Ipswich Town’s latest FA Cup disaster produced few positives... but Hyam’s return was one
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
If there was one positive to take from Ipswich Town’s latest FA Cup disaster, it was the performance of returning midfielder Luke Hyam.
The academy product’s last start for the Blues came on the final day of the 2015/16 season away at Derby County and, after eight minutes as a substitute at Fulham on Tuesday night, he was thrown in from the start against the Blades.
He lasted an hour and will certainly be feeling the full effects of that this morning, but simply seeing him in Ipswich Town blue is a positive.
It was one of very few, if any, as the Blues contrived to fail to win an FA Cup game once again, with their last success in the competition coming all the way back in 2010. They are now 13 games without a win in a competition they won 40 years ago, with that record never really looking in danger of ending as a disjointed display ended without a single shot on target.
But for Hyam, just as his eight-minute cameo at Fulham in a 4-1 defeat was a major boost on a bad night for the Blues, the work he put in before being withdrawn on 61 minutes of another disappointing afternoon for his club should be seen as a major achievement.
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In the lead up to the game he vowed to be his usual ‘full-blooded’ self on his return to the side and that was in evidence throughout.
Sure he showed moments of rust as he gave the ball away cheaply, was beaten for pace and turned by opponents, but his display is heartening not just for him, but for an Ipswich side woefully short on midfield options.
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After just three minutes he slid into a challenge on the touchline and won the ball.
Another big challenge soon followed as it became clear the Ipswich-born midfielder had lost none of his edge despite his time on the sidelines.
His game is not and never has been overly expansive, but he plays his part in Town’s forward movements and had an effort on goal which appeared to be deflected over the top. Luke Chambers certainly thought so, with the Town skipper receiving a yellow card for his protestations.
Hyam’s next involvement was to lose the ball under pressure on the edge of the Town area, with former Ipswich youth player Caolan Lavery the man to profit as his shot was saved by Bartosz Bialkowski.
He recovered, though, and threw in a block down the right touchline to halt a United break just two minutes later.
His over-excitement got the better of his at times as, after two good tackles he gave the ball away in midfield during the same phase of play and would have been pleased to see Chris Basham’s shot fly wide after the Blades midfielder had turned him in the Ipswich box.
This start surely came sooner than it was supposed to and came about due to ever-thinning midfield numbers, but for Hyam and Ipswich it was a positive experience on a day lacking much to be cheerful about.