Squeaky bum time – Six things we learned from Ipswich Town’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff
Ipswich Town are now just five points above the Championship relegation zone following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff. Here’s what we learnt from the game.
Town rode an early storm, settled nicely and, after Grant Ward missed a gilt-edged chance, took the lead when Luke Chambers expertly headed home Tom Lawrence’s free-kick delivery (23). Cardiff drew level in simple fashion after Sean Morrison headed Jazz Richards’ cross down and Kenneth Zohore adjusted well to net a crisp low volley (36). Junior Hoilett struck the post just before the break.
Zohore flicked on a long ball, ran on to Hoilett’s backheel and slammed home (50) to crush Town’s fragile confidence. Kadeem Harris blazed past Cole Skuse to set up Joe Bennett for the killer third (63) and, from there, Cardiff began to enjoy themselves.
Green eyes on Bluebirds
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Cardiff City had everything that Town are badly lacking.
The trio of Harris, Craig Noone and Hoilett – playing on the left, right and No.10 role respectively – were all quick, tricky and direct. Town’s Achilles heel has long been defending against pace and that weakness was once again exposed. Harris, who was signed from Wycombe in 2012 and is out of contract in the summer, caused panic every time he got the ball.
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Lone front man Zohore is big, strong and all he touches turns to goals at the moment. The Danish striker, 23, has now netted nine times in his last 10 games. Seeing him bully Christophe Berra was a painful reminder of just how much the Blues miss the physical presence of Daryl Murphy up top. The fact he cost around £1m to recruit from Danish side KV Kortrijk last summer gives hope that Town can replace their former talisman within budget.
Why take off Tommy?
Tommy Smith returned to the team, for his second start post back surgery, and looked remarkably composed on the left side of a back three in the first half – a role he has played a lot for New Zealand. The 26-year-old’s desire to pass the ball out the back was at the heart of Town’s best spell of the game midway through the first half.
He may still be building his fitness, but it seemed harsh that he was the one sacrificed when Mick McCarthy switched to a 4-4-2 system at the break.
Confidence is low
The change in body language of the Town players was noticeable after Cardiff’s second goal.
Shoulders slumped and the belief seemed to visibly drain out of them.
Town never look like being able to strange the life out of a game after going in front (that’s 13 points dropped from winning positions since the start of February).
For all the talk abut formations and team balance, a lot of the problem is psychological. When you are in a slump, and there’s a tangible feeling of doom and gloom surrounding the club, it can be hard to block all that out.
Lawrence and McGoldrick doesn’t work
Having two No.10 type players up top isn’t working.
With Cole Skuse a backwards passer, Toumani Diagouraga off the pace and Grant Ward a ball carrier, David McGoldrick drops ridiculously deep in an attempt to pull the strings. He doesn’t have the pace to play on the last shoulder and would be far better suited playing as part of a midfield three or even at the tip of a diamond in a 4-4-2.
Likewise, Tom Lawrence is more dangerous facing the opposition goal and running at people – be that from wide or in a free role.
It was noticeable how the Blues carried more of a goal threat after Brett Pitman came on. He was in the right place at the right time twice at the end, but saw efforts brilliantly blocked by central defensive duo Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison.
Ipswich haven’t scored more than a goal in a game for eight matches now. They need their most natural finisher on the field more.
Danny looked decent
It was a pretty tough situation for Danny Rowe to make his Town debut – a 79th minute substitute with the team 3-1 down away from home – but the 25-year-old still managed to catch the eye. The direct winger got on the ball within seconds and tried to make things happen. It was an encouraging first glimpse of the man Town paid National League side Macclesfield £100k for in January.
Squeaky bum time
Bristol City and Wolves produced shock wins against Huddersfield and Fulham respectively. Blackburn are now unbeaten in seven under Tony Mowbray, Nottingham Forest grabbed a late leveller against rivals Derby, while Birmingham ground out a goalless draw with Newcastle. It’s just as well Burton collapsed from 3-1 up to lose 5-3 at home to Brentford. Town are slipping as others pick up.