Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 2-0 win at Gillingham

Myles Kenlock back in the starting eleven at Gillingham

Myles Kenlock was back in the Ipswich Town team at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town won 2-0 at Gillingham in the Papa John's Trophy last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.

Joe Pigott with a smart first time finish to give Ipswich the lead during the first half at Gillingh

Joe Pigott with a smart first time finish to give Ipswich the lead during the first half at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

AUDITION FOR SATURDAY

Bersant Celina being away on international duty means the players went into last night's game knowing a forward place was up for grabs.


So who will replace the Kosovan for the League One visit of Shrewsbury on Saturday?

Before kick-off, the general consensus would probably have been that Kyle Edwards - who produced some electric wing displays earlier in the season - would be first in line.

Now, Conor Chaplin and Joe Pigott might just have given Paul Cook food for thought.

Kyle Edwards tries to cut out a clearance at Priestfield.

Kyle Edwards tries to cut out a clearance at Priestfield. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Edwards did okay on his comeback from injury - he arguably should have been awarded a penalty following a fine piece of ball control tight to the byline, while there was the odd dash up the left - but, overall, he was a little rusty.

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Pigott, recovered from a recent virus, worked hard up top. He battled in the box and was constantly on the move. Three times in the first half he fired over, while he also saw an effort blocked. Like all good strikers, the 27-year-old remained undeterred and he got his reward just before the break when he emphatically smashed high into the net at the far post.

Chaplin, playing as the No.10, also had a good night. Not only did he produce some neat link-up play, but he also got on the end of some chances himself. His own reward came in the 72nd minute when he raced onto Pigott's well-flighted deep pass, beat a high offside trap, and coolly finished one-on-one.

A happy Conor Chaplin gives a thumbs up to fans after the game at Gillingham

A happy Conor Chaplin gives a thumbs up to fans after the game at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

IN FROM THE COLD

It was a real surprise to see Myles Kenlock in the starting XI.

The 24-year-old was told he could find a new club at the end of last season, but a move never materialised and he was left very much in the cold.

New signings Hayden Coulson and Matt Penney were ahead of himself in the league pecking order. Younger duo Bailey Clements and Albie Armin got game time ahead of him in the cup games against Newport and West Ham U21s. He wasn't even getting picked for the Under-23s.

Myles Kenlock walks the pitch after arriving with his team-mates at Priestfield.

Myles Kenlock walks the pitch after arriving with his team-mates at Priestfield. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Cook explained afterwards that bringing the left-back in for this game was reward for him knuckling down and not causing any problems.

And he produced a decent display for someone who has played so little football over recent months.

Maybe it was just a reminder to other clubs that a player with 85 appearances across the Championship and League One is still available?

Cook says Kenlock (who wore the No.40 shirt) will now be 'welcomed back into the squad', but that's going to be difficult seeing as he wasn't included in the 22-man senior squad registered for league games. 

The only competitive games he can play between now and the New Year will be in the Papa John's Trophy and FA Cup.

Idris El Mizouni is held by the hand by Gillingham's Olly Lee at Priestfield.

Idris El Mizouni is held by the hand by Gillingham's Olly Lee at Priestfield. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

EYE-CATCHING IDDY

Town's most impressive player was their least experienced one.

Idris El Mizouni produced a central midfield display that had a bit of everything - tracking back, tackles, composure on the ball and some forward drive. 

The young Tunisian international has, by all accounts, been catching the eye in training since returning from a season of loan spells (Cambridge United and Grimsby). He looked good in the Carabao Cup game against Newport back in August and did well as a starter against Sheffield Wednesday recently too.

With Tom Carroll and Jon Nolan both currently injured, and Rekeem Harper having been repurposed as a No.10, El Mizouni suddenly finds himself breathing down the necks of Sam Morsy and Lee Evans.


Smiling Tomas Holy applauds the travelling fans after the win and a clean sheet at Gillingham

Smiling Tomas Holy applauds the travelling fans after the win and a clean sheet at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


CONFIDENCE BOOSTS

Two players in particular will have come away from this game feeling a lot better about themselves.

Tomas Holy had a nightmare evening against West Ham U21s in Town's opening group game of this competition. On his return to the team, at the place he spent two-and-a-half years of his career, the big Czech commanded his box and made some smart stops. His reaction save to keep Olly Lee's deflected effort out the bottom corner in the second half was superb.

Kane Vincent-Young's confidence will have taken a hit in recent weeks after he was subbed in the first half of the 5-2 home loss to Bolton and then saw his replacement right-back, Janoi Donacien, earn plenty of plaudits.

Kane Vincent-Young on a foray forward during the second half at Gillingham

Kane Vincent-Young on a foray forward during the second half at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Any slight concerns that his powers had diminished after all that time out injured were eased last night thanks to a trademark marauding display.

Elsewhere, centre-back Toto Nsiala didn't put a foot wrong on his return to the side for the first time since he suffered a hamstring injury on the opening day of the campaign.

Jackson, a late replacement on the right wing for Sone Aluko (reported ill on the morning of the game), also provided a reminder that he could be a timely weapon. Several times he swept dangerous crosses into the box, including an inch-perfect ball for Pigott's opener.

Like Kenlock, he has reacted the right way to being told he was surplus to requirements in the summer.

Louie Barry takes on a defender at Gillingham

Louie Barry takes on a defender at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

When Louie Barry played for the U23s last week and then started this game on the bench, it looked for all the world that it would only be a matter of time before Aston Villa called him back from a loan spell which has so far consisted of 68 minutes of League One football.

His livewire late cameo might just have persuaded Cook to give him another little look in the games ahead though.


ALL TO PLAY FOR

It should be said, at this point, that Gillingham had a pretty strong team out.

Yes, Steve Evans made seven changes to the team that started last weekend's 2-0 home loss Wigan - captain Kyle Dempsey and main goal-getter Vadaine Oliver among those dropping out - but it was still very much a senior side.

The likes of Max Ehmer, Stuart O'Keefe, Olly Lee and John Akinde have bags of Football League experience, while Jack Tucker and Robbie McKenzie have been regular starters this season.

Kayden Jackson is held up by a challenge at Priestfield.

Kayden Jackson is held up by a challenge at Priestfield. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

And Ipswich ran out very comfortable winners indeed. Really, the margin of victory should have been greater.

This result means that all four teams in Group A are level on three points following the opening two rounds of matches.

Gillingham host West Ham U21s on Tuesday, October 26, with Ipswich welcoming Colchester United and their army of former Blues players to Portman Road on Tuesday, November 9.

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