North Stander: Has everyone forgotten Sears is a striker?
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt gives his take on the Blues in his latest column, covering the win over Accrington, the club’s striker shortage and the impressive back line.
I would love to know Freddie Sears’ thoughts when he saw Paul Lambert’s comment after Town’s victory over Accrington: “Considering we had no strikers, it was an incredible win.”
Not quite the case, Mr. Lambert. We did have a proven goal scorer on the pitch - and his name is Sears. Has everyone forgotten that Freddie is a striker? Or has he spent so long ploughing up and down the left wing that his earlier career has been erased from history?
I blame Mick McCarthy, who “converted” Sears into a sort of left winger/left midfield/left wing-back, and was no doubt delighted to see him doing the “ugly” things like tracking back, and blocking crosses.
For me, that move was a mistake, and a waste of Freddie’s precious goalscoring ability. Do you remember the player we bought from Colchester early in 2015? He was full of goals. I recall a couple he scored in front of the North Stand, using his pace to finish one-on-one with the keeper.
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Of course, his recent goalscoring record has been pretty woeful, simply because he has been spending his time stuck out on the left wing. Not surprisingly, on the rare occasions when he does get chances, his finishing looks rather rusty. But I have no doubt it could be restored.
Now we are in the midst of a striker crisis, surely it’s the right time to play Freddie “up top,” as he did - rather belatedly - against Accrington. He set up Gwion Edwards for the first goal, and scored the second himself, coolly dinking the ball over the keeper. Is that good enough to convince you, Mr. Lambert? We shall see...
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Moving on. Let’s recognise the change Lambert made at half-time, changing round the front three. After that, we totally dominated a decent Accrington side, and once we’d scored the result was never in doubt.
There’s a load for us to celebrate at the moment. Top of the table, scored most goals in the division, best goal difference, and Edwards is League One’s top scorer.
This is, apparently, our best start to a season since the legendary 1980-81 campaign. Of course that’s good to know, but that’s where any comparisons between then and now should come to a shuddering halt.
In 1980-81, Ipswich were the best team in Europe, coming so close to three major trophies before having to settle for “just” the UEFA Cup. That team didn’t lose until the 15th game of the season. I’d settle for that this time around!
Quite rightly, Edwards is receiving lots of plaudits at the moment. He really is on fire. Another really high quality goal against Accrington demonstrated just how high his confidence is. His pace really does terrify defenders at this level.
Any successful team needs a solid defence, and conceding only twice in six games really has given us a good platform. As I’ve said before, we’ve achieved this with some surprising personnel.
Last season, I really thought Toto Nsiala’s Ipswich career was over. He looked like an accident waiting to happen. This season, he’s been a revelation - full of brave blocks and tackles, and also making far fewer mistakes.
But it’s Toto’s central defensive partner, James Wilson, who I want to focus on. I will admit to being rather underwhelmed when Wilson joined us. After all, here was a defender who Lincoln didn’t want. Hardly an arrival to get the pulse racing!
But, in a calm, composed way, he is proving to be Mr. Reliable. He does his work in such an understated way that it’s easy to miss his contribution. But he is so effective. All in all, it looks as though Luke Woolfenden and loanee Mark McGuinness will have to be content with warming the bench for a bit longer.
It is, of course, still very early days. Only six games gone, and lots of tough ones to come. We now have a really difficult run and we’ll know a lot more about our promotion credentials in a month’s time.
No-one is getting carried away, but we should all be quietly encouraged by our terrific start, which has come despite a lengthy injury list. Long may it continue...