Sunday Snap: The Collins effect, a first for Bart and inflatable rankings
Andy Warren takes a look back at Ipswich Town’s 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
At one stage it looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for captain Luke Chambers.
The first 20 minutes saw the skipper given a difficult time by physical frontman Josh Magennis, but Chambers got to grips with the Northern Irishman and ended the game as the standout Town performer.
Defensively he was huge in the final 70 minutes, making four big blocks and four headed clearances – three of which came in a 30-second period where Bolton put pressure on the Town box.
Then there was his assist for the first Ipswich goal, rekindling memories of his time at right back as he delivered the ball from deep for Collin Quaner to head home. He certainly enjoyed it, judging by his celebration, as he flexed his muscles in the direction of the home crowd before joining his team-mates.
There was one big fist pump to the fans at full-time, just the fourth time he’s been able to do that this season. There will surely be many more next season.
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How different could Ipswich Town’s situation be had James Collins been available on a more regular basis?
This was just his fifth Ipswich appearance due to hamstring and calf problems, with two of those games (Rotherham and Bolton) resulting in wins.
There was ring rust of course, given he hadn’t completed 90 minutes since the end of January, but he also showed just why he has been such a consistent performer at higher levels than this.
His nine headed clearances and three blocks highlight his role in this game, while he spent much of his afternoon helping to organise the Ipswich back line.
If he can stay fit he would no doubt be a major asset in the third tier. He wants to keep playing so is there a deal to be done there?
This was Collin Quaner’s best day in an Ipswich shirt.
It was perhaps unfair to expect a player who has played so little football to come in and instantly score the goals to rescue a struggling side, but given the fact he was recruited from the Premier League that was certainly the hope when he signed from Huddersfield.
He went nine without a goal before tapping his first in Blue against Nottingham Forest, but these two goals were of much higher quality.
He did superbly to bend his body to head home Chambers’ cross before taking a touch, turning and firing the second in off the post.
His best football arguably still came when partnered with Will Keane during the early games of their Town tenure, when he was able to play quick lay-offs and link up with his partner, but this was much more like it from the German.
Paul Lambert was asked post-match for national journalists whether there was a chance of keeping Quaner. The Town boss laughed. He’s too expensive.
A first for Bart
Remarkably this was the first time Bartosz Bialkowski had been part of a winning team this season, at his 26th attempt.
It seems unthinkable for a player who has won the player of the year award in each of the last three seasons.
The Pole was an unused substitute in the victories over Swansea, Wigan and Rotherham but is now firmly back between the sticks.
His afternoon was a quiet one, generally, with his best save coming from Wanderers substitute Erhun Oztumer.
But he could perhaps of done more with the cross which led to the Bolton consolation, getting caught in traffic when coming to collect.
The goal robbed the Pole of a first clean-sheet of the campaign.
On the subject of that late consolation, given with the aid of goal-line technology…
The images show the ball was just millimetres over the line when Collins looked to hack it away.
Ultimately the right decision was made but the Blues were the width of a bootlace away from a perfect day.
Prior to kick-off the away end burst into life when, as is Ipswich tradition, all manner of inflatables were hurled into the air.
For many of the Ipswich side at Bolton, this would have been the first time they have witnessed such a sight from the Town fans, with the Blues’ players all looking over to their following. Some with confused faces, others in admiration having seen it all before.
There were your classics, of course. Beach balls; loads. Footballs; standard. Palm trees; check. Inflatable penis (x2); obviously.
But below are my top five rankings of the inflatable items on display.
4) Picture frame
Anyway…Lambert dedicated the win to the Ipswich supporters at the final whistle and rightly so, they have been superb wherever they have been and deserve to have witnessed more than the four victories the Blues have managed
The hope must be that they get their reward next season.
Yesterday’s victory extended the Blues’ unbeaten league run against Bolton to exactly 17 years.
The last defeat came exactly 17 years earlier on April 6, 2002 as George Burley’s men were effectively relegated from the top flight following a Fredi Bobic inspired 4-1 victory, with Ipswich unbeaten in the 12 games since.
The two teams will meet again next season, surely, with Wanderers eight points from safety.
What a week it’s been for Ipswich Town.
It started with questions over Lambert’s future before the questions then moved on to whether opponents Bolton Wanderers would still exist by the time yesterday’s game came around. Thankfully they were given further time to resolve their financial issues.
Then Lambert cleared up comments regarding his future before then signing star man Alan Judge up to a new two-year deal minutes before jumping on the bus for the north west.
Later on Friday the game was plunged into doubt once again due to IT issues, once the team had already departed Suffolk, but the week ended with three big points.
Sadly the next seven days could well see Ipswich’s relegation finally confirmed, but the past week shows just why there is so much optimism regarding the future.