Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw at Coventry City in FA Cup
Ipswich Town will face Coventry City three times in 10 days after the pair played out a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup this afternoon. STUART WATSON reports from St Andrew’s.
And so, Ipswich Town will play a sixth FA Cup replay in seven seasons.
This time the boot was on the other foot when it came to late drama. In the previous round, Alan Judge netted in the 94th minute at Lincoln to end Town's miserable run of results in the competition. This time, Callum O'Hare rifled home in the 94th minute to set up a second match with Coventry, at Portman Road, a week on Tuesday,
With Ipswich returning to St Andrew's on Saturday to face the Sky Blues in a top-six League One clash it means the two teams will be facing each other three times in just 10 days.
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The replay will be Town's 12th midweek game of the campaign.
The draw for the third round will take place at 7pm on Monday (BBC Two), with Premier League and Championship clubs going into the hat.
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Much like the midweek goalless draw with Wycombe, this was a case of lots of possession with little punch. Plenty of control, but no real cutting edge.
Keane's goal was well-worked, Danny Rowe intercepting a loose pass before Alan Judge tricked his way to the byline to cross for a close-range finish, but that proved to be Town's only shot on target of the game.
Several times in the first half, the Blues kept the ball for long spells only to reach the final third and be pushed right back.
Flynn Downes side-footed wide from inside the box after some good work by Judge and Keane. Luke Garbutt's wicked free-kick delivery somehow evaded Keane at the far post. Danny Rowe dragged a shot wide when a cross looked the better option.
The Blues had no chances of note in the second period though and, while it's true that they looked to be comfortably heading for victory, the slender margin of lead came back to bite them at the end when Coventry started the Alamo.
Long throws and corners peppered the box in the dying moments. James Wilson headed off the line (87), then Will Norris made a flying save to claw Liam Kelly's curling effort out the top corner (90). The pressure finally told deep into the five added minutes (where did they come from?) when substitute O'Hare swivelled to score inside the box after a long throw from the left was not dealt with.
That's not to say there weren't positives. Keane, looking sharper by the game, produced some neat footwork and link-up play, Nolan controlled possession, while Judge appears to have the bit back between his teeth. Read on for more on Downes and Norris.
Paul Lambert stuck with four of the same defenders who had started Tuesday night's game and kept Jon Nolan in the team too. James Norwood (suspended for the weekend) was deemed too big an injury risk. Those that came in - the likes of Judge, Downes (back after illness) and Danny Rowe (a regular this season) - can hardly be labelled 'reserves'.
Coventry counterpart Mark Robins named a virtually full-strength side too, making only two changes to the team that drew 1-1 at Sunderland the previous weekend.
But while it wasn't 'reserve' teams on the pitch, the atmosphere certainly had a reserve game feel to it.
Less than 3,000 were inside the 30,000 capacity St Andrew's. That's about half of what the Sky Blues have been getting at their temporary home for league games.
BATTLE FOR NUMBER ONE
Lambert's squad rotation very much includes the goalkeepers. He doesn't tell them which one is playing until the day of the game in order to keep them on their toes. Right now, it's a policy that's working.
Norris saved a penalty against Blackpool and was then dropped. Holy saved a penalty against Wycombe and was then dropped. Norris returned between the sticks here and produced a man-of-the-match display.
Everything the Wolves loanee did was assured and solid. He claimed several potentially dangerous high balls with confidence. He kept out a well-struck Maxime Biamu shot and was quickest to the rebound. He showed safe hands on plenty of other occasions and then pulled off that aforementioned top quality save at the death.
Flynn Downes was made captain at the age of 20 years and 315 days.
It made him the club's youngest ever skipper, beating the record previously held by Mark Brennan (20 years and 350 days in 1987), and saw him join some exalted company in terms of homegrown talent who have worn the armband in their early 20s - that list including the likes of Mick Mills and Kevin Beattie.
Being given the honour, little more than four months after being sent-off in pre-season for a headbutt, shows you just how much the Essex boy has grown as a player and a person this campaign.
We're not even halfway into this campaign, but Paul Lambert has already named seven different captains in 23 games across all competitions. Cole Skuse stood in when Luke Chambers didn't play against Burton and AFC Wimbledon, while Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala, Emyr Huws and James Wilson have all been skipper for cup ties.
For context, Mick McCarthy only named eight different captains during his six seasons at the club.