Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday
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Ipswich Town lost 2-1 at Sheffield Wednesday yesterday afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.
Test of patience
A new manager, a completely new style of play and whole set of new untested players (eight of the 10 outfield starters today) were summer signings.
We knew some patience would be required, but it’s impossible not have some slight concerns given the Blues find themselves rock-bottom of the table and out of the cup just six games into the season.
Four days after a 10-game, 12-year unbeaten record at Derby ended, Town saw a nine-game, 11-year undefeated run at Hillsborough finish.
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Yes, there was a ridiculous red card at 1-1 (more on that later). Yes, this was a match the Blues were far from outplayed in. Yet again, however, despite some bright spells, they lacked a killer instinct at both ends of the field.
Up next… the visit of Norwich City (also struggling) followed by a two-week international break to stew on things.
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A worrying theme is developing in terms of goals conceded.
It was all too easy for Lucas Joao to take a step back from Trevoh Chalobah at the far post and head home Barry Bannan’s deep corner delivery in the 16th minute. Everyone else seemed to have been drawn to towering striker Atdhe Nuhiu at the near post.
The 77th minute winner came from a corner too. Bartosz Bialkowski, who been far from his imperious best since signing a new deal post World Cup, got caught under the flight of Bannan’s delivery, Joao headed against the post and then nodded home the rebound in a crowded box. It didn’t help that Toto Nsiala was unfairly off the field by then.
It means that seven of the nine goals Town have leaked at the start of the Paul Hurst era have come either directly or indirectly from set-pieces.
At the other end, dead ball deliveries – primarily taken by Tayo Edun – were generally poor.
As the World Cup showed us this summer, set-pieces are crucial. They were a major strength of Shrewsbury’s under Hurst’s management last season. Now, with a blank week until the East Anglian derby at Portman Road, Town will need to work on them on the training field.
Rub of the green
They say luck evens itself in football over the course of the season.
Town lost 2-0 at Derby in midweek courtesy of two deflected strikes, but got some instant karma with their 40th minute equaliser at Hillsborough.
Gwion Edwards’ deep cross took a deflection and looped up into the air. Edun and Luke Chambers both flicked on headers, Wednesday players hesitated due to Ellis Harrison walking back from an offside position and Nsiala nodded home expertly.
Boos rang around the ground when the fans were shown a replay on the big screen.
It changed the momentum of the game as Town finished the half strongly. Nsiala saw a close-range header blocked on the line after a corner was flicked on, while Cameron Dawson produced a fine low save to deny Harrison’s crisp effort from the edge of the box.
Following a scrappy start to the second half, Town found themselves reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes to go.
Edun’s dismissal for two yellow cards against Aston Villa was controversial last weekend, but referee Jeremy Simpson showing Nsiala a straight red here was beyond comprehension.
The Town centre-back wins the ball ahead of Fernando Forestieri firmly and fairly around 30 yards from goal. It’s one footed, he gets there with plenty of time, it’s not even a foul. And yet the man in black, perhaps influenced by the Owls’ Italian substitute striker jumping so high out the way, was quick to give the marching orders and Wednesday’s winner came moments later.
The Blues will surely lodge – and win – an appeal.
Square pegs in round holes. That was a criticism regularly levelled at former Blues boss Mick McCarthy, with the likes of Luke Chambers and Freddie Sears regularly played out of position.
It’s only fair, therefore, to point out that there has been some of that already under Hurst.
The left wing role has been the position in which players are being crow-barred in. Sears, Edun and Grant Ward – all of whom prefer operating through the middle – have all given it a go.
Today, striker Ellis Harrison was given the task out on that flank as Kayden Jackson led the line in a 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3 system.
Harrison hustled and bustled, tried his best, but it’s a role that doesn’t fully play to his strengths.
Don’t be surprised to see a left-winger arrive on loan before Friday’s deadline.