Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 4-1 win against Accrington Stanley
PUBLISHED: 19:10 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 19:10 11 January 2020
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town are back up to third in the League One table following this afternoon's 4-1 home win against Accrington Stanley. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
INJECTION OF INTENSITY
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has consistently said that hard work would get his team back to winning ways. He said the reason behind the downturn in results has been a drop off in the intensity levels which were behind the flying start to life in League One. Well the intensity certainly was back today.
From the very off, Blues players pressed high and hard. Kayden Jackson's energy and aggression proved the catalyst for Town getting on top and staying on top.
Ipswich's 13th minute opener was of the highest quality. Jackson powered onto a ball into the right channel, checked back and Town crisply worked the ball across the opposite flank. Luke Garbutt's clever reverse pass led to Luke Woolfenden crossing for Jackson to convert on the stretch. The roof was raised.
Town started to find their groove. Unlike in previous weeks, they were able to turn dominance into a killer second. James Norwood coolly lobbed stranded keeper Josef Bursik from the edge of the box after racing onto Emyr Huws' pass over the top. You can't underestimate how important that goal was.
Norwood skewed a good opportunity wide, Jackson had a one-on-one smothered and Town finally bagged a third when Alan Judge fired home to cap the Blues' best half of football of the campaign.
Lambert named the same starting XI that took to the field at Wycombe on New Year's Day. It was the first time this season that he'd name an unchanged side from league game to league game.
It was the same system too (though don't ask the Blues boss about them), but the way Town played with wing-backs was very different to what we've previously seen.
This was just like watching Sheffield United in the way wide centre-backs Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden constantly bombed forwards. Woolfenden's role in the opener has been mentioned. For the third, Chambers started the move by spraying a pass out to the right before carrying on his run to pop off James Norwood's cross in the box. The skipper certainly enjoyed that.
Those weren't isolated incidents either. It happened all game.
JUDGE THE FULCRUM
Alan Judge has never hidden away from the fact that he wants to be playing as the No.10.
He's had to wait a long time to get his wish, but now looks set to stay there after following up his lively display at Wycombe there with an even more impressive performance.
With the freedom to roam, the Irishman was at the heart of everything good Town did. He kept finding pockets of space between the lines, played it simple when needed and provided some dangerous crosses/passes when appropriate too.
Finally scoring his first league goal for the club will have further boosted his confidence.
If Ipswich can get him and Emyr Huws fully up to speed, the latter having much more impact than in previous games, then you could really see them kicking on in the second half of this campaign.
SENSIBLE SECOND HALF
Town had this game won by the break. After the restart, they played sensibly and with control.
It was a shame they didn't finish with the clean sheet the utterly dominant performance deserved. James Wilson's foul on Offrande Zanzala led to the latter converting an 86th minute penalty - Accrington's first and only shot on target.
There was still time for the hosts to grab a fourth. After Judge, Jackson and Huws were withdrawn to warm ovations, probably with Tuesday night's trip to Oxford in mind, substitute Will Keane bustled his way into the box and rifled home a low shot in stoppage-time. That's five goals in nine games for him now.
Accrington barely laid a glove on Ipswich. Yes, they were without two key midfield men in Sean McConville and Jordan Clark, and, yes, they'd played in midweek. But Stanley are still one of the form teams in the division. This Ipswich display and result should not be played down in any way shape or form.
BACK UP TO THIRD
This is Town's first victory since the 1-0 FA Cup replay victory at Lincoln on November 20. It's their first league win since the 1-0 win at Rochdale on November 5.
It's their first home win since the 4-0 thrashing of Gillingham in the EFL Trophy on October 8. It's their first home league win since Tranmere were seen off 4-1 on September 28.
In short, this was needed.
Hopefully, it can act as a real turning point. The Blues are back up to third in the League One table with a game in hand on top two Rotherham and Wycombe.
Victory at Oxford on Tuesday night could see them move back into the automatic promotion spots. Defeat could see them leapfrogged by Karl Robinson's side though.