Sunday Snap: A streak ends, a fresh look and two missing pieces
- Credit: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town beat Blackpool 2-0 yesterday. Andy Warren takes a look at some of the events surrounding the game at Portman Road.
Snapping a streak
Town were in the midst of a miserable streak heading into this game.
They ended a run of three successive home losses, with victory over Blackpool set in motion by Alan Judge’s superb striker just before half-time, but that wasn’t the streak I’m talking about.
Had Town still been level at the interval it doesn’t take a wild imagination to envisage a world where the Blues struggle to break their hosts down during the second 45 minutes and have to settle for a point.
The streak I’m talking about is the fact Town hadn’t led at half-time for an incredible 20 games prior to Judge’s strike. That dates back, with wonderful symmetry, to the 4-1 win at Blackpool back in October, when Town led 3-0 at the break. Worryingly they had scored just four first-half goals in that time.
But the streak is over, may the good times roll.
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Was this Judge’s best performance for Ipswich Town?
I’d argue it was, with the Irishman playing in his favoured central role, still having the freedom to roam and reminding us just why there was such excitement when he committed to Ipswich following their drop into League One in 2019.
He had good moments deep, some wide and others in advanced roles, with his strike before the break the kind of goal we had seen him score for Brentford, Notts County and Plymouth over the years. It’s what we were expecting from Judge on a semi-regular basis.
He could maybe have had a second, too, when he cut inside onto Luke Matheson’s raking pass before firing the ball into the side-netting. It was a shot hit with so much venom it forced a break in play while the net was reattached to its post.
He could maybe have taken an extra touch and picked his spot, or find a team-mate, but it was good to see the international playing on instinct.
Judge will be one of the first to admit he’s not always hit the heights expected of him at Portman Road, but it’s no coincidence that his best displays come when playing in his favoured position.
More of this please, Alan.
It’s difficult to believe Luke Matheson is just 18-years-old.
The Wolves loanee speaks like a true pro, handling questions about his Norwich City fandom in a textbook fashion on Friday. He’s a journalist’s dream and has a character supporters surely find impossible not to get behind.
He started well on the pitch, too, putting in a calm and assured display in which he did very little wrong and looked in control defensively, while growing into the contest as an attacker as the minutes ticked by.
It’s just a shame there were no fans in the stadium to witness it, not least because the pandemic surely robbed us of a rendition of ‘Luke Matheson is a blue, is a blue, is a blue – Luke Matheson is a blue, he hates Norwich’.
He’s got a song of his own to sing this week when he belts out Wonderwall by Oasis during his initiation for his first away game with the club. All the evidence suggests he’ll nail that as well.
Another rob job
On the subject of absent supporters, nothing hammered home just how much is lacking from a matchday than the sight of referee John Busby pulling up with a hamstring injury in the final minutes and needing to be replaced.
Oh how we long for the sound of laughter from all four sides of a packed football ground.
Good hair day
Regular readers of this column will know that Luke Woolfenden’s ever-changing hairstyle is a regular feature.
Well, we have a new chapter written. Gone are the blond locks, gone is the Alice band. They’ve been traded in for tighter cut and, crucially, a goal to secure three points.
The academy product hasn’t been at his best this season – he's set high standards – but this was a good display. An on-song Luke Woolfenden will be a real asset to Town between now and the end of the season.
Either my ears were deceiving me or Ipswich goalkeeper Tomas Holy yelled out ‘Chambo, left shoulder’ at the start of the second half as he looked to shape the Town defence to deal with a Blackpool attack.
The skipper was sitting on the bench (the ‘bench’ is the lower tier of the Co-op Stand these days) of course after being dropped from the side, having sat on the bench for a league game just three times previously during his eight-and-a-half years in Suffolk.
Chambers could still be heard barking out from the stands despite not being involved in this game. He’s sure to be needed in the coming weeks given the Blues’ hectic schedule.