Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 0-0 home draw with AFC Wimbledon

Flynn Downes with his head in his hands after Town had conceded a first half penalty.

Flynn Downes with his head in his hands after Town had conceded a first half penalty. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Ipswich Town once again drew a blank in yesterday's 0-0 home draw with AFC Wimbledon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.


10 HOURS! 

That’s now five goalless draws in the last eight games. 

Incredibly, Ipswich Town have now gone six full games and more than 10 hours without scoring. 

It surpasses the five-game goalless run in 2016 under Mick McCarthy. That came in the Championship, and included games against the likes of Aston Villa and Leeds. 

Another blank would equal a club record of seven games without scoring. That came in 1994 as part of a Premiership relegation season (the run including the infamous 9-0 loss to Manchester United). 

This Kayden Jackson second half shot was saved by AFC Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev.

This Kayden Jackson second half shot was saved by AFC Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Ipswich Town – to repeat – have now gone more than 10 hours without scoring... In the third-tier... Having faced the likes of Rochdale, AFC Wimbledon and Northampton. 

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The closest the Blues came to scoring in this game was when a Wimbledon player glanced an Andre Dozzell free-kick onto the top of his own bar. 

Had that gone in then ‘own goal’ would have moved joint-second in Town’s topscorer charts. 

Ipswich have scored 41 goals in 43 league games and it’s hard to see where the next one is coming from heading into dead rubber games against Swindon (a), Shrewsbury (a) and Fleetwood (h). 

Only six times in the club’s history have Town finished a campaign having scored less than a goal a game. 

Upon relegation from the Championship, some dreamed (semi-jokingly) of a ‘100 points, 100 goals’ campaign. Town are still 13 goals short of the latter mark 79 games into life in League One.

Town sit 11th place in the table and are nearer to the relegation zone than the top two. 

Embarrassing is an understatement. 

CORNELL TO THE RESCUE 

The fact that goalkeeper David Cornell was comfortably the Blues’ best player speaks volumes. 

Making his first start since early January, the Welshman kept out Joe Piggot’s poor penalty attempt with his legs midway through the first half and was quickest to the rebound.  

He went on to make smart stops from Ayoub Assal and Piggot in the second half too. 

Ipswich keeper David Cornell saves a Joe Pigott penalty.

Ipswich keeper David Cornell saves a Joe Pigott penalty. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Ipswich rode their luck massively in a one-sided first half. 

McGuinness, who kept his place as skipper Luke Chambers sat on the bench for a third successive game (read into that what you will), had given the penalty away with a tug of Piggot’s shirt. 

Luke Woolfenden, McGuinness and Stephen Ward all had to make last ditch blocks before that, while Jack Rudoni fired wide from a golden position. 

Error-strewn Town were lucky not to be behind at the break. 

INJECTION OF SPARK 

Ipswich did improve after the break thanks largely to the half-time introduction of Armando Dobra. 

He replaced Keanan Bennetts who, once again, hugely frustrated. The Borussia Monchengladbach loanee went clean through in the 15th minute only to side-foot comfortably wide.  

Dobra injected some much-needed edge to a lifeless outfit. The 20-year-old tested the keeper with one effort, had a penalty appeal waved away and rifled a low cross through a crowded box. 

Armando Dobra in action against AFC Wimbledon.

Armando Dobra in action against AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Surely Paul Cook has to give him the final three games now over a loanee who has consistently failed to take his chance? 

Another positive was Kane Vincent-Young getting through another 90 minutes and looking to get on the front foot whenever possible. He’ll be one if the few players sticking around for next season. 

Oli Hawkins battled gamely up top. The big man’s presence at least helped Town not concede from a set-piece on this occasion. 

The use of Cornell and Hawkins means Cook has now started 27 different players during his first 13 games in charge.  

Kane Vincent-Young takes a throw -in against AFC Wimbledon.

Kane Vincent-Young takes a throw -in against AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

GWION'S GAFFES 

A clip of McGuinness failing to make a five-yard pass to Dozzell went viral during Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to Northampton. 

This time, it was footage of two horrendous set-piece deliveries from Gwion Edwards which did the rounds on social media. 

First, the Welsh winger over-hit a corner so badly that it almost cleared the box before bouncing out of play on the other side of the field for a throw-in. 

Then, after doing really well to win a free-kick up the left side of the box, he smashed the resultant dead ball high into the stands. 

Gwion Edwards shoots against AFC Wimbledon.

Gwion Edwards shoots against AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

ON THE BEACH 

The phrase ‘on the beach’ is probably used a little too readily in football reporting at this stage of the season. 

No-one could argue with it being used for this group of players now though (were it not for the fact foreign travel is off the cards). 

This is a down-trodden, confidence-shot, nervy group that are just going through the motions. They know the vast majority of them are out the door this summer. 

Cole Skuse organising the side after coming on as a second half substitution.

Cole Skuse organising the side after coming on as a second half substitution. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

I'm a little uncomfortable with the narrative completely shifting from ‘this squad is good on paper and has a rubbish manager’, to ‘these are a bunch of losers that the manager can do nothing more with’. 

The truth, as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle. 

The ability of these players, sadly, was probably overestimated by almost everybody, myself included.   

But could/should Cook still have got more of them over 13 games (W2 D6 L5)? Absolutely. He knows that. 

Town manager Paul Cook pictured ahead of the Town v AFC Wimbledon match.

Town manager Paul Cook pictured ahead of the Town v AFC Wimbledon match. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.com

Mind you, there’s an argument that short-term pain was necessary for long-term gain. 

Had Cook come in and molly coddled a few, handed out some contracts and not tried to change too much tactically, it may well have allowed Ipswich to pick up one or two more results and sneak into the play-offs. 

Would that really have helped the club properly kick on next season though? I don’t think so. It would have just papered over the cracks rather than exposed the structural fix that’s required.  

Let's be honest, things have been broken for a while.

There have been ample opportunities for players to change opinions. There have been several periods of good will squandered.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For everyone’s sake, it’s time for the hard reset. 

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