Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich's 1-0 win at Lincoln

Town players celebrate after the game.

Town players celebrate after the game. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Ipswich Town recorded their first win and clean sheet of the season yesterday. STUART WATSON reflects on the 1-0 triumph at Lincoln City. 

SHEER RELIEF 

The full-time whistle sparked an out-pouring of emotions. 

First, a roar of relief from the 1,710 travelling fans after a nervy-jangling second half and accompanying seven minutes of stoppage-time. The exhausted players, a weight off their shoulders, responded with prolonged and appreciative applause. 

Then, just as the pitch cleared, out came Mark Ashton for his impassioned moment. The chief executive ran over to the away end wildly fist-pumping before frantically high fiving and hugging anyone and everyone in sight.  

Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton celebrates.

Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton celebrates. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Who can blame him for letting it all out after finally seeing the team he spent all summer assembling record their first win at the ninth attempt? Chairman Michael O’Leary watched on, beaming ear-to-ear. 

Then, lastly, we had Paul Cook tearing up in his post-match interview. The Blues boss pointed to the heavens in tribute to his father. Finally, eight days on from that bereavement, he could go and grieve with his family. 

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Man, this felt good. Let's hope, in months to come, we look back on it as the start of something really special.

Town manager Paul Cook screams with delight at the final whistle.

Town manager Paul Cook screams with delight at the final whistle. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

ONE OF OUR OWN 

Macauley Bonne bulldozed his way through TJ Eyoma to powerfully head home Hayden Coulson’s pin-point delivery for the 30th minute winner. 

Was there a bit of a push? Probably. Imps boss Michael Appleton was booked at half-time for his protests. Isn’t it nice to be talking about the game’s pivotal moment going Town’s way for once though? 

For me, the Lincoln defender had to be stronger. Bonne just wanted it more. 

Town fans celebrate.

Ipswich Town's travelling fans enjoyed their trip to Lincoln last weekend - but will the Portman Road faithful be given something to cheer over the coming days? - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town fans haven’t fallen in love with a player this deeply for many, many years. 

It’s like the Blues have plucked their most passionate fan out of the crowd to play and discovered he’s actually really rather good. Never has a loan player felt less like a loan player. 

The 25-year-old battled in the air, charged down defenders and demanded that his team-mates join him in pressing higher up the field. 

He’s now got five goals in eight appearances, including four in the last three. 

Macauley Bonne gives Town the lead.

Macauley Bonne gives Town the lead. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com

STARTING TO CLICK 

They may have only scored once, but the first half was Town’s most balanced and joined-up attacking display of the season so far.  

The Blues played some really slick football, maintaining possession for long spells and changing up the tempo to work the ball through the thirds. 

Calm and collected deep midfielder Tom Carroll, making his first league start, constantly showed for the ball off the defence. His Premier League pedigree has been underestimated by some.  

Bersant Celina, making his (second) debut, constantly showed for the ball in the No.10 position too.  

As a result, Town finally had some penetration through the middle as well as down the flanks. 

Scott Fraser, playing tucked in off the left and often interchanging with Celina, put in a couple of teasing deliveries. 

Cameron Burgess had seen a header cannon down off the underside of the crossbar at a corner moments before the Blues took the lead. 

Town players celebrate with Macauley Bonne after his first half goal.

Town players celebrate with Macauley Bonne after his first half goal. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Wes Burns fired narrowly over following a perfectly-weighted Celina through pass, while Lewis Montsma had to make a saving tackle on Celina after the Kosovan had played a sharp one-two with Fraser to burst into the box. 

Town fully deserved their half-time lead. 

A CLEAN SHEET! 

It was a different story after the restart. 

Within seconds, Coulson had over-stretched when clearing the ball and soon limped off with what looked like a groin injury. 

That meant a defensive reshuffle. Luke Woolfenden came on and Burgess moved across to left-back. 

Cameron Burgess heads clear.

Cameron Burgess heads clear during last weekend's 1-0 win at Lincoln City. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Lincoln spent the majority of the half on the front foot. Ipswich, however, were organised, worked hard and the Imps got increasingly desperate. 

Vaclav Hladky, back in the team because of the fact Christian Walton had got injured in training the previous day, looked a far more assured figure between the sticks.  

In front of him, George Edmundson and Burgess defended aggressively and in unison. 

Every time the famous Lincoln air raid siren sounded to signal an incoming home corner, Burgess was there to head the ball away. 

Ipswich keeper Vaclav Hladky in goal for Town at Lincoln.

Ipswich keeper Vaclav Hladky in goal for Town at Lincoln. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Janoi Donacien, in for Kane Vincent-Young at right-back, read the game superbly to snuff out the threat of dangerman Anthony Scully. He was crucial to this shut out.

Lee Evans ratted around in midfield, trying to disrupt. When Evans got hurt in a 50/50, Burns exacted some retribution moments later. These players were fighting for each other.  

No-one knew how much stoppage-time was to be played because the fourth official’s board malfunctioned and there was no announcement over the tannoy. 

It turned out to be an additional seven minutes, but Ipswich navigated them with nous. 

Janoi Donacien in action at Lincoln.

Janoi Donacien in action at Lincoln. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Evans stayed down to receive treatment for some cramp. Hladky stayed down holding his back after taking the slightest of kicks. Rekeem Harper held the ball strongly in the corner. 

From lightweight and naive, to playing with edge and intelligence. This clean sheet, having leaked 18 goals in the previous eight games, was a major step in the right direction.


TALE OF TWO TENS 

Given the medical all clear to play again, following his Covid-related heart problems of the summer, Celina was thrust straight into the starting XI. 

The talented Dijon loanee was always on the move looking to affect the game. And while not everything he tried came off, there were plenty of glimpses of his game-changing class. 

Bersant Celina punches the air after the game.

Bersant Celina punches the air after the game. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

There is certainly a steely-eyed look about the Kosovan. If this is him barely fit, then we can all be excited about what’s to come. 

Having understandably faded, Celina was replaced by Rekeem Harper in the 65th minute.  

Playing in a more advanced midfield role than usual, he twice almost helped the Blues put the game to bed.  

First, in the 70th minute, Harper burst onto a Fraser pass and pulled the ball back for Burns in the box. Cohen Bramall was there to make a last-ditch tackle. 

Rekeem Harper and Lewis Montsma in action.

Rekeem Harper and Lewis Montsma in action. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Then, in the 77th minute, he was at the heart of a one-touch move which ended with Fraser stinging the palms of keeper Joshua Griffiths. 

Cook commented afterwards that he may have found a new role for the former West Brom man. 

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