Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s goalless home draw with Doncaster
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town moved back up to second in the League One table with a goalless draw against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Can a goalless home draw ever be considered a 'positive point' for a team gunning, at the very least, for promotion? You can certainly make a strong case for that today.
Town were far from their best. They were outplayed by a decent Doncaster side in the first half. They didn't do enough to claim victory in a slightly improved second half display.
Another decent-sized crowd was in attendance - 18,928 - but the atmosphere was far more subdued as the team gave the fans little to bounce off.
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Paul Lambert's post-match assessment of being 'pretty pleased, but not overly pleased' hits the nail on the head.
You can't win them all. Not even Manchester City do that.
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A clean sheet, still unbeaten and back up to second with a game in hand. On to the next one (MK Dons away on Tuesday night).
THE HOLY ONE
It's often said that goals win games, but clean sheets win titles. Ipswich have now shut out the opposition in three successive league games.
That hasn't happened since the Blues were grinding their way to Championship safety in the early days of Mick McCarthy's management in March/April 2013.
Tomas Holy played a big part in today's draw. The giant Czech got down low to keep out a low effort from Niall Ennis inside the box and stayed big at his near post to deny Jon Taylor.
After a slightly shaky start to the season, the former Gillingham man is looking more assured by the week.
With a fit-again Toto Nsiala watching on from the stands, centre-back duo Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden were the team's best two performers.
Chambers made countless blocks and last-ditch tackles. Woolfenden again looked a very smooth operator.
Kane Vincent-Young has excited us all with his offensive qualities since arriving from Colchester, but today he showed he can defend too.
Myles Kenlock got away with a few bad moments, but came to the rescue late on when muscling Alex Kiwomya (nephew of Chris) off the ball in a dangerous moment.
Lambert said in the build up that 'players win you games, not systems'.
Today was the first time that we saw the frailties of 4-4-2 as Doncaster, a team of technically sound players, bossed the midfield.
Alan Judge, not for the first time, looked lost out on the flanks.
Lambert stuck with it though and when the changes came in the second half, they were like-for-like.
Jon Nolan for Flynn Downes, Anthony Georgious for Gwion Edwards (with Judge moving over to the right), then Will Keane for Kayden Jackson.
This was, however, no doubt a day where the pros of having two up top didn't outweigh the negatives of having one less in midfield.
James Norwood's roar of rage in the first half, after the referee refused to give him a free-kick near halfway, were born out of sheer frustration.
He battled hard up top, but ultimately got little change out of giant centre-back Tom Anderson.
His striker partner, Kayden Jackson, had little to feed off. The long balls into the channels for him to chase were often over-hit. Ipswich's direct game was blunted.
And yet Norwood's sheer persistence meant he still had two great chances to score.
First, in the 65th minute, Cole Skuse seized on a mistake in midfield and slid him away one-on-one. Keeper Ian Lawlor narrowed the angle and kept out the attempted near post dink.
Then, in the 90th minute, Lawlor came to the rescue for his side again. This time Norwood took Judge's raking pass over the top beautifully in his stride, but his left-footed strike was pushed around the post.
Norwood failed to convert several one-on-one chances in the 5-0 rout of Bolton. He'll be frustrated not have scored today, even though the aforementioned chances were hardly gilt-edged.
The time strikers really worry is when those chances don't come though.
This is the 20th game in a row that Ipswich Town have failed to win off the back of an international break.
A 2-0 home win against Millwall in September 2014 was the last time it happened. Since then there have been 10 draws and 10 defeats.
The Blues opted to call off last weekend's scheduled game at Rochdale due to call-ups.
The only player who started today that wouldn't have been available last weekend was Alan Judge.
Mind you, three players on today's bench - Andre Dozzell, Armando Dobra and Anthony Georgiou - would have been away too. And Keane wasn't good to go a week back either.
Should Town have just played at Spotland to try and keep up momentum and avoid a long midweek away trip in what could be a busy November?
Would they have played any better today had there not been a fortnight between league matches?
We'll never know.