Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 win at Fleetwood
Ipswich Town extended their lead at the top of the League One table with a 1-0 win at Fleetwood Town this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
In the end it was 1-0 to the Ipswich for the fourth time this season.
Town had to negotiate a nervy six minutes of stoppage-time, during which James Wilson was dismissed, when this game should have been put to bed long before that.
For the second weekend running, the Blues looked a little short of ideas in the first half as too often it went long (which proved meat and drink for giant centre-backs Harry Souttar and Jimmy Dunne).
For the second weekend running, Kayden Jackson pounced after a low Luke Garbutt free-kick was pushed away. He's on six goals for the campaign now. Ipswich are on 21. Both tallies should be higher.
Within seconds of the restart, James Norwood snatched at a chance after a defensive error, dragging the ball wide. Spurned one-on-one chances are starting to stack up for the front man now.
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Not long afterwards, Jackson raced clear only to square to nobody when the goal was at his mercy.
After going in front, the Blues had two huge penalty shouts ignored (more on that in a moment). And when they were finally awarded a spot-kick in the 88th minute, Jackson side-footed the ball wide of the post following a stuttering step-up.
Credit to the way the Blues defended. Fleetwood, clearly a very capable side, failed to create any real major openings.
Their big moment came and went in the 78th minute when Ashley Hunter's header across goal flashed just beyond the stretching Ched Evans on the goalline. Had that gone in then Town would certainly have been kicking themselves at such profligacy.
SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SPECSAVERS
It's not just the standard of player that drops in League One…
Referee Carl Boyeson, in prime position on both occasions, was twice unmoved when Ipswich looked to have nailed on shouts for penalties.
First, in the 64th minute, Jon Nolan appeared to have his legs swept from underneath him when running onto a Norwood cross.
Then, in the 77th minute, Jackson was upended after blazing past Souttar. Initial contact may have been just outside the box, but that doesn't explain the award of a goalkick.
There was also a head-scratching booking shown to Cole Skuse after he got all of the ball with a recovery tackle.
And then where did six minutes additional time come from?
FIRE ON THE FIELD
All eyes were on the technical areas given Paul Lambert and Joey Barton both have history when it comes to touchline flare-ups.
In the end, the fire and flashpoints were all on the field as Boyeson dished out 10 bookings.
Norwood picked up a silly yellow card in the first half for a lunge from behind and then walked a tightrope as he engaged in physical battles.
Substitute Gwion Edwards wiped out Jimmy Dunne on the wing to spark a scuffle.
Ched Evans was late on Skuse, Nolan kicked out for a tactical foul on halfway, while James Wilson, who had defended ruggedly, picked up his two yellow cards for clumsy fouls.
And yet Lambert and Barton showed great restraint throughout it all. There seems to be a mutual respect between the former top-flight midfielders.
GOOD TIME FOR A BREAK
Kane Vincent-Young was withdrawn at half-time after reporting a slight groin strain. It was a precautionary move.
Then Norwood, just like at MK Dons, hobbled off with that groin problem he's been managing for some time.
The front man will now undergo a minor operation which has, Lambert says, always been planned for this international break. It's hoped he will be available for the trip to Accrington in a fortnight.
Danny Rowe ended up playing up front in the latter stages of this game due to the fact Town didn't have a striker on the bench.
The quicker Will Keane and Freddie Sears are fit the better.
NOD TO NOLAN
With Alan Judge dropping to the bench to accommodate Luke Woolfenden's return to the side, Jon Nolan was pushed into a more advanced role. The former Shrewsbury man plays the No.10 position with far more discipline.
His really pulled the strings in the second half, playing a variety of clever forward passes and always looking to make late runs into the box. Behind him, Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes - the only two outfield ever-presents over the 11 league games so far - hunted well as a pair.
There was a good balance about this midfield three.