Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 4-1 home loss to Peterborough United
PUBLISHED: 19:13 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 21:20 01 February 2020
Ipswich Town were thrashed 4-1 at home by League One promotion rivals Peterborough United this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
On Tuesday night, Ipswich were out-fought and out-thought at Rotherham - the damage should have been far greater than 1-0. Five days on, they were outclassed on home turf by Peterborough - 4-1 was very much a fair reflection of the game.
Following an encouraging start to 2020, it's been a sobering week. Leapfrogged by Posh (who have now won four on the spin), Town are down to fourth. The six sides immediately below - Coventry, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Oxford, Fleetwood and Doncaster - all have a game or two in hand to come.
Town may still be very much in the thick of the congested promotion mix with 15 games to go, but their record against promotion rivals has to be a cause for concern.
Against the current top eight it's: W0 D6 L4 (six points from 30). Against the next eight (9th-16th), it's W4 D4 L2 (16 points from 30). Against the bottom seven it's W8 D0 L1 (24 points from 27).
The big moment in this game was Will Norris' howler which led to Posh netting a killer second in the 33rd minute.
Cole Skuse, back in the team for the injured Emyr Huws, had done some neat tidying up in the box before rolling the ball back to his keeper.
There looked little danger when Norris took a touch by the near post on his stronger left foot. For some reason he decided to try and drag the ball back inside the on-rushing Sammie Szmodics (who didn't exactly charge him down with intent) and saw the ball nicked away.
The former Colchester man attacker, who has proved an astute January loan addition from Bristol City, accepted the gift before posing provocatively in front of a North Stand emitting anger.
There were audible chants of 'Holy, Holy' soon afterwards in reference to Town's popular benched keeper Tomas Holy. Not long afterwards Norris was guilty of a rash dash of his line which led to a collision with Myles Kenlock and a hacked clearance into touch.
To be fair to Norris, he responded well in the second half. After ironic cheers greeted him claiming a cross, the Wolves loanee made a decent stop down low to his left to deny a deflected effort and then clawed a glancing Toney header (albeit the offside flag was raised) around the post.
Unlike outfield players, when goalkeeper's make glaring errors it always tends to lead to a goal. The problem is, Norris has got a few blots on his copy book now. There were charges off his line for the goals at Lincoln and Wycombe. If you were being hyper critical, you could say he might have done more in the build-up to Rotherham's winner in midweek.
Being a loanee certainly doesn't help when scapegoat status gathers momentum. Lambert's got a big call for Sunderland next weekend.
SOFT, SOFT, SOFT
Peterborough were good, but boy did Ipswich give them a helping hand.
Town simply didn't cope with Posh's complementary front two of Toney and Dembele - a classic 'big man, little man' partnership - all game.
We've mentioned the killer Norris error. The other three goals were all soft in the extreme too.
The referee may have taken his time to give it, but James Wilson's lunge from behind on Demeble in the box was a nailed on penalty for the opener. Town had given the ball away in midfield in the build-up, allowing for Toney to play a sumptuous first time ball.
Two more straight passes over the top also did for goals three and four.
The livewire Demeble scampered in behind Luke Chambers and cut inside an equally flat-footed Wilson to score the third.
And it was a goalkick which led to the fourth. Toney flicked on under minimal pressure, Wilson was rash in his attempts to try and nick the ball in front of Dembele and then Chambers was caught in no-man's land as the ball was slipped to Szmodics for a cool finish.
It was a reminder that Ipswich, who again carried little punch in the final third, haven't really managed to get a front two really playing as a pair all season.
James Norwood replaced Alan Judge at the break, but with three strikers on the field the Blues never looked like scoring. The penalty award for Norwood's penalty consolation looked pretty soft.
FRUSTRATION IN THE STANDS
Ipswich always seem to fall flat on the big occasions at Portman Road.
A bumper crowd of 21,351 was in attendance for this top-six clash. The ground seemed half empty by the full-time whistle. A significant number of those who stayed let their frustrations be known as Paul Lambert went over to applaud at the end.
We've discussed the reaction to the Norris error. Did that help him and the team? No. Were emotions understandably high? Yes.
Nine of Town's last 15 games are at Portman Road. Getting that connection back between terrace and turf is going to be vital. It's a symbiotic relationship, but the tone always has to be set by the players.
SALT IN THE WOUNDS
Gwion Edwards had his best games in a long time. The Welshman was constantly darting at marker Dan Butler, supplying teasing crosses or cutting inside to shoot.
So what happened? He picked up his 10th booking of the season in the second half meaning he'll be suspended for the next two games - at Sunderland and AFC Wimbledon. The door will be open again for Janoi Donacien.
Town could have to change their other wing-back at the Stadium of Light too because Luke Garbutt limped off with a thigh injury in the first half. Myles Kenlock did okay, but without Garbutt on the pitch the threat from set-pieces massively diminishes.
I'll finish with a mention for Flynn Downes. In difficult circumstances he was a driving force in midfield. That boy is heading for the top.