Stuart says: Six observations from Ipswich Town’s 3-2 defeat at Leeds United
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Ipswich Town lost 3-2 at Leeds United in an entertaining Championship clash at Elland Road yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.
BEST DISPLAY OF SEASON
Ipswich Town went toe-to-toe with the confident league leaders and gave them a major scare.
They showed character and spirit to stick to the task after going 1-0 down after a flying start for the hosts, 2-1 down moments after equalising and then 3-1 down against the run of play courtesy of Bartosz Bialkowski’s own goal error. Yes, there were several times they could have crumbled in front of a partisan crowd of 34,002 at Elland Road – but they didn’t.
This was far more than just a gritty away display though. There’s been a lot of talk about shot statistics so far this season and how they indicate Town have been riding their luck. Yesterday, the Blues produced 14 attempts on goal and forced 12 corners. It was quality football.
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Leeds fans took to social media to voice their relief and also dish out effusive praise for the visitors’ verge and vigour. It was a major compliment given some of the impressive football they’ve witnessed from their own side this season.
Replicate this sort of display every week and there will be a lot more wins than defeats. Replicate this sort of display in these up-and-coming home games – Sunderland on Tuesday night and Bristol City on Saturday – and stay-away fans will soon come flocking back to Portman Road.
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Saturday’s narrow defeat at the league-leaders was certainly a more enjoyable watch than the unconvincing 2-0 home win over Bolton the previous week. I would go as far as saying this performance was better than any of those produced in the five previous league victories.
THE GOALS There was some pretty shoddy defending from both teams for all five goals.
Defender Conor Shaughnessy was able to dissect Town’s defence too easily with a long, straight through ball from behind the halfway line for Pirre-Michel Lasogga’s 13th minute opener.
David McGoldrick was then left completely unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box as he headed home Grant Ward’s free-kick delivery for the 30th minute leveller.
Within less than two minutes, Town twice weren’t tight enough as Leeds men helped the ball forwards with headers. No-one tracked the run of Kalvin Phillips either as he nipped in to toe the ball past Bialkowski and squeeze in an angled finish.
Bialkowski fumbled Pablo Hernandez’s inswinging corner over the line just as Town were building up a head of steam in the 67th minute, while home keeper Felix Wiedwald simply pushed Dominic Iorfa’s low cross straight into the path of Joe Garner for the latter’s goal in the 71st minute.
SYMPATHY FOR BART
Most keepers would be facing the wrath of fans after such a glaring error, but Bartosz Bialkowski has more than enough credit in the bank to escape criticism. This is probably the first time he’s cost the team a point. Goodness knows how many points he’s saved over an outstanding 18 months.
The Polish custodian will hopefully go home to his family, forget all about it and come back stronger in the weeks ahead.
Tristan Nydam was a surprise starter, but it won’t be a surprise if he keeps getting the nod. Town have a potential star on their hands.
Here was a 17-year-old making only his second league start in front of 34 thousand fans at the historic Elland Road. Not once did he look overawed. Just like fellow England Under-19 international Flynn Downes earlier in the season, he looked like he looked like he’d been playing senior football all his life.
The versatile teenager, who hails from Zimbabwe but grew up in Colchester, operated on the left of midfield but was at his most effective when drifting inside during the second half. He works his socks off to get back into position, fights well above his weight, is technically very good and, most importantly of all, looks to play forwards when he gets it.
When David McGoldrick is in form, Ipswich Town tend to be. It’s no coincidence that the team’s stark dip in performance levels over the last two years has coincided with ‘Didzy’s’ injury frustrations.
Touch wood, the 29-year-old is looking in good nick now and is reproducing his talismanic form of old on a consistent basis again.
The silky smooth forward pressed from the front on Saturday, forced a suicidal Leeds defence into mistakes and was a constant menace throughout.
CHANGES ON TUESDAY?
With the injury list shortening, it will be interesting to see if McCarthy rotates his squad a little for Tuesday night’s visit of Sunderland. The newly-relegated side are still seeking their first Championship win under boss Simon Grayson following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Cardiff.
Freddie Sears, Bersant Celina and Martyn Waghorn are all options if the Blues boss wants to freshen up his attack. Teenage midfielder Flynn Downes may be available again after missing out with a slight thigh injury. Everton loanee Callum Connolly could come back into the defence too.