Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 5-3 defeat at Lincoln
Ipswich Town have slipped to fourth in the League One table following this afternoon’s 5-3 defeat at Lincoln City. STUART WATSON reports.
HIT FOR FIVE
This is the first time Ipswich have conceded five goals since a 5-1 televised drubbing at Reading in September 2015. It came against a Lincoln side who were among the lowest scorers in the league.
In many ways, this was a strange game. You couldn't really peg it as an 'eight-goal thriller'. For large periods it was bitty. Every chance that was created seemed to end in a goal.
Ipswich responded really well to going behind early on, Harry Anderson finishing after Jake Hesketh's clever reverse pass, and were putting the pressure on after Luke Garbutt's deserved free-kick equaliser. It was a really bright 20 minute spell.
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After Will Norris' late dash off his line led to Tyler Walker's hooked finish in first half stoppage-time, Town got themselves in it again, with a goal from nowhere, when Harry Toffolo turned into his own net after Freddie Sears had flicked on Alan Judge's cross following a short corner.
Town threw away that foothold though by conceding two poor goals in the space of six minutes. First, Joe Morrell was able to drive past statuesque defenders and picked out Walker at the far post for a close-range finish. Then, Michael Bostwick got the slightest of touches on a deep dead ball delivery to turn the ball in off the post.
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Substitute Will Keane pulled one back with a low finish on the run, following good play by Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden, but the Blues, committing men forwards, were hit with a late suckerpunch as Hesketh coolly finished off a slick counter.
EDWARDS AT RIGHT-BACK
Janoi Donacien was hobbling for quite some time after picking up an early knock. It was a surprise that he lasted until the 41st minute before eventually going off.
The Town coaching staff had plenty of time to formulate a plan, but Paul Lambert, Stuart Taylor and Matt Gill were still locked in conversation about what to do as Donacien limped off. In the end, they gestured for Freddie Sears to come on as a right midfielder.
That meant moving Gwion Edwards to right-back. Within seconds, the Welshman, who had got away with a few earlier fouls, was shown his eighth yellow card of the campaign for a coming together with Neal Eardley. Moments later, a cross from the left resulted in Anderson stabbing against the post.
Seven minutes into the second half, Edwards barged into Harry Toffolo. Seven minutes later he was replaced by James Wilson, with Luke Woolfenden moving to right-back.
That was probably the change that should have happened in the first place. Woolfenden provided some good runs and came up with the assist for Will Keane's late third. Then again, it was 2-2 when Wilson came on.
It sounds a strange thing to say, but there were some positives to take.
Town, playing a with 4-4-2 system for the second game running, looked like they had structure prior to Donacien's withdrawal.
Flynn Downes, back after a Boxing Day rest, was bang at it from the start. Andre Dozzell started to play some neat forward passes alongside him.
Garbutt's free-kick leveller should have seen the Blues kick on. Lincoln suddenly looked nervy, but Ipswich couldn't capitalise and proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot.
This is now a bone fide slump in form.
It's four defeats in five. It's 10 games without a win in all competitions. It's six league games without a win. It's 10 points from a possible 33.
Town were top and had a healthy eight point margin of safety to those outside the play-offs after their win at Rochdale on November 5. They're now down to fourth and just a point clear of seventh-place Bristol Rovers.
Next up is a trip to league leaders Wycombe (who lost 4-1 at home to Coventry today) on New Year's Day.
Paul Lambert sent his players over to applaud the 1,700 or so travelling fans at the end. After they departed the pitch, he and assistant Stuart Taylor made their way over to show their appreciation too. They received a few choice gestures in response.
The Blues boss then kept his players locked in the dressing room for more than an hour afterwards.