Stu says: Six observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 win against Crawley Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town beat Crawley Town 1-0, at East Grinstead Town, in their latest pre-season friendly last night. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.
Hurst pulled no punches following a listless display from his team in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at newly-promoted National League side Braintree Town.
His stinging words had the desired impact as the Blues produced a much, much better performance.
Town played with intensity from the off and scored with less than six minutes on the clock as Grant Ward calmly finished following Martyn Waghorn’s defence-splitting reverse pass.
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Dean Gerken made a reaction save from Reece Greco-Cox’s close-range header soon afterwards, but it was the Blues who went on to completely control the first half.
Waghorn fired a difficult chance over on the run following Andre Dozzell’s raking pass and Tristan Nydam’s low cross.
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Town’s 16-goal top-scorer of 2017/18 then had two more openings towards the end of the period when chipping wide after beating the on-rushing keeper to the ball and seeing a fierce low attempt blocked on the line.
Chances at either end were at a premium after the restart, but the Blues retained a calm control of the game and never looked like letting their guard down.
TEAM & SYSTEM
There were only three changes to the team following a day to forget in Essex.
Teenage trio Luke Woolfenden, Tristan Nydam and Dozzell replaced Josh Emmanuel, Flynn Downes and Jordan Roberts respectively.
It was still a 4-2-3-1 formation, though there was a slight rejig in terms of who played where.
Jordan Spence, after a poor game at centre-half, was moved back to his preferred role of right-back.
Waghorn played as the central striker rather than the link-up man.
And the wingers switched flanks, with Ward on the left and Freddie Sears on the right.
Nydam played just off Waghorn, with Dozzell a deep-lying playmaker alongside defensive shield Cole Skuse.
Interestingly, Hurst only named a six-man bench.
Bartosz Bialkowski, Jonas Knudsen (extended leave after World Cup), Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop. Tom Adeyemi (not yet match fit) and Joe Garner (knock) are all still unavailable
Yet a string of youngsters who did get some game time at Cressing Road, the likes of Barry Cotter, Corrie Ndaba, Pat Webber, Brett McGavin and Conor McKendry, were all left at home.
Under previous boss Mick McCarthy we’d still have been watching mix and match teams at this stage of pre-season. Not so this summer.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Spence, Woolfenden, Chambers, Kenlock (Emmanuel 78); Skuse, Dozzell (Downes 46); Sears, Nydam (Roberts 78), Ward (Folami 86); Waghorn (Edwards 46).
Unused sub: Wright.
Gwion Edwards formally completed his £700k switch from League One side Peterborough United yesterday morning and he went straight into the squad to face one of his former employers.
The Welsh winger came on at half-time and immediately showcased what he himself has said he is all about; ‘pace, running with the ball, creating and scoring’.
Playing on the right, his first thought was always to drive at his full-back, twisting and turning in an attempt to open up an angle to cross or shoot. When he did manage either, the contact on the ball was crisp and true.
You could start to see the identity of a Hurst side beginning to emerge in this leafy corner of Sussex, the game taking place at the home of East Grinstead Town due to the fact Crawley’s ground is undergoing major renovations.
Quick passes over the top that got the defence turning and facing their own goal. Direct at times, yes, but low, flighted balls rather than aimless high punts.
Evidence of a high press too. It was noticeable how advanced the natural position of full-backs Spence and Myles Kenlock was. When one went, so did the others. Skuse often dropped back to make it a back three in order to facilitate that.
But the most refreshing thing of all was to see the number of men Town gambling on getting in the box when the right opportunities presented themselves.
Watching Town up close in such a modest setting makes you realise just how much of leader Luke Chambers is on the field.
The Blues’ skipper never stops talking throughout the game, whether it is to cajole, encourage, or berate his team-mates or officials.
Some have questioned whether the stalwart will be an automatic pick under Hurst. One thing is for sure, no-one else in this squad could fill that vocal void. And that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Freddie Sears has now started the first two friendlies on the flanks – the left at Braintree and the right against Crawley – before ending both matches as a central striker.
It’s hard to see quite where he is going to fit in as the Hurst system emerges.
Is he one of the flying wingers that takes his man on at every opportunity? Probably not. Is he the central striker that can make the ball stick and attack dangerous crosses? That’s not his forte either.
Blues fans are willing the former Colchester United man to rediscover his mojo under a new manager. Perhaps his best opportunity to do so will be as an impact sub, coming on as a strike partner when a Plan B is required.