Stu says: Six observations following Town's 2-0 loss at Sunderland

Bersant Celina canÕt believe his missed first half chance against Sunderland

Bersant Celina holds his head after failing to take a first half chance against Sunderland. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at Sunderland after being hit by two late sucker punches. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.

Ipswich players dejected after conceding the first late goal at Sunderland

Ipswich players dejected after conceding the first late goal at Sunderland - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

It would have been frustrating enough had Ipswich drawn this game. To lose it felt like a real punch to the gut.

Town spurned two big first half chances, utterly controlled the second half, never looked in danger, but were undone by two late soft goals.

This was so close to being a classic away day display. So close isn't enough though.

Ultimately, it was defeat to an out-of-form Sunderland side that, quite frankly, were crying out to be beaten.

The Blacks Cats were winless in six going into this one. There was anxiety in the stands. There was anxiety on the pitch. Following a 17-day break from league action, they looked rusty. Trying a new formation for the first time this season, they looked disjointed too.

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Ipswich couldn't capitalise though. They have let too many points slip through their fingers this season. Every time it happens it ramps up the pressure another notch on the fixtures ahead.

Up next... The visit of high-flying Rotherham on Tuesday night. 

Bersant Celina forces save during the first half at The Stadium of Light against Sunderland

Bersant Celina forces save during the first half at The Stadium of Light against Sunderland. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


MISSED CHANCES

The first goal in this match was always going to be crucial.

No doubt about it, the dynamic of this game would have been so different had Bersant Celina taken at least one of his two golden opportunities in the first period.

With half an hour on the clock, Kyle Edwards put the ball on a plate for him with a square pass inside the box. The Kosovan didn't connect cleanly though and keeper Thorven Hoffmann comfortably collected.

Two minutes before the break, Celina was teed up again just beyond the penalty spot. This time he fired too close to Hoffmann. The German custodian did well to react to follow-up attempts from Celina and Macauley Bonne, but the reality is the ball should have been buried at the first attempt.

Celina has previously proven himself to be a man for big moments. Sadly he couldn't deliver on this occasion. A player with very high self standards, he'll certainly be stewing on this game.

Kyle Edwards is held by Carl Winchester at Sunderland

Kyle Edwards is held by Carl Winchester at Sunderland - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

GOALS HAVE DRIED UP

For the third time in a week, Town spent the second half in command without ever really looking like knocking the door down.

The goals have started to dry up for what was previously a free-scoring side. That's now three blanks in the last four games.

Janoi Donacien's teasing deliveries from deep looked like the most likely route to goal in this one.

There wasn't enough evidence of full-backs bombing past tucked in wingers. There wasn't enough midfield thrust from Sam Morsy and Lee Evans. Wide duo Sone Aluko and Kyle Edwards both excited and frustrated in equal measure.   

Without Wes Burns (out for a 'short period' with a hamstring injury) darting past markers and sweeping in crosses for Bonne to attack, Town don't have many other go to patterns of attacking play.

When Cook's adventurous brand of 4-2-3-1 football works it's brilliant to watch. It's a machine that needs all its parts to be in place and fully functioning though.

Christian Walton is beaten by Aiden McGeady from the penalty spot at Sunderland

Christian Walton is beaten by Aiden McGeady from the penalty spot at Sunderland - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

SET-PIECE FRAILTY

If you can't win it, make sure you don't lose it. Town, adding another layer to the frustration, couldn't do that.

Forget the inconsequential second goal in stoppage-time - that was one of those nonsense modern day penalty awards.

Toto Nsiala could do little to get his arms out the way of Ross Stewart's well-struck shot at close quarters. Aiden McGeady emphatically converted the softest of spot-kicks.

It was the 85th minute opener which is of concern.

Luke OÕNien breaks the deadlock at The Stadium of Light late in the second half against Ipswich

Luke OÕNien breaks the deadlock at The Stadium of Light late in the second half against Ipswich - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Alex Pritchard's corner delivery was high and swirling, rather than whipped and wicked. Christian Walton, who has been so commanding in the air, made a poor decision to go looking for the catch on this occasion. He ran into traffic and, despite there being three Ipswich players under the ball, Luke O'Nien was able to head in.

The fact it was him to score, after a pathetic theatrical attempt to get Celina sent-off earlier in the game, made it all the more galling.

Ipswich aren't defending set-pieces well at the minute. 


BONNE SUBBED

We all love Macauley Bonne. His latest post-match interview, in which he says he'd be 'angry' if QPR recalled him in January, only adds to the hometown hero status.

It's now just one goal in six games for him though.

Macauley Bonne under pressure at Sunderland

Macauley Bonne under pressure at Sunderland. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

A lack of service is definitely one reason for that. And you certainly can't ever question his effort and desire. It's just not been happening for him lately. Realistically he wasn't going to stay red-hot forever.

Prior to this game he had been subbed in the league just twice - in the 88th and 89th minutes. Joe Pigott replaced him in the 81st minute on this occasion.

Bonne rightly stays 'undroppable' for the foreseeable future, but he's arguably becoming less 'unsub-able'.

Cook, it seems, remain reluctant to pair the two front men together.  


BY GEORGE!

Let's end on a positive.

George Edmundson was, once again, outstanding at the heart of the defence.

He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Repeatedly he's there to head the ball away or make a vital interception.

His nickname of 'The Fridge' isn't just a reference to size, but also to coolness too. Never does he appear flustered.

One moment in the second half saw him deal brilliantly with an awkward ball over the top. First there was an impressive turn of pace and then came an outrageous nut-meg of Ross Stewart tight to the touchline.

To have signed the 24-year-old on a four-year contract increasingly looks like the best piece of business Ipswich Town did back in the summer.

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