Stu says: Eight observations following Ipswich Town’s dramatic 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest
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Ipswich Town suffered late heartache in Bryan Klug’s first game as caretaker boss this afternoon, losing 2-1 at Nottingham Forest this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
City Ground curse
It was all going so well up until the 88th minute. Town, who led through Grant Ward’s first-half header, conceded a penalty (more on that in a bit) and Ben Brereton converted from the spot. Then, in the fifth and final minute of added time, Joe Lolley rammed home a far post volley to snatch all three points for the hosts.
The Blues have now gone 13 games without a win at Forest – a run which stretches back to 1999.
Remarkably, in five of their last seven visits here now, they have let points slip beyond the 84th minute. Lolley joins Liam Trotter, Michail Antonio, Lewis McGugan and Marcus Tudgay on the list of men to dish out some late heartache to the Blues in these parts.
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Paying the penalty
Town have now conceded a penalty in three successive away games.
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The spot-kicks awarded against them in the 1-0 defeats at Birmingham and Brentford were undoubtedly soft, but there can be no complaints on this occasion.
Ben Brereton got the wrong side of Ward in the box and was clumsily bundled over. Bartosz Bialkowski dived the right way but couldn’t prevent Brereton’s penalty going in off the post.
Forest had failed to score in their previous six games. This sense of relief around the ground was palpable. They hadn’t exactly been banging the door down prior to that.
‘Risk and reward’
Bryan Klug admitted it was a ‘risk and reward’ situation deploying Grant Ward at right wing-back.
His former Tottenham protégé was excellent going forwards, constantly darting at his marker and delivering dangerous balls into the box.
On the flip side, there were defensive frailties. Bialkowski got him out of jail early on after a slack backpass. And he committed a couple of fouls late on, including the spot kick, after getting the wrong side of his man.
Klug explained that Barry Cotter – so impressive in that role in Tuesday night’s 1-0 home win against Barnsley – couldn’t play as ‘his legs were still wobbling’.
Bartosz Bialkowski made three solid stops in the first half, but it was Ipswich who looked the more likely to score next after taking the lead.
Tristan Nydam and Cameron Carter-Vickers were denied by close-range defensive blocks, Martyn Waghorn didn’t get enough on a cheeky lob attempt, while Luke Hyam and Mustapha Carayol fired inches wide from good positions.
This game could, and should have been put to bed before the late drama.
Subtle style change
Klug’s football philosophy – one of passing, freedom and expression – differs to Mick McCarthy’s ultra-pragmatism. Having had just one training session with the players this week though he was never going to revolutionise the style of play overnight.
There were, however, encouraging signs in the performance. Midfielders constantly demanded the ball off the defence. Movement off the ball was good. Players were willing to play backwards in order to open up better angles.
Klug said he hoped the travelling fans will have gone away appreciated ‘a good effort’. They will certainly have done that.
Kids are alright
Teenage striker Ben Morris did well on his full debut. He may not have had any goalscoring chances or show reel moments, but he worked his socks off, pressed from the front and made space for others around him. He’ll be better for the experience.
Tristan Nydam had his best game for the first team. It helped that Town looked to play through the thirds. It was no coincidence that the Blues had less possession when he went off with cramp in the second half.
Myles Kenlock was also good at left wing-back. He produced a balanced display of defensive solidity and attacking intent. His assist for Ward’s close-range header, a wicked first time cross, was superb. There’s a good chance he’ll stay in the team for the last three games now.
It was fascinating watching how Town’s new management trio – and they are very much a trio – operate.
Reluctant caretaker Klug, who has made it very clear that his forte is academy development and not the cut throat world of management, sat and surveyed the scene from bench.
His young protégés Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg were more engaged. Nash constantly prowled the edge of the technical area, passionately shouting instructions. Hogg was calmer, more withdrawn, arms folded, imparting the odd instruction.
At half-time the trio held back and had a little conflab before joining the players in the dressing room.
Klug is not only trying to develop players for the future but coaches too.
Luke Hyam – one of four homegrown players in the team – has done his chances of earning a new deal no harm since returning for long-term injury at the start of 2018.
He followed up a mature display at Brentford last weekend with another composed performance. We all know he is energetic and tenacious, but he appears to have developed on the ball of late.