North Stander: Goals are the issue, so let's see Simpson and Pigott

Macauley Bonne heads wide from point blank range at Morecambe.

Ipswich Town's Macauley Bonne heads wide from point blank range at Morecambe. Bonne's goal drought continues - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Journalist and Ipswich Town fan Terry Hunt offers his thoughts on the Blues and their play-off hopes after the 1-1 draw at Morecambe...

Trust the process. It’s Kieran McKenna’s mantra, and is precisely what we Ipswich supporters need to do. Be patient, in other words.

It will not be a constant upward curve. There will be bumps in the road and frustrations. Just like the last two results, and performances, when we have failed to beat two very poor sides, despite utterly dominating possession.

The much more important aspect is that we see progress, and the difference McKenna has already made is crystal clear. The contrast between this team and Paul Cook’s shambolic outfit is like night and day. And they are the same players!

We are much more organised, solid, and tough to beat. Players know their jobs, understand their roles in the team, and eight of them are pretty much guaranteed to start every game.

Macauley Bonne holds his head in disbelief after heading wide from point blank range at Morecambe.

Macauley Bonne rues a missed chance in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Morecambe. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

The obvious problem lies with the misfiring strikers. None of them can hit a barn door from six paces at the moment. Macauley Bonne is the saddest example. Contrast the rampaging, confident striker of early season with the frustrated figure we’re watching now.

If nothing improves for him between now and the end of the season, I suspect he will be heading back to QPR. What a shame. It looked like a footballing fairytale at one point.

I asked a question on social media about Tyreece Simpson’s lack of involvement in the first team squad. The responses varied between him not signing a contract, and not being good enough.

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Well, if McKenna thinks the lad isn’t up to the task, fair enough, but I wouldn’t understand if his absence is down to the contract issue. We desperately need goals at the moment, and surely he can’t do any worse than our other strikers!

The big debate is whether McKenna is right in juggling his front three every game, trying to find the right combination, or whether he should stick to a plan in the hope that the goals will come eventually.

Joe Pigott is the classic example here. The lad desperately needs a goal. When he gets a rare start, he looks like a decent target man, and hold-up player, but he’s clearly very short of confidence, especially in front of goal.

And yet, as we all know, he scored 20 goals for a pretty poor Wimbledon team last season. Maybe it’s one of those cases of it just not working out for a particular player at a particular club. Perhaps he’ll move on and score loads of goals for someone else.

I suspect McKenna is already thinking that a couple of new strikers will be top of his shopping list during the summer.

Kieran McKenna at Morecambe.

Ipswich Town have claimed 24 points from 12 games since Kieran McKenna took charge. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Talking of the summer, which division will we be preparing for? After the draw at Morecambe, there were plenty of Town fans who had given up on this season, saying the play-offs are too far away now.

I’m not quite in that camp yet. I agree it looks really, really tough, given we have some difficult games, and especially at a time when our goals have virtually dried up.

But surely we can’t throw in the towel while we’re only five points away with 11 games to go, can we? While there’s life, there’s hope, surely?

If, and when, the play-off dream does ultimately die, then we all know where to point the finger. Just look at that dreadful start we made under Paul Cook. We’ve been playing catch-up ever since.

It means that the margin for error is so tiny, and becoming tinier all the time. Under different circumstances, a point at Morecambe would have been fine. As it stands, it’s not good enough, and we lose ground.

When Paul Cook was sacked, I was one of those who didn’t agree with the decision. I felt he should have been given more time, and I didn’t want our club to be one of those which changes managers as often as some people change their socks.

But I’m very pleased to admit that I was wrong, and Mark Ashton and the club owners were spot-on. Our young, modern, analytical manager is extraordinarily impressive.

Wes Burns is disappointed with himself at Morecambe during the first half.

Wes Burns is disappointed with himself at Morecambe during the first half. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

If Kieran McKenna makes a success of the job here - as I’m sure he will - then I believe he will go a long, long way in the game.

We gave two of the greatest managers their chance. Will we make it a hat-trick? There’s a long way to go, and a lot of work to do, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.