Stu says: Six observations following Town's 2-1 win against Crewe
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town beat Crewe Alexandra 2-1 at Portman Road yesterday afternoon. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.
WHAT A GOAL!
Over time, this game will only be remembered for one thing - Bersant Celina's outrageous goal in first half stoppage-time.
First he controlled a long ball over his shoulder completely dead on the run. Then, after a quick glance up, he chipped a high floating effort that sailed majestically over the back-peddling goalkeeper and into the top corner.
It conjured up memories of Eric Cantona versus Sunderland in 1996 and, closer to home, Finidi George against Sunderland in 2001.
As Sone Aluko hoisted the Kosovan aloft to take the crowd's acclaim, Conor Chaplin was frozen to the spot holding his face in shock.
In a break with etiquette, all members of the press box stopped writing to applaud.
- 1 A14 reopens after 'serious' crash involving three lorries
- 2 Two Suffolk beaches named among best in Britain for a winter walk
- 3 How have Suffolk's towns changed over the last decade?
- 4 Town closing in on permanent deal for keeper Walton
- 5 Ipswich Town transfer rumour: League One trio eye Preston defender
- 6 Road closed while fire crews tackle Martlesham blaze
- 7 Anger as second homeowners set to receive £191million in Covid grants
- 8 Suffolk mum diagnosed with terminal cancer after beating disease twice before
- 9 PM ‘dropped a clanger’ with garden bash apology, legal expert suggests
- 10 Hughes nets a hat-trick for Town Under 23s as familiar face plays for QPR
This was a real 'I was there' moment.
A goal worthy of winning any game. Thankfully, it proved to be that... just.
DID THE HARD PART
Town came into this game under real pressure to beat the division's rock-bottom side following back-to-back defeats against Sunderland and Rotherham.
Any nerves should have been completely eradicated by a third minute opener though.
There couldn't have been a more popular goal provider than Aluko. Having missed the midweek match after his father suddenly died, the 32-year-old was back in the team. And, just like at Sunderland the previous weekend, he was electric inside the opening exchanges.
After he danced his way along the byline and saw a low cross turned in by defender Luke Offord it looked for all the world like the floodgates could open.
Crewe were all over the place at the back. It was one-way traffic. At that stage, it looked like another Doncaster result could be on the cards.
OFF THE GAS
For some reason, Ipswich have a habit of giving demoralised opponents a bit of hope.
The sharpness, intensity and focus dropped several notches. Crewe, all of a sudden, began to work a few chances on the counter-attack.
In possession, Town suddenly looked short of ideas. It was back to being pass-think-pass-think rather than intuitive link-up. Paul Cook barked at his players to 'get higher'. Several times players were caught offside.
Out of possession, the Blues looked ragged.
Christian Walton had to make a fine fingertip save to turn Chris Long's rasping effort over the bar.
The crowd went flat and Town began to live very dangerously as the interval approached.
But then came Celina's moment of magic. Again, all nerves should have been killed. But they weren't...
Macauley Bonne just can't seem to buy a goal at the moment.
He had three big chances to kill this game off in the second half but was unable to take any of them.
First, in the 54th minute, he cut inside from the left but bent the ball comfortably wide after opening his body up.
Then, in the 67th minute, he somehow fired over from little more than six-yards out after Celina picked him out from inside the box.
Had one of those gone in then we wouldn't have had the nervy finish which followed.
Even after Crewe pulled one back, Ipswich had opportunities to restore a two-goal cushion as the visitors began to leave gaps at the back.
Kyle Edwards' wait for his first Town goal goes on. He blasted over in the box after a superb dribble inside from the left touchline. That sums up the start of his Blues career.
Then Bonne was unable to take a one-on-one chance at the death, his attempt smothered by advancing keeper Dave Richards.
Having scored 11 goals in his first 11 appearances for his beloved Blues, the QPR loanee has now bagged just one in his last eight.
The instructions for Joe Pigott to get ready to come on were given so late that Town actually ran out of time to make that sub. He'll be fired up to make a point over these next two cup games.
WIN'S A WIN
When Long diverted in Mikael Mandron's shot in the 73rd minute squeaky bum time was officially activated.
Town, again, started to live very dangerously. In what has been a theme of the season, too many soft fouls were conceded.
Having let two-goal leads slip against AFC Wimbledon and Cambridge United, there was a sense of 'here we go again'.
Thankfully, Janoi Donacien came up with a big block on Chris Porter at the death after Mandron had beaten an out of sorts Bailey Clements down the right.
A win's a win, I guess. This certainly wasn't a performance to restore some of the fading feelgood factor though. On and off the pitch the belief just seems so very fragile right now.
Town now need to go and win home cup games against Arsenal U21s (Wednesday, papa John's Trophy) and Barrow (Saturday, FA Cup) to ensure the mood is as buoyant as it can be heading into the festive fixtures.
Lee Evans was dropped for this game, with Scott Fraser tried in a deeper midfield role alongside Sam Morsy.
"We were just trying to get Scotty more involved in the game," explained Cook.
"He’s one of our most productive players with the ball, certainly passing forward, so we had a little look at that. At times we thought it worked well and at other times it didn’t.
“That's no different than everything we try. We’re trying aspects to see whether it’ll help us be better. Sometimes you feel it does and sometimes you feel it doesn’t.”
Almost halfway into this season and Cook still can't quite find the right recipe for his fresh summer produce.
Every passing taste just leaves you feeling like something is missing.