Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers
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Ipswich Town remain seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table following this afternoon’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
PAYING THE PENALTY
There had been little in this game for more than an hour.
Then Town gave their hosts the chance to open the scoring by conceding a penalty.
Callum Elder was left in a foot race with Adam Armstrong following Bradley Dack’s excellent through ball. The Leicester City loanee left-back appeared to be in poll position, but instead ran back across his opponent’s heels with arms flailing.
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Danny Graham coolly converted.
This was the third time in four league games that Town’s opponents have bagged their first goal of the game from the penalty spot.
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Jordan Spence’s aerial clash with Jordan Hugill provided Middlesbrough the chance to score at the Riverside just after Christmas, then Luke Chambers’ awkward collision with Tom Elliott led to Millwall equalising at Portman Road.
All three incidents have to go down in the ‘clumsy’ category.
Substitute striker Joe Nuttall scored with his first touch when tapping home Armstrong’s sweeping cross in the 74th minute. Elder was again caught out by a fine pass into the channel, this time by Elliott Bennett.
It meant that, for the 13th successive away league game, Town had conceded at least twice.
What makes this result hard to take is that mid-table Blackburn, who had extra-time exertion in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, looked a distinctly average mid-table side for the most part.
Tony Mowbray’s men had spells on top, and had always looked the more likely to score, but as the quality of the game dipped you sensed some frustration creeping in around Ewood Park.
Town never seem to be able to take advantage in such situations though.
Town had a big chance to break the deadlock in the 39th minute when Will Keane nicked the ball around keeper David Raya on the edge of the box. He could easily have taken the hit, gone down and won a penalty.
Instead he stayed on his feet, got held up on the byline and, due to support not arriving quickly enough, the chance fizzled out.
Towards the end of the game, substitute Teddy Bishop’s shot appeared to strike the stooping Bennett’s arm in the box following a moment of miscommunication at the back that left an empty net.
Town players barely appeared though.
TOO EARLY TO JUDGE
Alan Judge was thrown straight into the starting XI after his transfer from Brentford.
The Irishman made it clear this week that he had to leave the Bees as he was being asked to operate as a winger, which is not his position. He said his best role was as a No.10.
It therefore came as some surprise to see him operate on the flanks, starting on the right – as a direct replacement for Jack Lankester – and often swapping with Freddie Sears on the opposite side.
There were flashes of his creative ability, but also plenty of understandable signs of ring-rust. One thing is for sure, his whipped set-pieces have provided Town with some added weaponry.
Cole Skuse looked like a player reborn in the early days of Paul Lambert’s management. Then came a minor knee operation, seven games out and, since his return, he’s been nowhere near the same.
Just like in last weekend’s game against Rotherham he looked uncharacteristically off the pace and ponderous in possession. Several times in the first half he turned into danger or gave it away cheaply.
Him playing catch-up at a time when Town are trying to bed in several players also lacking match sharpness has not helped.
This new-look Blues side does look an upgrade. There were some confident periods of possession. Collin Quaner provided some neat touches up top and ran the channels well.
They are, however, going to take a little longer to gel and get fully up to speed. And time, unfortunately, is not a luxury Town have as the games rapidly begin to run out.
Up next... a trip to Aston Villa.