North Stander: 'Finally, reasons to be optimistic for the future of our club'

Town manager Paul Cook animated on the touchline.

Town manager Paul Cook animated on the touchline. - Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwa

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt gives his take on the Blues after the 1-0 win over Plymouth Argyle...

The highlight of our win against Plymouth didn’t happen during the game, but in the tunnel a few minutes after the final whistle.

It was a short but really uplifting video of Paul Cook passionately and excitedly celebrating an important three points, and shouting into the camera: “Nice to get a win, isn’t it?”

For me, what could be viewed as an insignificant, fleeting moment actually spoke volumes. At last we have a manager who is on the same wavelength as the thousands of loyal fans who love Ipswich Town Football Club.

It was so heartwarming to see how much Cook’s first win at Ipswich meant to him. I really believe he will have a brilliant relationship with supporters.

So important, and such a welcome contrast from the toxic atmosphere surrounding the latter stages of both Mick McCarthy’s and Paul Lambert’s spells at Portman Road.

I love his bubbly enthusiasm and positivity and, most of all, his honesty. He admits his team’s shortcomings and, thank goodness, has clearly watched the same game as the rest of us!

The game against Plymouth was typical of this Ipswich team, really. There were quite a few positives and also, inevitably, some negatives.

The good stuff included, obviously, moving into the play-off places, Cook’s first win, a swashbuckling opening 20 minutes, Troy Parrott’s first goal, a clean sheet and the return of veteran Cole Skuse after a year out with injury. More on him later.

The negatives were our failure once again to finish off a team when on top, and - need I say it? - more injuries.

At the start of the game, it looked for all the world as though Cook had performed some kind of overnight miracle. Here, at last, was the kind of Ipswich performance we have been longing to see.

Troy Parrott wheels away after scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Plymouth.

Troy Parrott wheels away after scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Plymouth. - Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwa

Fast moving, high pressing, creative, scaring the living daylights out of a Plymouth side who looked like a bunch of Sunday morning pub players.

Parrot accepted his gift, Kayden Jackson missed a one-on-one (again) and surely a big win was ours for the taking?

But we didn’t get the second goal, and Plymouth slowly picked themselves up from the canvas, and got themselves back into the game.

For the whole of the second half, they were the better team.

Our lack of finishing power is really worrying. Our goals scored column belongs nearer the relegation zone than the top six. Only once this season have we scored more than twice in a league game - the four we got at Blackpool.

The situation certainly hasn’t been helped by the enforced chopping and changing up front. All of our strikers have been missing for large chunks of the season.

Just as James Norwood is having a run of games, along comes an injury problem. He can’t play against Fleetwood on Tuesday for other reasons.

Flynn Downes receiving attention, ahead of going off with an injury.

Flynn Downes receiving attention, ahead of going off with an injury. - Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwa

Talking of injuries, seeing Flynn Downes forced off during the first half against Plymouth was so disappointing. After such a stop-start season, he was finally looking somewhere near his very effective best.

Downes is such an important player for us. His energy, combativeness and tigerish tackling is crucial. He wins the ball and uses it intelligently. Without him, with Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop in the engine room, we have no ball-winning ability.

So...step forward Cole Skuse! I think the veteran has a big part to play in the rest of this campaign. I know Skuse doesn’t exactly get the pulse racing, but he does such an important job.

Cole Skuse comes on the pitch as a second half substitute.

Cole Skuse comes on the pitch as a second half substitute. - Credit: Steve Waller www.stephenwa

He wins the ball through tackles and interceptions, keeps it simple, and sets up attacks. He won’t let us down.

So here we are, in the top six as we move into the run-in. Our performances are still far from perfect, but there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t stay there. Bluntly, you don’t have to be world beaters to do well in this low-quality division.

Our remaining games look far from frightening, and I’m confident Paul Cook will get more from the squad than Paul Lambert ever did.

I’m certainly not getting carried away, but I feel more optimistic about the future for our team than I have for a long time.

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