Seven things we learned from Ipswich Town’s 5-0 pre-season win at Drogheda United

Freddie Sears puts Ipswich Town 2-0 up. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Freddie Sears puts Ipswich Town 2-0 up. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne - Credit: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ipswich Town kickstarted their pre-season campaign with a 5-0 win at Irish side Drogheda United yesterday. STUART WATSON analyses the display at United Park.

Ipswich Town's Brett Pitman celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Conor McKendry. Photo

Ipswich Town's Brett Pitman celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Conor McKendry. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne - Credit: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Key absentees

Tommy Smith, Emyr Huws and David McGoldrick have all been given an extended summer break due to their recent international action, while Andre Dozzell is currently away with England at the European Under-19 Championships in Georgia.

New signings Bersant Celina and Tom Adeyemi were present at United Park, but neither got game time. Mick McCarthy explained: “They’ve not trained enough. Bersant was poorly for three days, but he wasn’t going to be involved anyway.”

Skipper Luke Chambers (recently had his tonsils out) and Adam Webster (ankle) sat out purely through precaution, while Luke Hyam stayed at home to continue his rehab on a long-term ankle injury. Kevin Bru has been told he can find a new club.

Ipswich's Freddie Sears celebrates scoring their third goal of the game with Conor McKendry and Gran

Ipswich's Freddie Sears celebrates scoring their third goal of the game with Conor McKendry and Grant Ward. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne - Credit: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne


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First half: Gerken; Emmanuel, Taylor, Webber, Kenlock; Ward, Skuse (cpt), McDonnell, McKendry; Sears, Pitman.

Second half: Bialkowski; Spence, Fowler, Knudsen (cpt), Nydam; Rowe, Bishop, Downes, Morris; Garner, Moore (McKendry 81).

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Opposition

Ipswich Town's Danny Rowe in action against Drogheda. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ipswich Town's Danny Rowe in action against Drogheda. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne - Credit: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Irish season is still in session and Drogheda United are bottom of the top-flight following an 11-game winless streak. They’d lost 2-0 at home to Finn Harps on Friday night and a couple of the those who featured in that game were asked to play again less than 24 hours later. The rest of the line-up was made up of youth and trialists. It’s fair to say the opposition wasn’t much cop.

Still, you can only beat what’s in front of you and Ipswich produced a professional display. Town started with a decent tempo, took their chances and keepers Dean Gerken and Bartosz Bialkowski may as well have been paying spectators. It’s understandable that the foot came off the gas towards the end with no real competitive juices flowing.

Five goals equals the tally from all five friendlies in 2016.

Brett Pitman

Midfielder Flynn Downes in action for Ipswich Town. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Midfielder Flynn Downes in action for Ipswich Town. Photo: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne - Credit: �INPHO/Ryan Byrne

He’s been described as the club’s ‘best finisher’ by manager Mick McCarthy, but the man who ended the 2015/16 campaign as Town’s leading scorer was restricted to just 13 league starts last season and is understood to be on the transfer list.

In his 45 minutes the ex-Bournemouth man broke the deadlock with a wonderful curling effort into the top corner from the edge of the box and provided two fine assists for strike partner Freddie Sears, the first a through ball from deep and the second a neat one-two in the box. A deft flick-on should have brought Sears another goal too. It was a reminder that the clever link-up player has been mis-used as a target man.

Freddie Sears

Played on the last shoulder of the defence throughout and repeatedly beat a dodgy offside trap. He profited twice, clipping home an angled one-one-one effort and smashing home from close-range, but should have had more. Twice more he raced clear only to be denied by the keeper’s legs. A prolonged spell back in his favoured front role will see his confidence in front of goal return.

Formation

It looks as though McCarthy is abandoning the wing-back experiment and returning to his favoured 4-4-2.

One player who could really benefit from that is Danny Rowe. The £100k January recruit from non-league side Macclesfield showed plenty of promise when called upon at the back end of 2016/17 and again caught the eye on Saturday with his direct running, trickery and technique.

Garner’s off the mark

Town’s tempo, understandably, dropped in the second half. New boy Joe Garner showed some of his trademark hustle and bustle though and will have been pleased to have bagged his first goal in a Blues shirt, smashing home an angled near post finish to wrap up the win.

Kids

Flynn Downes is an aggressive central midfielder who loves to get stuck in. Mick McCarthy has repeatedly name-checked him and insisted the 18-year-old from Essex has a part to play this season. Mind you, he said the same about James Blanchfield this time last year and that never transpired.

Diminutive Northern Irish youth international winger Conor McKendry was lively, Pat Webber was composed at centre-back, while the versatile and well-rounded Tristan Nydam filled in well at left-back. Midfielder Adam McDonnell, now 20, gave the ball away cheaply on more than one occasion and must improve if this is to finally be his breakthrough year.

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