Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup
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Ipswich Town crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle yet again courtesy of a 1-0 defeat at League One side Accrington Stanley this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
A NEW LOW
Accrington Stanley, who are they? The team that inflicted yet more FA Cup misery – actually, scrap that, just misery – on Ipswich Town.
For the ninth successive season, the Blues have been dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle. That’s now 13 games without a victory in the world famous competition. It’s the fourth time they’ve succumbed to lower league opposition.
That unwanted run in the tournament is not guaranteed to stretch to a decade, but only because the Blues are likely to be starting in the first round come November.
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Talk about a wake up call regarding just how tough life in League One could be for the Championship’s rock-bottom side.
For context, Stanley are playing in the third-tier for the first time in their history. They sold two of their best players to Ipswich following promotion. They had lost their previous two games 3-0 and 4-0 and sit mid-table.
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Despite the seven changes, this was not a ‘weakened’ Town team. In fact, it actually had more experience than the side which lost 3-2 to Millwall on New Year’s Day.
The bookies were ultimately still right to make Accrington favourites though.
What a damning indictment of where Ipswich Town Football Club is at.
GOT WHAT DESERVED
Town’s set-piece Achilles heel struck again.
Jordan Spence gave away a needless foul when bundling into his man late down the right. Sean McConville dusted himself down, swung in the free-kick, Ben Richards-Everton won the far post header and Billy Kee was able to nod home from on the goalline.
A Spence error compounded by slack marking following the dead ball delivery for the second game in a row.
There’s been a lot of talk, justified mainly, about Ipswich playing well and not getting many breaks since Paul Lambert’s arrival.
Today you could make no argument that they deserved any more. Only one side appeared to really want this.
Accrington dominated the first half. Toto Nsiala made two big blocks, Bartosz Bialkowski three solid stops and Jordan Clark put a header narrowly wide in the first half.
Town, by contrast, had just two shots on goal come the break. Jon Nolan firing miles over and Freddie Sears’ angled effort comfortably held in the latter stages.
The Blues simply couldn’t make the ball stick in the final third, with Kayden Jackson the lone striker against his former club.
It was better after the restart, but Town were largely restricted to long-range efforts and then were hit with the set-piece sucker punch.
FREDDIE’S STOPPED FIRING
For a long time in this game, the closest Town came to scoring was when Richards-Everton’s header home almost caught out the keeper.
When some good chances were finally carved open, Freddie Sears – just like against Milwall – twice fluffed his lines.
In the 81st minute he looked destined to score following Harrison’s square pass, but he fired his shot too close to keeper Connor Ripley from little more than six yards out and the ball defected behind.
Then, in the final minute, he dragged an effort across the face of goal after seeing an initial shot blocked by Ross Sykes.
Sears, the man who scored four goals in Lambert’s first five games, needs to find his shooting boots again.
Young players can be fearless. They can also be naïve.
Flynn Downes proved that when reacting to a provocative tap on the chin with a hefty shove into the chest/neck of Sam Finley in the 26th minute. It was right under the nose of the referee and he was lucky to escape with a booking.
That caution took the edge off of Town’s only real bit of tenacity in the middle of the park. Downes was replaced by Teddy Bishop at the break and the Blues were left with a lightweight midfield trio of Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Bishop.
Town lack experience. They lack leaders. They lack nous.
Callum Elder started at left-back. The Leicester City loanee did come away from his debut with some credit. There were some neat touches, crisp passes and pieces of positive intent.
Striker Will Keane stepped off the bench in the 66th minute. There were flashes of neat footwork but, just as before when Kayden Jackson led the line, Town struggled to make the ball stick.
It was only when Ellis Harrison came on the closing stages that the Blues had any sort of forward presence.
Lambert is clear he doesn’t want to play long. Today was maybe a day where he had to soften those principles.