Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City
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Ipswich Town drew 1-1 at play-off chasing Bristol City this evening. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Four days after a heartening 1-1 draw at West Brom, arguably the best performance of the season, Paul Lambert made five changes to his starting line-up.
There will have been an element of standard squad rotation in the middle of a busy week, protecting the likes of Teddy Bishop given his injury history.
There was also an element of wanting to take a look at few players he hasn’t seen much of in what is effectively an extended pre-season for League One.
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Josh Emmanuel, sent back from a loan spell at Shrewsbury in January, made his first Town appearance since the back end of the 2016/17 season.
Toto Nsiala, Andre Dozzell and Kayden Jackson were also handed rare league starts.
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There was just one loan player in the side (Trevoh Chalobah), with three homegrown players, two Mick McCarthy stalwarts, four Paul Hurst signings and two Lambert recruits making up the XI.
There were a further three academy graduates on the bench in Harry Wright, Bishop and Idris El Mizouni, the latter handed his senior debut in the final 15 minutes.
The Blues burst out of the blocks.
Kayden Jackson turned on the after burners to charge down right-back Jack Hunt and then disastrous debutant keeper Stefan Marinovic inside the opening 40 seconds. It caused panic and almost led to a goal.
Alan Judge, again only nominally playing on the left, was absolutely everywhere. Emmanuel bombed on at right-back.
Everything Town did was intense, sharp and with purpose.
Chalobah mis-cued a volley wide. Luke Chambers glanced over at a corner. Judge saw a low shot pushed away.
The concern was that Town might burn themselves out…
HAD TO BE HIM
Town started to fade. The tide started to turn. A home goal suddenly seemed in the offing as cross after cross came into the box.
Adam Webster had to be the man who scored it. The former Blues defender, who pushed for his £3.5m move to Ashton Gate last summer, beat Toto Nsiala in the air to head home a corner just after the half hour mark.
Tom Lawrence, Bersant Celina, Joe Garner, Nelson Oliveira... It was just the latest in a long line of horrible sub-plots regarding opposition goalscorers this season.
‘Same old story’. Now we can start to use that phrase in a positive way.
Just like against Norwich, Derby, Stoke and West Brom, the Blues responded superbly to going behind.
There was little between the sides at the start of the second half. Ipswich grew into it more and more. Just like at The Hawthorns a few days earlier, there was a nervousness about the crowd.
Everyone expects the rock-bottom side to roll over. Teams continue to be surprised by just how well the Blues can play.
Chalobah and Gwion Edwards forced saves out of Marinovic.
Town’s equaliser, in the 68th minute, was superbly worked. Lloyd Kelly had come within whiskers of scoring an own goal when diverting Dozzell’s corner just past his own post. The subsequent corner from the other side was taken short, Myles Kenlock drove past his man, received the ball back from a smart Jon Nolan back heel and drilled in a low cross which Kelly turned into his own net ahead of the waiting Nsiala.
Bishop came on for the last few minutes and caused problems. Town defended well when required.
In the end a draw was probably about right. Town have now drawn five of their last six games 1-1. It would have been all six were it not for Reading’s last-gasp goal at Portman Road.
Andre Dozzell was handed only his seventh start of the season and third under Paul Lambert’s management.
The 19-year-old midfielder spots passes no-one else sees and always seems to execute them with the perfect weight. There were several moments like that which left you cooing.
He was probably fortunate not to be dismissed in the first half, somehow escaping a booking for a double-handed grab at the shoulders of Jack Hunt and then seeing yellow for exactly the same foul moments later.
This lad oozes class though. As does Bishop. The twinkle-toed El Mizouni has definitely got something about him too.
Emmanuel and Kenlock still have some raw edges, but there are undoubted attributes with both. Keeper Harry Wright (son of Richard) was among the subs. That’s not even mentioning Jack Lankester (injured) and Flynn Downes (still ill).
The future’s bright.