Stu says: Seven observations following Wimbledon win

Blue Smoke Army: Ipswich fans set off a flare after their team scores at AFC Wimbledon.

Ipswich Town fans enjoy their first ever experience of AFC Wimbledon's new Plough Lane home. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town won 2-0 at AFC Wimbledon last night to close the gap on the League One play-off places. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.

Wes Burns celebrates scoring during the second half at AFC Wimbledon

Wes Burns is now on eight goals for the season following his brace at AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


BURNS NIGHT!

How fitting that Wes was at the double on Burns Night.

It wasn't 'Auld Lang Syne' that was sung with gusto by the 1,200 away fans at Plough Lane though, rather an adaptation of some Joy Division.

'Burns... Burns will tear you apart again'.

That's four goals in his last four games. He's on eight for the season. Not bad for someone who's only started 17 matches due to injury niggles.

These latest two strikes were vintages of the Burns genre. Both times he raced onto passes down the inside right of the box and smashed the ball hard and low. The first squirmed under the keeper. The second couldn't be kept out on the line by a lunging defender.

The assists can't go unrecognised. James Norwood did well to shield the ball and slip a well-weighted forward pass for the opener. Macauley Bonne's deep crossfield pass for the clincher was sublime.

"The team's using him well," said boss Kieran McKenna afterwards, the Northern Irishman having left the field with a congratulatory arm around the match-winner.

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This right wing-back role certainly suits Burns to a tee.

ANOTHER BIG MOMENT

Just like against Accrington three days earlier, the Blues didn't have everything their own way. Once again though, they found a way to get the job done.

The first half was a forgettable affair. Town had the majority of the ball, but they struggled to create any clear cut chances. 

'Go on then, kick on,' you thought to yourself at half-time. Wimbledon looked there for the taking.

Yet it was the hosts who started the second period better. George Edmundson was forced into a desperate foul as Luke McCormick drove towards the heart of the box. The home fans found their voice. Ipswich, for a spell, wobbled against the Wombles.

Wes Burns celebrates scoring goal number two during the second half at AFC Wimbledon

Wes Burns celebrates scoring his second goal of the game with Conor Chaplin. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Against Accrington, the game's turning point was when Christian Walton tipped a shot onto the bar and Town scored within a minute to make it 1-1.

Here, there was a similar defining moment when Luke Woolfenden, stood on the line, threw a leg out to block Heneghan's stretching goalbound effort at a corner. Initially it looked like the ball came back off the inside of the post. Replays showed it actually clipped the trailing heel of diving keeper Walton.

It's moments like those that make you feel that the football Gods might just be on Town's side.

Both Luke Woolfenden and George Edmundson battle for the ball in the Wimbledon penalty area.

Luke Woolfenden and George Edmundson battle for the ball in the Wimbledon penalty area. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET

Burns takes the headlines, but the value of a third clean sheet in five games shouldn't be underestimated.

Walton raced off his line to make an important save at 1-0. The newly-signed keeper plucked several balls out of the sky with real confidence too.

Woolfenden, again, was excellent. He has returned to the side with newly-found rugged edge to go with those cool game-reading qualities.

Janoi Donacien, meanwhile, continues to quietly and effectively go about his business. This back three system is perfect for him. It's got to a stage where we take these sort of displays for granted.

All of the above meant that the previously imperious Edmundson could be afforded a slightly off day as he wore the armband.

Sam Morsy sits alone in the dugout at AFC Wimbledon, he has now been suspended for four games after

Ipswich Town skipper Sam Morsy sits alone in the dugout at AFC Wimbledon as he starts a four-game suspension. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

MISSING MORSY

Town discovered just a few hours before kick-off that influential skipper Sam Morsy had been handed a four-game ban for his off-the-ball clash with Accrington's Ethan Hamilton last weekend.

For me, it's two players in close quarters competing to make space. Both sets of hands are high. A push is reciprocated by a shove. The video footage is certainly far from conclusive. 

In no way does the punishment fit the crime. But Accrington made an almighty fuss and The FA doubled down on the charge.

Stanley chairman Andy Holt's 'sorry, not sorry' apology simply rubs salt in the wounds. Town fans won't be forgetting this saga in a hurry.

No doubt about it, Morsy's a big miss. Tyreeq Bakinson and Tom Carroll are both very tidy, technical passers of the ball, but the Blues lacked a bit of midfield grit and forward thrust at Plough Lane.

Coping without Morsy at Hillsborough on Saturday is a different prospect entirely.

Kayden Jackson closes down at AFC Wimbledon.

Kayden Jackson (right) made his first league start of the season in the 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


KAYDEN'S COMEBACK

McKenna once again changed his entire front three.

Macauley Bonne's run of 22 league starts came to an end. Conor Chaplin and Bersant Celina, fresh from a goal and assist respectively against Accrington, also dropped to the bench.

The sight of those three, as well as Kyle Edwards and Joe Pigott, all warming up in the second half was a reminder of just how good the attacking options are.

Surprisingly, Kayden Jackson made his first league start since a 3-0 loss at Northampton in April last year. He enthusiastically ran the left channel, flashed some low crosses through the box and played his part in the build-up to the opener.

Maybe his time at Portman Road isn't coming to an end after all? McKenna was full of praise post-match for the way the soon-to-be out of contract front man has been training.  

James Norwood had one of those days where he wasn't able to make the ball stick. Sone Aluko wasn't able to influence the game quite as much as he has done previously.

It'll be interesting to see which three get the nod next. 

Kane Vincent-Young closes down at AFC Wimbledon.

Kane Vincent-Young is suspended for Saturday's trip to Sheffield Wednesday following his red card at AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


KANE'S PAIN

Kane Vincent-Young was oh so close to completing his second full match in the space of four days. It would have been the first time he'd finished back-to-back league games since the very start of the campaign.

Sadly, he was shown in his marching orders in the 90th minute. The first booking was for time-wasting at a throw (he was given ample warning). The second was for an awkward trip.

The 25-year-old's stop-start season continues. He will now be suspended at the weekend.

Who will replace him on the left? McKenna says Matt Penney and the lesser-spotted Hayden Coulson are close to returning to fitness. Edwards is an option too.

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna applauds the travelling support at AFC Wimbledon after the 2-0 win.

Kieran McKenna is the first Ipswich Town manager of the post-war era to win four of his opening five games in charge. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


CHASE IN ON

McKenna is the first Blues boss in the post-war era to win four of their opening five games in charge. Several results elsewhere have also gone Town's way over recent days. Up to eighth, the gap to the play-off places has been cut to five points...

There is still a lot of work to do, but Town have given themselves a real chance of getting back in the promotion picture now. Some powerful momentum is threatening to build.

Saturday's trip to ninth-place Sheffield Wednesday (who have two games in hand) is big. After that it's bottom-two sides Gillingham (h) and Doncaster (a).

McKenna will keep the players' feet on the floor. The rest of us can dare to dream.