Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s goalless draw at Cambridge United
Ipswich Town finished their pre-season campaign with a goalless draw at League Two side Cambridge United this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Oh Flynn Downes… You silly, silly boy.
The midfielder had arguably been the best player on the pitch as the game entered the final knockings goalless.
He'd provided tenacity, strength, drive and positivity, almost certainly nailing down his spot in the starting XI for next weekend's League One opener at Burton.
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And then the red mist descended.
The tackle on him by Paul Lewis wasn't a particularly clever one. The Cambridge midfielder caught the Town man on the top of his ankle with his studs up.
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Perhaps Downes was thinking about Tristan Nydam's horrible injury at Notts County in midweek?
That, in no way shape or form, excused the reaction though.
Downes jumped to his feet, spun Lewis around from behind then butted his head violently into his opponent's face.
An angry mêlée ensued. Downes was dismissed. U's striker Jabo Ibehre also saw red for his role in the subsequent flare up.
As a rule, red cards in friendlies don't carry suspensions for the league. Time will tell if The FA take any special action here.
We all love Downes' competitive edge. All good players need that. He's crossed that fine line before though. We saw it at Carrow Road last season and in the FA Cup at Accrington.
Off the pitch he's a lovely, genial young man. Still only 20 years old, remember, and, like anyone that age, still growing into their own skin. He's admitted to moments of anxiety and over-thinking following his breakthrough as a senior pro.
What he did today was wrong, he'll know that. Hopefully he can get past these mad moments with the right advice and support.
Town played with a diamond midfield system in the first half, Danny Rowe playing in behind a front duo of Norwood and Kayden Jackson, then switched to 4-2-3-1 after the break.
There were some nice, crisp passing moves in the opening 45 - Downes and Andre Dozzell combining well in the middle of the park - but rarely a punch at the end of it. The closest the Blues came was when Jackson fired across the face of goal.
That punch did come after the break. Sadly, in a literal sense as Norwood inadvertently handled the ball into the net at the far post.
It was no coincidence that the Blues went up a gear once Alan Judge and Emyr Huws were on the field.
Callum Burton made a fine point-blank save from a Norwood header, Luke Garbutt hit the side-netting after a Norwood knock down, while Huws saw a decent shot pushed away too.
'WE WANT YOU TO STAY'
There has been one name on the lips of Ipswich Town fans this week… Alan Judge.
Following Tuesday night's draw at Notts County, manager Paul Lambert revealed the Irishman - who only signed a two-year deal at Portman Road in April - was keen on a move to QPR.
Town have rejected two bids and, we understand, owner Marcus Evans is determined to keep hold of a man signed to be the centrepiece of the side.
Judge must have wondered what sort of reception he'd get today. He needed have worried.
There was a rousing rendition of 'we want you to stay' when he came out to warm up in front of the 1,300 away fans midway through the first half.
The 30-year-old was introduced at the break for his first outing of pre-season, seven weeks on from breaking his wrist on international duty.
If Town were keen on selling him, you doubt they be taking that risk.
Anyone who played down his ability off the back of this week's news needs to think again. He changed this game.
Playing just off Norwood in a 4-2-3-1, the pair linked up brilliantly. Judge found pockets of space and repeatedly found his forward partner with clever deep crosses.
Luke Woolfenden looks nailed on to claim one of the two centre-back slots at Burton next weekend.
The 20-year-old played the opening half, battling well in the air and constantly reading danger.
Who partners him - in the absence of the suspended Luke Chambers and the injured Toto Nsiala - remains to be seen.
Again, Town's two trailists got a half each.
Jon Guthrie had a very hit and miss first half. There were some towering headers from the long limbed left-footer, but also a couple of nervy moments, including a slice behind for a corner.
James Wilson had less to do after the break, but did what he had to with assurance. The former Lincoln man looks to be the front runner to win a contract.
Corrie Ndaba's non-involvement suggests he is not in the frame at the moment.
Lambert said not to read too much into his team selection today.
Tomas Holy getting the full 90 minutes between the sticks might just suggest that he'll get the nod, ahead of Bartosz Bialkowski, next weekend though.
The summer signing from Gillingham looked very assured in all he did. The ball stuck to his giant hands, he claimed crosses confidently and there was a decent stop with his legs too.
Another big positive was Huws getting another half an hour under his belt. He has featured in all five matchdays this pre-season now.
A negative was Myles Kenlock missing out through illness, though Bailey Clements deputised well enough.
Interestingly, Cole Skuse played the last half hour at right-back after Janoi Donacien was withdrawn, with Josh Emmanuel remaining unused.