Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 1-1 home draw with Lincoln City
- Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town moved up to seventh in the League One table following last night's 1-1 home draw with Lincoln City. STUART WATSON reports.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
For the third game in a row, Ipswich Town conceded the game’s first goal.
The Blues had started with energy and intent, but Lincoln increasingly looked sharp on the counter.
Toto Nsiala turned a cross against the post, then Jamie Jones saw a shot deflected wide.
It was, therefore, no surprise when the Imps broke the deadlock in the 29th minute.
Morgan Rogers chested the ball into his path on halfway, strode forwards, chopped inside and whipped a brilliant finish into the far corner of the net from a good 25 yards out.
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The tricky Manchester City loanee, 18, was a real threat off the left side for Lincoln. He’s now got five goals in 12 appearances.
Ipswich were understood to be in poll position to land the teenager at the start of January, only to dally on the deal.
They may well be ruing that.
NEW INSTRUCTIONS, SAME DEFICIANCIES
We’re quickly learning Paul Cook’s buzz words.
The charismatic Liverpudlian is constantly yelling at the players to ‘get higher’ and ‘be brave’.
In the opening 15/20 minutes, there was evidence of that as players threw caution to the wind.
Teddy Bishop, playing in his preferred No.10 role, was gliding past players for fun with the ball glued to his feet.
On the right, Gwion Edwards was trying to give as good as he got in a two and fro battle with attack-minded left-back Cohen Bramall.
It felt like the shackles were off. It never led to any chances being created though. And the counter risk was palpable.
After the break, Lincoln appeared happy to sit off and protect their slender lead. Ipswich had the lion’s share of possession, but again no cutting edge.
In truth, Town looked like they could have played for hours and not created anything from open play.
Some of the slow, predictable build-up play from earlier in the season was back. Nsiala back to keeper Tomas Holy must have been one of the most played passes in the match.
And when Blues did work some good positions, the final ball was always lacking.
They finished the game having produced just three efforts on goal – all of them coming from set-pieces.
That simply has to improve.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were bemoaning Town’s lack of threat from set-pieces.
Now they’re making a habit of digging out results thanks to dead ball deliveries.
The 72nd minute equaliser was secured after Andre Dozzell floated a deep free-kick into the box. Luke Chambers won a towering flick on and then James Wilson did really well to generate enough power on his standing header to find the bottom corner.
Town's last six goals have all come from set-piece situations now.
Nsiala had gone close with a header from another Dozzell free-kick delivery at the end of the first half, while Dozzell also tested the keeper with a direct dead ball attempt.
Having waited 44 games to get his first goal for the club, Wilson now has two in three.
He’ll have enjoyed this one against the club that released him less than two years ago.
On several occasions, Wilson strode out from the back with the ball at his feet trying to make something happen.
A contract extension for him is surely in the offing. Ipswich have only lost three of the 14 league games he’s started this season.
Cook made three changes to the team which had lost 3-1 at Gillingham three days earlier.
Out went Josh Harrop, Keanan Bennetts and Troy Parrott, and in came Flynn Downes, Jack Lankester and Edwards.
It was the first time there’d been no loan players in the Town starting line-up since the reverse fixture against Lincoln back on October 24.
Mark McGuinness, Luke Matheson and Luke Thomas were again out of the 18, while Harrop, Bennetts and Parrott were on the bench.
It was also the first time that five academy graduates had started a league game all season. They were Myles Kenlock, Downes, Dozzell, Bishop and Lankester.
Kenlock had another decent game at left-back. At times, he looked the most likely route to goal.
Lankester, in his first outing since December 12, had some neat and tidy moments tucking inside off both flanks before being withdrawn on the hour.
Downes, making first start in almost a month and only his eighth of the season, looks like he’s still working his way back to full fitness and form.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Again, you could take heart from Cook’s post-match assessment.
He wants everyone to know that he knows there are clear shortfalls, but is able to express that in way that still feels positive.
It’s reassuring to hear a manager describing the game in the same way the vast majority of people saw it.
It gives you real confidence he will get things right.
Whether he’s got the tools or time to properly get things going in the short-term remains to be seen.
One or two training sessions between games isn’t giving him much chance to really implement his ideas.
But if Town can get three to six points on the board from the next two matches – at home to Plymouth on Saturday and away to Fleetwood next Tuesday – then they’ll have a real chance of making the play-offs.
Cook will then get two blank midweeks to work with the squad ahead of trips to his former clubs Portsmouth and Wigan.
Eight of the final 14 matches are against teams currently in the bottom third. Only two are against sides in the top half.
It really is there for the taking.