Stu says: Seven observations following Town's 2-1 FA Cup win at Oldham
- Credit: Pagepix Ltd
Ipswich Town progressed to the second round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 replay win at Oldham last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Not the most convincing display, but a win's a win. Ipswich Town haven't had many of them in the FA Cup over the last decade after all.
The Blues are normally the ones on the end of a cupset. Last night, as Wycombe, MK Dons and Oxford United were all dumped out by lower league opposition, Paul Cook's men found a way on a rain-soaked night in Greater Manchester.
From mid-September onwards, Town's form across all competitions reads: P15 W8 D5 L2 F29 A12. That's not too shabby.
Forget all the usual nonsense about 'wanting to concentrate on the league'. Staying in both the Papa John's Trophy and FA Cup as long as possible can only be a positive.
Winning is a habit. And the more games there are, the more chance Cook has to keep his large squad both sharp and happy.
- 1 'Calm, graceful and kind': Tributes paid to martial arts world champion
- 2 More than 20 drivers caught at speeds of 100mph on A14 within an hour
- 3 Dedicated daughter steps up after tragic death of 'amazing' mum Heidi
- 4 Snow falls in Suffolk overnight as cold snap set to continue
- 5 Police cordon off Stowmarket dentist after break-in
- 6 Fire breaks out at British Sugar Factory
- 7 Ratings: How the Ipswich Town players performed in their 2-1 Crewe win
- 8 5 roadworks for Suffolk motorists to plan their journeys around this week
- 9 'The bigger picture is the result' - Cook on Crewe win
- 10 Watch: Celina's wonder goal against Crewe
Beat Arsenal's U21s on November 30 and the Blues would be just three wins away from a Wembley final.
Beat Barrow (currently 16th in League Two) on December 4 and Town are in the hat with the big boys.
SLOPPY START, LUCKY LEVELLER
Oldham, enjoying the distraction of a League Two relegation battle, raised their game. Ipswich, by contrast, looked disjointed and sloppy. Time after time passes were loose.
Davis Keillor-Dunn side-footed into the side-netting after an uncontested cross on the left from Benny Couto, then Christian Walton made a big save with his legs from Keillor-Dunn after Dylan Fage had shrugged Scott Fraser off the ball.
The home side got their deserved breakthrough in the 29th minute when Harrison McGahey headed in the rebound at poorly defended corner. Luke Woolfended had been outmuscled by big centre-half Carl Piergianni prior to Walton's reaction stop.
Town continued looked vulnerable at set-pieces all evening, even after Cameron Burgess replaced Woolfenden at the break. That's something for Francis Jeffers to work on back in training.
Ipswich simply hadn't been at the races in the opening exchanges, but they were gifted an equaliser. Joe Pigott was the one providing the cross rather than attacking it, so there looked little danger on when keeper Jayson Leutwiler caught the ball unopposed. Somehow, though, he spilled the ball with defender Jordan Clarke in close proximity and the alert Conor Chaplin rammed the ball into an unguarded net.
From the equaliser onwards, the story was much the same as the second half against Oxford three days prior.
Town worked the ball into plenty of good positions, but the final cross/pass/shot wasn't quite there. Oldham, to be fair, kept making timely interceptions and blocks.
It looked like this game was heading to extra-time. Thankfully, a moment of magic arrived.
Idris El Mizouni's goal 10 minutes from time was one worthy of winning any game.
When a half-cleared cross fell at his feet a full 30 yards from goal, the French-born midfielder killed it with his first touch and then sent a delicious dipping shot into the far corner of the net with his second.
Fraser gave the 21-year-old an encouraging push in the back to go and soak up the acclaim of 496 jubilant away fans behind that goal.
The humble celebration tells you a lot about the man. Instead of pointing to the name on his back or posing statue still with chest puffed out, El Mizouni simply stood and applauded the supporters.
His goal capped a good few days for the club's academy, Bailey Clements having made an impressive league debut against Oxford.
Even after all that summer recruitment, Cook's shown that homegrown players will still get their chance if they earn it. That should act as inspiration for others at Playford Road.
It was interesting to see Rekeem Harper start as the No.10 and Scott Fraser in a deeper midfield role alongside El Mizouni.
Cook admitted afterwards that, following that poor opening half hour from his team, a little 'tweak' in the middle of the pitch helped change the dynamic.
There was no major formation change, to my eye at least, but Fraser perhaps began to operate a little higher up the field and was to pull a few strings from far more dangerous positions.
"We got Scott Fraser on the ball a lot more and then our lads shone a little bit better," said the Blues boss.
The skilful Bersant Celina and energetic Conor Chaplin have both had moments of brilliance in the No.10 role this season, but no-one at the club can unpick a lock quite like the smooth and silky Fraser.
Working out how best to utilise his talents remains a conundrum.
ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT
It's fair to say that the majority of Town fans were underwhelmed when the club revealed a new plain white away shirt in the summer.
The ultimate popularity of kits tends to be set by the results gained in them though.
Gillingham, Portsmouth, Wycombe and now Oldham... That's now four wins from four in games played under the lights in white.
If the powers that be at Portman Road are in any way superstitious maybe they should think about asking if it can used for the crunch home game against Rotherham next Tuesday night.
England did, after all, wear blue at Wembley last week.
BACK IN THE FOLD
It was great to see Kane Vincent-Young come on as a second half substitute. When the right-back went off clutching his shoulder in the first meeting between these sides 10 days earlier it was natural to fear a longer absence given his recent bad fortune.
Another positive was seeing Tom Carroll among the nine substitutes. It's easy to forget how good the former Premier League midfielder was looking before a hip problem flared up in September. Along with El Mizouni he should keep Sam Morsy (just one booking away from a suspension) and Lee Evans on their toes.
Town now prepare for two big games in the space of four days.
First, it's a trip to seventh-place Sunderland on Saturday. Then, it's the visit of third-place Rotherham on Tuesday night.
Black Cats boss Lee Johnson and his assistant Jamie McAllister were at Boundary Park last night to size up the Blues ahead of the weekend.
Johnson, who enjoyed a warm embrace and long chat with Town CEO Mark Ashton before the match (the pair worked together for a long-time at Bristol City), won't have gleaned too much given it's no secret how Cook sides set-up and that Town's personnel will look vey different at the weekend.
His side will have had 10 full days to stew on a six-game winless run by the time kick-off comes around.