Winners and losers: The Town fan, the missing man and an off day

Sam Morsy speaks with Bersant Celina after he had hit the post with a shot.

Sam Morsy speaks with Bersant Celina after he had hit the post with a shot. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town drew 0-0 with Oxford United on Saturday. Andy Warren looks at a few winners and losers from the weekend's action.

WINNERS 

The Ipswich Town fan 

Bailey Clements used to be an Ipswich Town season ticket holder, dreaming of playing in front of a big crowd at Portman Road. 

He’s now achieved that dream. 

The former Northgate pupil was a surprise starter in this game, making his league debut for his club in front of a crowd of more than 21,000 people.  

He’s played at Portman Road plenty of times before, in the Under 18s, then the Under 23s and in two cup games for the first team earlier this season. Those games, though, against Newport and Colchester, combined for an attendance of a little over 14,000, meaning this game with Oxford was a whole new ballgame. 

Bailey Clements applauds fans after the 0-0 draw against Oxford United.

Bailey Clements applauds fans after the 0-0 draw against Oxford United. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Most Read

He wasn’t overawed, though. Far from it. For much of this match he was Ipswich’s best player. 

Defensively he was able to comfortably deal with Mark Sykes, one of the visitors’ biggest threats, for much of the game and he managed to get forward regularly, too. 

He ticks most of the boxes Paul Cook wants when it comes to full-backs. 

The shirt is his right now and you have to assume he will start at Oldham in the Blues’ FA Cup replay tomorrow night.

Another good performance there and it will be hard for one of his more senior team-mates to come in and take the position from him. 

Town’s academy 

As well as clearly being a boost for him personally, Clements moving to the head of the queue at left-back is a good sign for the Ipswich academy. 

Town’s heavy summer recruitment made you wonder what the pathway would be for the Blues’ best youngsters, with the likes of Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Jack Lankester moved on and Myles Kenlock excluded from the League One squad. Luke Woolfenden was the only graduate of the Playford Road system named in that squad. 

Cook has played youngsters during pre-season and has given a handful some minutes in cup competitions, but the fact Clements has made it into a League One team will show everyone in Town’s Under 23s that it can be done. Seeing that pathway existing is so important at any club. 

Idris El Mizouni is another case. The young midfielder has forced his way into Cook’s thinking, earning a new contract in the process. 

The numbers may be smaller and opportunities fewer than we’re used to when it comes to the academy, but opportunities do exist. That’s good news. 

George Edmundson and Bailey Clements pictured after the game.

George Edmundson and Bailey Clements pictured after the game. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

The backline 

Town didn’t keep a clean sheet in any of their first eight matches this season, conceding 14 goals in the process. 

In their last eight, they’ve conceded half that number and have kept clean sheets in each of their last two. Sure, two of those games were against League Two sides in cups, but you get the point. 

Things are getting better and are lot of that, you could argue, is down to the presence of George Edmundson. 

He’s as solid as can be at the back right now, winning physical battles and also showing good technical ability, too. 

‘The Fridge’, as he’s known, was Town’s best player this weekend and helped a solid defence shut Oxford out. 

Christian Walton was as solid as can be between the sticks, Janoi Donacien grew into the match as it went on and Toto Nsiala recovered from a few shaky moments with some other outstanding ones. And we’ve already discussed Clements. 

The signs are good. 

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson is showing the yellow card by referee Scott Oldham after arguing

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson is showing the yellow card by referee Scott Oldham after arguing with the fourth official. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

LOSERS 

The treatment room 

The Oxford medical team were busy in this one. 

Constant stoppages made the second half, in particular the final 20 minutes or so, a stop-start affair, as Oxford players hit the deck with knocks and regularly required treatment before the game restarted with a drop ball. 

Either the Oxford treatment room is going to be a little busy later this morning, or the visitors were happy to play out time and leave Suffolk with a point.  

Missing man 

When Clements was named on the team-sheet, the immediate assumption was that Matt Penney was injured. 

Paul Cook, though, speaking after the game, revealed that was not the case. 

“Matt's just feeling it a little bit having played a lot of games quickly,” the Town boss said. “The reality is when you have squads you have to give lads an opportunity. You've got to earn the right to play. That's what big clubs do. If you get at a shirt at our club you've got to retain it with your performances on the pitch.  

“Matt is no different to anyone else. He'll be back involved, he'll be back in the team, because when you fall off a horse the most important thing is you get back on it and you ride it again." 

Penney had a very poor afternoon at Plymouth in his last outing and hasn’t been seen since. But it was still a surprise to see him left out at a time when Hayden Coulson is also out injured. 

The performance of Clements will represent another real barrier for the former Sheffield Wednesday man, as he bids to work his way back into favour. 

Toto Nsiala in action.

Toto Nsiala in action. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

An off day 

We’ve been so used to seeing winger Wes Burns tearing at opposition defences this season. Along with Macauley Bonne, he’s been the most consistent and effective of Ipswich Town’s attacking weapons. 

But it didn’t happen for him in this one. 

He’s at his best when he can size up a left-back, with space in behind, and run at his man, using his pace and power to get past. Those opportunities didn’t come and his touch wasn’t as good as it has been this season. 

He’s shown his quality this season, so this is surely only a blip. He’ll be back. 

Ed Schwartz next to Town CEO Mark Ashton.

Ed Schwartz next to Town CEO Mark Ashton. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

The money man

Ed Schwartz may return to the United States feeling a little short-changed.

The Town co-owner was visiting Portman Road for the first time and, having watched back home as Brett Johnson witnessed the dramatic victory over Fleetwood, has attended two games in Suffolk and has not seen any goals, taking in the 0-0 draws with Colchester and now Oxford. He did see a successful penalty shootout, though.

It's far from a fruitless trip, though. Schwartz, one of the men managing the pension fund which bankrolls Ipswich Town these days, was on the panel of an extremely successful fans' forum on Monday night and held countless meetings with club staff.

He, along with his partners, will be back for the game with Sunderland next month, when Town are hoping for a 28.000-plus crowd.

Hopefully Ipswich can deliver a few goals for him then.


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter