ball.
It remains to be seen whether Leighton and Spokes can earn extended stays.
Ipswich Town U23s: Wright; Cotter, Leighton, Ndaba, Clements; Spokes (Scott 57), Castro (Crowe 84); Brown, Nolan, Dobra; Keane (Simpson, 46)