Stu says: Five observations following Town's 2-1 win against Shrewsbury
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller - stephenw
Ipswich Town are up to 14th in the League One table following yesterday's 2-1 home win against Shrewsbury Town. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Mind games from Shrewsbury? Or did new skipper Sam Morsy simply decide to break with Portman Road tradition? Without knowing who won the toss, it's impossible to say. Either way, the teams switched halves before kick-off and Ipswich Town spent the first half attacking the North Stand end.
What followed was an utterly dominant opening spell from the Blues.
Sam Morsy drove through the middle to win a free-kick. Lee Evans curled just wide.
Macauley Bonne converted from an offside position following a fine Evans pass and sweeping Wes Burns cross (a cut-back to Conor Chaplin may have been the better option).
Burns peeled away at the far post to head a deep Scott Fraser dead ball delivery into the side-netting. Burns, who had won the free-kick himself, looked to have wing-back George Nurse on toast.
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Matt Penney thumped a cross-cum-shot just past the post after an exquisite one-touch move up the left involving Fraser, Penney and Chaplin forced a corner.
Shrewsbury looked every bit as poor as Doncaster had done at Portman Road. Ipswich, carving through at will, finally got their breakthrough in the 23rd minute.
After Marco Marosi produced a superb one-handed reaction save to deny Bonne's firm close-range header, Chaplin was quickest on the rebound.
The man who had replaced Bersant Celina in the side while he was away on international smashed (Cook's only change from the Accrington defeat) joyfully smashed home his third goal in four games.
At that stage, it felt as though the floodgates could open...
My good friend David, who looks after the media at Portman Road, enquired as to whether I own a dog at the half-time interval. Confused, I replied in the negative. 'Well if you did, don't give this lot its lead... they'd only let it go'.
For some reason, Ipswich seem at their most vulnerable right after they score on Suffolk soil.
Quickly flattening the home celebrations happened against Morecambe (11 minutes), MK Dons (four), AFC Wimbledon (four), Bolton (five) and West Ham U21s (10). And it happened again here. This time, the joy lasted just five minutes.
Yes, Shaun Whalley's hammer strike into the top corner from outside of the box was excellent. However, in the build-up, Penney lost an aerial duel and then Morsy was out-muscled. The Town skipper may well have been clipped from behind, but, for me, he should have been stronger after getting himself between ball and man. To me, it looked like he was trying to turn out of danger rather than simply dealing with the danger.
Goals change games and it was amazing to see the shift in confidence levels from both sides.
Town briefly went to pieces. After Edmundson's poor header and Penney's hashed clearance, Shrewsbury could have scored again when Ryan Bowman fired over from six-yards out.
Moments later, Cameron Burgess was turned on halfway and booked for a desperate foul on Sam Cosgrove.
Town limped into half-time level. How on earth had that happened?
After receiving a half-time rollicking from boss Paul Cook, the Blues, to their credit, responded really well.
The early game dominance of possession returned. And now, whenever moves broke down, Town were showing aggression and desire to get on second balls quickest. The result was that Shrewsbury could barely get out of their own half.
Reward came in the 54th minute. Penney's powerful run up the left (his second since the restart) won a corner. Then, from Fraser's inswinging delivery, Bonne produced a moment of magic.
First, there was a clever nudge of his marker and late run to the near post. Next, he leapt like a salmon and expertly guided a towering header into the far top corner.
It was a class goal that came with a classy celebration.
Town's red-hot striker initially shushed keeper Marosi, in response to an earlier confrontation in the game, then ran over to blow a kiss to young disabled fan Maddy, someone who had 'warmed his heart' during a meeting in the week.
What a man. He's on nine goals for the season now, including eight in the last seven.
Thankfully, Town kept their heads after this goal. The game management was much better.
On a rare occasion Shrewsbury played through press, Janoi Donacien was there to make a thumping challenge. He was rock-solid once again.
More than once, Edmundson was cool as a cucumber with the ball at his feet under pressure.
Town didn't have many chances to score again - Bonne was close to connecting with Penney's low cross in the 71st minute - but there was a real control about their play.
Kyle Edwards came on for the fading Burns and was soon striking fear into the tiring opposition. His outrageous piece of skill tight to the touchline late on was a real crowd pleasing moment.
Might Town have benefitted from an 'evening things out' decision from referee Will Finnie in the latter stages?
First, in the 75th minute, he didn't award Town a penalty when a long ball bounced up awkwardly onto Ethan Ebanks-Landell in the box. Strong appeals for handball were waved away.
Moments later, Luke Leahy was adamant he should have been awarded a spot-kick after getting the wrong side of Edmundson in the opposite area.
That was Shrewsbury's only real attack of note in a one-sided second half. But it was a reminder of how fragile a one-goal lead is.
There was further concern when Penney limped off with a tight hamstring. With no full-back on the bench, Toto Nsiala was introduced to play at right-back.
Thankfully, Ipswich were not made to rue not killing this game off earlier.
Four wins in six. Back-to-back home wins. Back-to-back wins in all competitions. Up to 14th. The gap to the play-off places cut to six points...
It would have been really easy for Paul Cook to come out and wax lyrical about Bonne's goal, his team's second half character and gloss over that first half wobble.
Instead, he focussed his entire post-match interview on that sticky patch.
He's right to be angered by that. Standards have to be kept sky high. It's not enough to simply say 'this team is far more entertaining to watch than those of recent years'. That's a pretty low bar.
This is a hand-picked squad that's been assembled to win and win regularly.
So to hear the manager demanding more is reassuring.
The settling in period is coming to an end now. The Jekyll and Hyde nature of performances needs to stop.
Consistency - both within games and from one game to the next - is now key if the Blues are to get themselves into the promotion mix.