Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 home win against Wigan
PUBLISHED: 17:03 13 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 13 September 2020
Ipswich Town got their 2020/21 League One season off to a good start with a 2-0 home win against Wigan Athletic this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
SHARING THE GOALS
How refreshing it’s been to see the goals shared around.
There was a time during Mick McCarthy’s reign that centre-backs regularly got on the score sheet, but those badly dried up.
Meanwhile, goals from midfield have been rarer than hen’s teeth for a number of years.
With this new commitment to a 4-3-3 system, it’s vital that the central striker’s supporting cast all chip in. And they have been so far.
Freddie Sears (2) and Luke Chambers bagged against Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup, then Jon Nolan netted against Arsenal’s kids in the EFL trophy.
Today, it was the turn of Teddy Bishop and Gwion Edwards.
Bishop arrived in the right place at the right time to emphatically head home a half-cleared cross on the run in the 12th minute. That, remarkably, was the injury-plagued midfielder’s first senior goal in almost six years following on from his finish at Bournemouth back in November 2014.
The 24-year-old was denied a second when keeper Jamie Jones produced a breathtaking finger-tip save to turn a well-struck shot onto the post.
Striker Aaron Drinan, right-back Chambers and right-winger Alan Judge all had good headed chances, while left-winger Sears was also denied by the keeper.
Then winger Edwards stepped off the bench in the 74th minute to help turn the tide back in Town’s favour.
The Welshman rammed home the much-needed killer second from close-range, then stung the hands of Jones at the death after cutting inside from the left.
PATTERNS OF PLAY
Town’s new-look way of playing is still bedding in, but the signs are highly encouraging.
When the Blues move the ball quickly and purposefully, they are hard to stop. Had Sears finished off a super move that included a Dozzell switch and Judge back heel then we’d have been talking about an early goal of the season contender.
Dozzell once again pulled the strings at the base of midfield in the first half, but found it difficult to have the same impact after the restart thanks to a man-marking job.
Bishop’s driving runs carried Town 10-20 yards up the field, but he faded a little after the break. Positively, Emyr Huws provided some fresh forward thrust when replacing him.
The star of this midfield show though, over the 90 minutes, was Nolan. Don’t underestimate how important his constant movement and composed passing was to disorientating the opposition.
The former Shrewsbury man got Chambers out of jail with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle in his own box, was involved in the move that led to Bishop hitting the post and played a big part in the build-up ahead of Edwards’ killer second. He’s really taking his chance in the absence of the wantaway Flynn Downes.
There are still kinks to iron out. Judge’s movement can be both a blessing and a curse. Moving about all over the pitch looks as likely to lead to a chance being conceded as it does one being created. Wigan were threatening down his side until Edwards came on and Judge moved across to the left.
Town certainly benefitted from having a bit more pace on the field late on, with Wigan having to suddenly be more mindful of a counter threat.
RIDING THEIR LUCK
Now on to a few negatives. This was far from plain sailing.
Ipswich, without first-choice defenders Kane Vincent-Young and Luke Woolfenden, switched off several times at set-pieces and crosses.
Emeka Obi twice got free in the box to head golden chances wide in the opening 15 minutes. Often the danger came in the Chambers-Toto Nsiala right-sided defensive corridor.
The typically rumbustious Joe Garner put an audacious acrobatic kick against the bar and also headed a decent chance over after James Wilson misjudged the flight of a ball.
Having nullified Town’s threat at the start of the second period, Wigan – who still have a fairly experienced team despite this summer’s mass exodus – were beginning to get on top. Alex Perry saw a fine chest and volley attempt dip just over the bar and the Latics were getting more and more joy down their left.
Town’s killer second came against the run of play really.
Credit to Lambert for getting Edwards on that side of the field to force the dangerous Viv Solomon-Otabor back.
LEFT SIDE LINK-UP
What an astute signing Stephen Ward looks. The Irishman oozes experience.
The 35-year-old knows when to attack and when to defend. Everything he does is measured. And he’s already struck a good on-field relationship with clever left-winger Sears.
Time and time again the duo combined. Take a look back at all those chances described earlier and Ward was involved in a large number of them.
Talking of link-up play, Drinan once again played the role of central facilitator really well. His back-to-goal work and disciplined positional play act as an important pivot for others to feed off.
The Irishman came off with a knock at the break and was replaced by James Norwood. He plays the role differently, running here, there and everywhere. At one point he had the ball at centre-half. It might disrupt the opposition, but it also gives Town less of a focal point too.
Norwood, to be fair, is still getting up to speed after long-term groin issues though and was becoming a handful towards the end. This new competition for striker spots will hopefully inspire him to take his game up a level this season. He certainly looks like a man desperate to impress.
Interestingly, Sears was the man on direct dead ball duty.
Twice Town won free-kicks in dangerous positions just outside of the box and twice Sears’ attempts lacked conviction as the shot went over the bar.
Judge might just be putting himself forwards for the next one.
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