Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 2-1 loss at Burton
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Ipswich Town's slow start to the season continued with a 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
TIME TO SWITCH ON
Town ended last season having conceded, on average, a goal a game over 52 matches - that's a decent record. They've started this campaign having leaked five in three.
All of them have felt wholly preventable and soft.
Just like against Morecambe and Newport, lapses in concentration and moments of hesitancy proved costly.
As in midweek, Town didn't react quick enough to a quickly taken deep free-kick. Kane Vincent-Young was caught high up the field and Luke Woolfenden was subsequently far too lacklustre in coming out to try and block Lucas Akins' cross. It left Joe Powell with space to control and finish.
Burton had a deserved 19th minute lead.
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Fast-forward to the end of the game and the Brewers' 86th minute winner.
Town, having scored a quickfire equaliser and weathered a first half storm, now had control of the match. They were looking the more likely to win it.
Then Lee Evans tried an ambitious switch and the ball was intercepted. Again, there was space in behind the advanced Vincent-Young to attack. Again, Woolfenden was slow to engage. This time, Matt Penney ran across the heels of Powell to concede a penalty.
Akins sent Vaclav Hladky the wrong way from the spot. Town were heading home empty handed and they only had themselves to blame.
PAYING THE PENALTY
This was a completely different game to the season-opener.
Town had dominated possession against a deep-sitting Morecambe side at Portman Road, trying to find ways to break them down.
Here, Burton were in their faces and forcing them on the back foot from the off. Ipswich dealt with it though, defending a series of long throws, and, despite some frantic play in their defensive third, limiting efforts on goal.
The Blues were only behind for less than four minutes. Tom O'Connor was forced to head past his own keeper, under pressure from the stooping Joe Pigott, following Lee Evans' deep free-kick delivery. Had Pigott celebrated, he might have been awarded his first goal for the club. I'd suggest poker might not be his game.
The home side's intensity dropped as the second half wore on and Town began to see more and more of the ball. Attacking an away terrace packed with around 1,700 vocal supporters thoroughly enjoying their first away day in almost 18 months, this was their game to win.
The turning point came in the 56th minute when Louie Barry was bundled to the ground by O'Connor in the box.
Scott Fraser scored nine out of nine spot-kicks for MK Dons last season. The stage looked set for him to break the hearts of a club he had two really good years at.
After a brief delay, a few side-steps and a little stutter, his shot lacked conviction and was kept out by the dive of Ben Garratt.
Had that gone in it would have been a different story. Town's penalty record since relegation to League One is now five scored out of 10.
SEARCH FOR RIGHT BLEND
Town's back four will soon look very different. Hayden Coulson, George Edmundson and the the soon-to-be signed Cameron Burgess all look likely starters when fit.
It's all too easy to pin everything on the defence right now though. It certainly shouldn't be overlooked just how important it is for Paul Cook to quickly find the right attacking blend.
Town struggled to get Conor Chaplin in the game when he played as the support striker to Pigott in game one. In this game, they struggled to make use of Barry playing as the advanced No.10. Indeed, the Aston Villa loanee was subbed in the 66th minute having only touched the ball nine times.
The Blues didn't really have two up front, but they didn't really have three in midfield either. Bridging the gap between midfield and attack looks key.
Fraser was signed with the reputation as being one of the best No.10s in the division. He's now played wide left and wide right and both times looked wasted out wide.
Cook has sourced the ingredients. Now he needs to find the right recipe.
The biggest positive to take from this game was the exciting cameo display of Kyle Edwards.
The former West Brom winger replaced Armando Dobra on the left in the 66th minute and produced several moments of class on debut.
Every first touch was crisp and positive. He took people on and delivered some dangerous crosses. And he almost scored a sensational goal when receiving a short throw on the left, checking inside and curling an outrageous effort towards the far top corner. Replays show Garratt produced a fine fingertip save to divert the ball onto the crossbar.
On this showing, Town have signed a serious talent.
INJURY TOWN FC
Cook revealed post-match that Chaplin, Wes Burns and Sone Aluko were all enforced absentees.
They have joined Toto Nsiala and James Norwood in suffering muscle injuries inside the opening week of the campaign.
Jon Nolan started the new season injured, Edmundson was signed with an injury, while Coulson is still recovering from Covid. Meanwhile, Burgess arrives having 'played through the pain' for Accrington recently.
We don't know when any of them will be available because Cook won't discuss what any of their injuries actually are (the majority are hamstrings by the sounds of things), let alone how long they'll be out for.
Every club has injuries. It just feels like Ipswich have had more than most for a prolonged period of time now.
The hope was that Town's revamped sports science and fitness department would change that.