Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 4-0 win against Gillingham in the EFL Trophy
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town booked their place in the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy with a comfortable 4-0 victory against Gillingham at Portman Road last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
DEMONSTRATION OF DEPTH
Paul Lambert rested nine of the team that started Saturday's 1-0 win at Fleetwood.
And he is, remember, without the services of injured quartet Freddie Sears, Jack Lankester, Teddy Bishop and Tristan Nydam.
Yet the Blues boss was still able to name a side that would, almost certainly, prove more than competitive in League One.
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Gillingham boss Steve Evans made 10 changes to the team which beat Southend 3-1 at the weekend. His 'reserves' contained far less experience and guile.
Talking of Evans, there were no fireworks between him and Paul Lambert following the pair's recent war of words. Lambert, true to his word, simply kept his distance pre and post match.
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And so, Town booked their place in the knock-out stages of the EFL Trophy at a canter.
Emyr Huws rifled home an eight minute opener, then Jordan Roberts emphatically fired home a second midway through the first half.
There were ironic cheers when Gillingham midfielder Henry Woods dragged an effort well wide just after the hour - that was their first (and only) attempt on goal of the game.
Moments later, Idris El Mizouni's whipped corner forced Mikael Mandron into an own goal.
Then, three minutes from time, Will Keane coolly found the bottom corner following Armando Dobra's through ball.
Paul Lambert's men now have a Group A dead rubber to play at Colchester on Tuesday, November 12.
The potential route to a Wembley final is two regionalised rounds followed by a quarter-final and a semi-final.
LOOK HUWS BACK
How good is it to see Emyr Huws getting through games again?
The Welshman has spoken candidly about being 'the most depressed man around the club' during his two-year injury nightmare.
But after coming through a full and demanding pre-season he has been able to slowly but surely tick off some major milestones on this long road to recovery.
A senior start at Luton - tick. Playing a full 90 minutes against Tottenham U21s - tick. Starting back-to-back games - tick. Now he can add 'score a senior goal' to that list.
The 26-year-old broke the deadlock when shifting the ball out of his feet 20-yards from goal before finding the bottom corner with a low effort that skipped off the surface.
The last time he'd scored for the first team was when raising the roof of a packed Portman Road with the clincher in a 3-1 victory against Newcastle way back on Easter Monday 2017.
This goal may have come in front of little more than 5,000 in the EFL Trophy, but it will have felt just as sweet.
He'll take just as much heart from his all-round play too. There was neat pass in the build-up to Town's second goal, a powerful knock-and-run surge through the middle of the park and some good box-to-box movement.
MORE TO COME
This game also provided some valuable game time for two more senior players working their way back to full fitness.
Toto Nsiala - who was handed the captain's armband - barely had to break a sweat at the heart of a back three.
Up top, Keane wasn't exactly here, there and everywhere (understandable given his recent groin niggle), but there were reminders of his class with several neat lay-offs, plus that composed late finish.
Roberts was the other striker and he had to be replaced by Dobra at the break after picking up a toe injury. With James Norwood having just had groin surgery, the Blues look a little light of fit and firing strikers at present.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
It was wing-backs again, which now seems very much Lambert's formation of choice.
Janoi Donacien played the first half on the right, before Gwion Edwards replaced him at the break.
Lambert needed to assess his options for that position in case Kane Vincent-Young has not got over his groin strain in time for the trip to Accrington a week on Sunday.
Danny Rowe did his first-team chances no harm with a lively display in the No.10 role.
And there was a senior debut for academy product Tommy Hughes, the versatile 18-year-old playing the final 10 minutes in the holding midfield role.
At the final whistle, we once again saw the team hand-holding celebration in front of the North Stand.
IPSWICH TOWN (3-4-1-2): Norris; Woolfenden, Nsiala (cpt), Wilson (Hughes 80); Donacien (Edwards 46), El Mizouni, Huws, Kenlock; Rowe; Roberts (Dobra 46), Keane.
Unused subs: Wright, Clements, McGavin, Simpson.
GILLINGHAM (4-4-2): Walsh; Hodson (cpt), Tucker, Ogilvie, Garmston; Marshall, Woods, Cisse, Pringle; Charles-Cook (Jakubiak 69), Mandron (Lee 69).
Unsued subs: Bonham, O'Keefe, Ehmer, Ndjoli, O'Connor.