North Stander: I'm baffled by Cook's use of striker Pigott

Joe Pigott goes down in the penalty following pressure from Jordan Thorniley late in the game.

Joe Pigott goes down in the penalty area late against Oxford United. Town's penalty appeals were waved away - Credit: Steve Waller -

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt offers his latest thoughts on the Blues after their 0-0 draw with Oxford United...

Let’s be clear. While Oxford’s time wasting antics were very frustrating, and the awful referee played into their hands, they didn’t cost us two points. That was down to our own shortcomings.

Since the thrilling win at Wycombe, our levels have dropped, no doubt about it. We’ve only scored once in three games, if you discount a penalty shoot-out. Two goalless draws and a 1-1 make me think the McCarthy era is back!

Seriously, though, we weren’t great against Oxford. The visitors were certainly the better side in the first half, so why on earth they decided after an hour that a point was good enough I can’t work out.

Our passing was poor, Oxford shut Wes Burns out of the game, Kyle Edwards promised a lot but delivered very little, and Bersant Celina seemed to be on a different wavelength to the rest of his team-mates.

The positive from the game was our increasingly solid defence. It was good to see Janoi Donacien back, and George Edmundson has become an immense figure in our back four. A word of praise, too, for keeper Christian Walton. One superb save early on and generally very solid.

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 -

It was surprising, but very pleasing, to see local lad Bailey Clements make his debut at left-back. The former Northgate High School pupil did very well, especially going forward. One exciting run in the first half ended with Celina hitting the post.

It looks as though, at the moment, Clements is ahead of Matt Penney in the pecking order for the left-back spot. Whether Clements will stay in the team when Hayden Coulson is fit will depend on his performances. Paul Cook always says players will keep the shirt if they perform well. Good to have another “one of our own” to cheer on.

The draw was especially disappointing because three points would have seen us move very close to the play-off places. As it is, there is still a bit of a gap. We certainly need to see our displays back to the levels we were loving a couple of weeks ago.

Cook’s use - or rather, non-use - of Joe Pigott mystifies me. I know Macauley Bonne has been brilliant, but he is not going to win every game, and will no doubt suffer a goal drought. One might already have started.

Given that, I don’t understand why Cook brings Pigott on so late in games. He is a proven goalscorer, but expecting him to make a difference with two minutes left is asking rather too much.

Macauley Bonne holds his head after a Town attack petered out.

Macauley Bonne holds his head after a Town attack petered out. - Credit: Steve Waller -

Ok, let’s talk about Scott Oldham, the referee against Oxford. As the game wore on, he infuriated home supporters by continually stopping play when an Oxford player went to ground and rolled around on the turf.

It happened at least four times in the last 20 minutes, disrupting play just as Town looked like they were getting on top. It was a very negative and cynical tactic on behalf of the visitors, and the referee allowed them to get away with it.

None of them were head injuries, so why didn’t he just wave play on? Does anyone from the footballing authorities review his performance, because it certainly wasn’t good enough and meant home supporters left the game very angry. All I can recall of the last 20 minutes is a series of very irritating and unnecessary stoppages. No football!

Next up we have the unwanted trip to Oldham in the FA Cup. It looks pretty certain that Cook will ring the changes for that, with a demanding trip to Sunderland coming up just a few days later followed by high-flying Rotherham at Portman Road.

Having ended our struggles against top six sides by beating Wycombe, we reverted to type by failing to beat Oxford. A minimum of four points from the next two league games is essential to keep us in touch with the play-off places.

Finally, more words of praise for the very welcome changes our new owners are making around the ground. Along with the celebratory posters along the back of the Cobbold Stand, we now have similar on the back of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

Ed Schwartz next to Town CEO Mark Ashton.

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

The new owners appear to have a clear understanding of why our glorious history is so important. We don’t want to live in the past, or use our previous successes as a burden, but they do represent the reason we are proud of our status as a club.

Ok, we’re in the third division at the moment, but we remain a big club. How many League One clubs attract crowds of 21,000, for goodness sake!

So, well played to Gamechangers. They are a real breath of fresh air.

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