Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 home loss to Coventry City
PUBLISHED: 20:05 07 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:25 08 March 2020
Ipswich Town have slipped to 10th in the League One table following this afternoon’s 1-0 home loss to Coventry City. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
GOALS WIN GAMES
This was, no doubt, a much better performance than Tuesday night's 1-0 home loss to Fleetwood. Mind you, that's not saying much.
Yes, Town showed more character, effort and bravery on the ball. The bar had been set pretty low with regards those three things in midweek though.
It was, ultimately, back to the same old story. After going behind after 16 minutes, they didn't have enough quality to break down organised opposition. Goals win games and Town just don't score enough. That's now seven blanks in 12 matches.
Coventry, now 18 games unbeaten across all competitions, were ruthless when it mattered. Jon Nolan turned into trouble down the flank and within two passes the visitors had the ball in the back of the net. Liam Walsh's through ball was inch-perfect. Matt Godden's fluid touch, turn and finish was class. That allowed the table-toppers to go into game management mode.
Ipswich could have crumbled. To be fair, they responded well. Nolan fluffed a golden headed chance, fearful that he was about to be clattered by the keeper as the ball bounced, while a Freddie Sears shot inside the box lacked conviction.
After the restart they got on the front foot. There were fewer aimless balls forwards to a depleted front line lacking physical presence. Town kept trying to play out the back. For all the pretty little triangles on the halfway line though, attacking moves lack a cutting edge. Town just don't seem to be able to up the tempo when they reach the final third. It's all too predictable.
Godden stabbed a teasing Fankaty Dabo cross over in the 50th minute. Had that gone in, it would have been game over. It didn't and Town continued to flatter to deceive.
Sears' through ball was just too strong for Bishop. Sam McCallum got a vital touch on a deep cross as Luke Chambers steamed in at the back post. A low Alan Judge cross was hacked away at the near post. And that's all she wrote.
The Blues ended this game with just two shots on target. You sense they could have played for hours more and not scored.
MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK
Officials aren't the reason why Ipswich Town find themselves in the position they are, but you'd have to say that decisions definitely haven't evened themselves out for Paul Lambert's men this season
The Blues looked to have a good penalty shout waved away early on when Nolan cut back across the heels of Kyle McFadzean in the box. *Perhaps* he was guilty of dramatising the fall. *Maybe* scoring first would have changed the course of this match. Town *possibly* should have been awarded a foul in the build-up to the goal too. *Maybe* there was a high foot in the box when Chambers was denied.
*If* just one or two key men had been available - Will Keane joining the growing injured and suspended list for this one - things *could* have been different.
Note the emphasis on the ifs, buts and maybes. You make your own luck in this game. The table doesn't lie.
STICK WITH THIS SYSTEM
It was another six changes from Lambert. Another change in formation too.
The Blues have looked so much better with a 4-3-3 than a 3-5-2 in recent games. If that is Lambert's formation of choice - and by all accounts it is - then he has to stick with it now.
Nolan went missing against Fleetwood. Today, he was far more involved but just fell short at the key moments. A goalscoring midfielder has to be high on the summer wish list.
A talismanic, physically capable, all-round striker could make all the difference too. We hoped James Norwood would be that man. It's been hard to fully judge his debut season at this level given the injuries he's carried.
Keane, Kayden Jackson and Freddie Sears all have qualities, but none are really suited to the lone striker role.
Lambert's substitutions have been questioned this season, but it would be a harsh stuck to beat him with this on this occasion. Maybe Teddy Bishop, whose race was clearly run, should have been the first to be withdrawn ahead of Sears? It was always a big ask for either of them to play 90 minutes though given their recent long-term injuries.
WORTHY OF NOTE
Gwion Edwards looked a weak link out of position at right-back earlier this season, but he was Town's man-of-the-match in that role today.
The Welshman had a superb second half, making important interventions at one end and providing an attacking spark going the other way. It was a timely performance from him given his contract is up this summer.
Cole Skuse, back in the side having recovered sufficiently from the gashed shin he suffered at Blackpool, also played well. There was the usual tidying up in front of the back four, plus some more positive forward balls.
Andre Dozzell showed flashes of his ability with some slick no-look reverse passes. He would really benefit from a proper run of starts now.
It's probably worth taking more of a look at youngsters Tyreece Simpson and Armando Dobra too. Planning for next season starts now.
There was a brief burst of boos at the final whistle, but also some applause too. There were no audible chants aimed at Paul Lambert and Marcus Evans, not the levels of Tuesday night anyway. There was no banner displayed in protest at the owner on this occasion either.
It's caused debate on social media as to whether too much acceptance about the club's decline has crept in. Ipswich Town, with a decent budget and squad depth for this level, are staring down the barrel of mid-table finish in the third-tier.
Forget the play-offs, Town are looking over their shoulders now. The four teams immediately above them all have two games in hand. Gillingham and Burton could both leapfrog the Blues if they win their games in hand.
Ipswich's record over the last nine games (W1 D1 L7) is the worst in the division. It's not good enough.