Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley
Ipswich Town’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end with a 2-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley this lunchtime. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
UNBEATEN RUN ENDS
Realistically, Town were never going to go the whole season unbeaten. Few teams in history, at any level, have managed that.
This was a bitterly disappointing way for the run to end though. In truth, it was a performance which brought back horrible memories of last season.
The Blues kept going long even though they didn't have the personnel to make it stick in final third. They lacked energy and intensity in midfield. They repeatedly failed to stop crosses, particularly down their left side, while the marking was often slack in the box.
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Colby Bishop - signed from non-league side Leamington this summer - struck twice in the first half to take his tally for the season to six.
The big striker stole in at the far post to head home the 17th minute opener, a long arching Sam Finley cross not dealt with by three centre-backs and leaving Gwion Edwards isolated against two men.
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Bishop then dusted himself down following a clumsy Nsiala foul to emphatically fire a 41st minute penalty beyond the dive of Tomas Holy.
The damage could and should have been greater given Offrande Zanzala missed a gilt-edged headed chance at 1-0.
Lambert made a half-time reshuffle. Nsiala and Andre Dozzell were replaced by Armando Dobra and Danny Rowe. The 3-5-2 system was ditched for 4-4-2. Town improved, but only slightly. A comeback never looked on.
Accrington kept their first home clean sheet since January, the month in which they dumped the Blues out of the FA Cup.
Town's travelling army of 1,000 fans must have been left wondering quite why they'd made a 500-mile round trip for a Sunday lunchtime kick-off.
DON'T BLAME REF
Yes, some big calls went against Ipswich, but that's not why they lost this game.
Alan Judge's bundled effort was cleared off the line in the first half. No doubt about that one.
There is more of a question mark about whether Luke Woolfenden's stabbed effort crossed the line in the second half, with the angle of the replays/pictures far from conclusive.
Sean McConville should definitely have been dismissed for a horrible two-footed, studs up lunge at Gwion Edwards. He got the ball but it was reckless and well out of control.
There can be little complaint about Armando Dobra's dismissal towards the end though after the teenager, on for his league debut, threw a frustrated elbow at Ross Sykes in an attempt to become disentangled. Sykes reacted with a shove and both were given their marching orders.
KEY QUARTET MISSING
This game highlighted just how important Town's missing quintet are.
They lacked James Norwood's leadership and physical presence up top. They lacked Flynn Downes' tenacity in midfield. They lacked James Wilson's calmness and left-footed balance at the back. They lacked Kane Vincent-Young's dynamism on the right.
In the absence of Wilson, serving a one game ban for his red card at Fleetwood, Nsiala was handed his first league appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in pre-season.
The centre-back looked more than a little ring-rusty. His foul on Bishop for the penalty was clumsy, barging into the striker late after the ball had bounced in the box. He was subbed at the break.
In the absence of Downes (hip injury suffered on England U20s duty), Dozzell was handed a rare start. He did little to change the school of thought that he is too much of a luxury player in midfield was also subbed at the break.
Edwards does not look a wing-back. He certainly does not look a right-back (where he ended up after the half-time reshuffle).
Alan Judge is not a striker. He cut a frustrated figure at times as the ball often went long.
'CURSES' STRIKE AGAIN
That's now 21 games without a win off the back of an international break.
And it's 15 games without a win in front of the live television cameras.
Town have only played Accrington twice in their history, but both times they have come away from the Wham Stadium with their tails between their legs. This could be a bogey side in the making.
Superstitious nonsense? Of course. It won't stop some people fearing the worst if the Blues choose to postpone their game at Oxford United when the next international weekend comes along though. They'll host Blackpool after that.
SHOWS GOES ON
Town remain top of the League One table with a game in hand on most. We'd have all taken that before a ball was kicked.
Lambert's men showed remarkable mental strength to ditch the losing habit off the back of last season. Now they need to show mental strength again to quickly bounce back from their first set-back of the campaign.
The games come thick and fast in November.
Up next is the visit of Rotherham on Wednesday night, followed by the short trip to struggling Southend on Saturday.