Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s penalty shootout defeat at Exeter City
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Ipswich Town exited the Carabao Cup courtesy of a penalty shootout defeat at League Two side Exeter City tonight. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.
With the scores tied after 90 engaging minutes, the game – under the competition’s new rules – went straight to penalties.
Luke Chambers won the toss and indicated he wanted the shootout to take place in front of the empty end that has been raised to the ground ahead of a new stand being built. The away fans were in that corner too.
Bartisz Biakowski saved the opening spot-kick, but Teddy Bishop saw the very next penalty saved. Luke Chambers and Kayden Jackson coolly converted for the Blues, Bialkowski came mighty close to keeping one out, then Trevoh Chalobah blasted miles wide. That left former Town winger Lee Martin to score the winning spot-kick for the League Two hosts.
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For the sixth time in eight seasons Town have exited the Carabao Cup to lower league opposition. They’ve now won just five of their last 25 matches in all cup competitions.
More importantly, the Blues’ search for their first win under new boss Paul Hurst goes on. Up next are games against Aston Villa (h), Derby (a), Sheffield Wednesday (a) and Norwich (h).
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They all count
Strikers can talk about contributing to the team as much as they like – we all know they thrive on goals. Kayden Jackson will therefore be hoping that the dubious goals committee don’t take this full debut goal away from him.
The £1.6m signing from Accrington Stanley turned on the after burners down the left and, after cutting inside, was clearly attempting a low cross from the byline. The ball somehow squirmed under keeper Christy Pym and into the back of the net to give Town a 37th minute lead.
Ipswich’s new No.9 led the line in a 4-1-4-1 system and was a willing runner throughout. The 24-year-old charged down defenders, constantly ran the channels and held the ball up well at times.
Leading 1-0 at the break was no less than the visitors deserved. Town had controlled possession and played some crisp football, albeit without ever really testing the goalkeeper.
Set-pieces and rising temperatures
For the third successive game of the Hurst era, Town conceded a goal from a set-piece.
Against Blackburn, a deep free-kick was nodded back into the danger area and converted. Against Rotherham, a crossed free-kick fell loose in the box and was converted.
This time, a low free-kick went through a crowded box, Biakowski stuck out a foot, the ball ballooned up in the air and former Town defender Troy Brown was left with the simple task of heading home on the goalline.
The equaliser had been coming. Exeter, livened up by three substitutions, had gradually been getting on top at the start of the second half. Town had lived dangerously on three occasions before the home breakthrough came just after the hour.
Temperatures rose as plenty of bookings were shown – including one for Town fitness coach Nathan Winder on the sidelines. Then Jordan Spence appeared to get away with a clear stamp on Craig Woodman right under the nose of the fourth official.
Both sides then really went for it in the closing stages. Both keepers made smart saves. And then, agonisingly, the ball wouldn’t quite fall for Bishop in the box right at the death after Jon Nolan’s shot had been parried.
It was good to see Bishop and Danny Rowe get back on the field following lengthy lay-offs – both introduced as second half substitutes.
Bishop has been out since Boxing Day last year with a hamstring problem, while Rowe has been sidelined with an ankle injury sustained towards the end of his loan spell at Lincoln.
The duo were understandably a little ring-rusty, but both appeared to have full confidence in their bodies. Neither shirked a challenge.
Of Hurst’s nine summer signings, Tayo Edun was perhaps the one that people questioned most. Why loan in another young midfielder when you have Andre Dozzell, Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes already on the books? Is he really that much better than the Blues’ homegrown trio?
Well the Fulham starlet very much strengthened his case with an eye-catching full debut for the Blues.
The 20-year-old, operating in the middle alongside Nolan, popped up here, there and everywhere. And it was movement that was clever rather than frenetic.
He has a lovely low centre of gravity and, at times, the ball seemed glued to his boots. His passing was incisive. Here’s a player who has that lovely knack of seeing the picture.
A case in point was his role for Town’s opener. It was him who danced his way out of a tight spot in midfield before sending Jackson scampering away into space down the left.
Chalobah again operated in the deepest midfield role. The teenage Chelsea loanee is raw, and prone to the odd mistake, but he certainly has an aura about him. His dipping volley from the edge of the ‘D’ in the first half was inches away from being a goal of the season contender. Like Edun, he always wanted the ball.
Completing the midfield trio was Nolan. He too looks a very neat and tidy footballer who will score goals.
With Bishop back in the picture, Hurst is certainly going to be facing a selection headache when it comes to midfield.
Does Cole Skuse come back into the team for the visit of Aston Villa on Saturday? Is his place nailed on anymore? Loan departures for Dozzell, Nydam and Downes are certainly looking more likely. If they are not going to play here, then you’d have to say that’s probably the best thing both for players and club.