Stu says: Six observations as Sears and Ward feature in Under-23s win against Palace

Barry Cotter celebrates his goal as Town U23s beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Playford Road Photo: ROSS H

Barry Cotter celebrates his goal as Town U23s beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in an Under-23s game at Playford Road yesterday afternoon. STUART WATSON reports.

Grant Ward pictured duringTown U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS

Grant Ward pictured duringTown U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

BOOMER FROM BARRY

Barry Cotter's goal was one worthy of winning any game.

The Irishman met Idris El Mizouni's corner on the run in the box and slammed a first time volley into the top corner (72).

Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg's young guns had trailed to an early low strike from Jason Lokilo, only to equalise through Armando Dobra's alert 14th minute finish and subsequently spend long periods of the game on the front foot.

Freddie Sears in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Phot

Freddie Sears in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant


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It was a strong team that faced a young Palace outfit at Playford Road. Of the starting XI, only one - Corrie Ndaba - haven't yet featured for the first team.

TOWN (4-3-3): Przybek; Ward, McGavin, Ndaba, Cotter; Hughes (Brown); El Mizouni, Dobra; Morris, Folami, Sears (Smith).

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ANOTHER STEP FOR SEARS

Ben Morris on the ball during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace Photo: ROSS HALLS

Ben Morris on the ball during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

This match was another step towards a first team return for Freddie Sears.

Having made his long-awaited comeback with a 45 minute outing at Millwall last Monday, the front man was given just over an hour here.

Playing on the left side of a front three, the 30-year-old was often on the periphery. There were some neat touches and movement though, including a crowd-pleasing nutmeg.

At the very end of the first half he saw a golden one-on-one chance saved by the legs of the keeper, while soon after the restart he saw an angled effort slam into the side-netting.

Tommy Hughes on the ball during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace Photo: ROSS HALLS

Tommy Hughes on the ball during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Sears also provided a cross which El Mizouni headed against the crossbar before being replaced by Tommy Smith.

WARD AT RIGHT-BACK

Grant Ward was again given an outing as a trialist.

Brett McGavin in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Phot

Brett McGavin in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Blues boss Paul Lambert insists the club are simply honouring their duty to get the 25-year-old fit again following his release back in the summer.

Nevertheless, his involvement as a right-back was interesting given Kane Vincent-Young's injury has left the first team a little short of options in that area.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of the knee ligament injury he suffered in a Boxing Day defeat at QPR, the former Tottenham youngster played the full match.

After an assured opening period he started to press on more after the break and provided a couple of really dangerous crosses on the overlap.

Ben Morris pictured during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS

Ben Morris pictured during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

FURTHERING REPUTATIONS

Brett McGavin did his growing reputation no harm with another understatedly classy display.

Asked to play centre-back, he read the game well to make several important interventions in the box and used the ball intelligently before eventually moving back into his natural role as sitting midfielder. The Cole Skuse comparisons continue.

Armando Dobra in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Phot

Armando Dobra in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Goalkeeper Adam Przybek, the star of Town's recent penalty shootout triumph at Peterborough in the EFL Trophy, made a couple of smart stops and was quickly off his line on several occasions.

COMEBACK KIDS

Sears and Ward were not the only two coming back from long-term injuries.

Grant Ward in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo:

Grant Ward in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Ben Folami (ruptured Achilles), Ben Morris (cruciate knee ligament) and Tommy Hughes (broken leg) are all at different stages of their recoveries from the set-backs which virtually wiped out their 2018/19 campaigns.

Folami was a willing runner playing as the central striker in a 4-3-3 system. It was his pass which led to Dobra's opener, his towering flick-on which led to Sears' big chance, while the young Australian international also forced the keeper into a smart save with a rising shot.

Morris, who has clearly spent plenty of time in the gym during his time off the grass, provided a threat with some direct running down the right. It was his fantastic low cross which led to Sears second opening.

Hughes showed his versatility. The 18-year-old, always busy, played most of the game as the holding midfielder before having a spell as the central striker.

Freddie Sears pictured during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HA

Freddie Sears pictured during Town U23s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

LOANS LIKELY

El Mizouni and Armando Dobra operated as Town's livewire advanced central midfield pair.

Both possess close ball control and the ability to beat a man. Both, you would imagine, would benefit from a loan spell in the New Year - especially if Ipswich exit the EFL Trophy before the end of January.

Adam Przybek in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo

Adam Przybek in action for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Dobra was in the right place at the right time to tuck home the equaliser after a neat interchange ended with a kind ricochet into his path.

The diminutive Albanian youth international dragged Town up the field with some driving runs and, again showing his competitive edge, picked up a booking for a tug.

El Mizouni has a more upright running style. The French-born Tunisian youth player twists and turns before looking to play a positive pass. It was his corner which was converted, while a carbon copy delivery created another Cotter chance.

Freddie Sears on the ball for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Ph

Freddie Sears on the ball for Town U23s during their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Playford Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

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