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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 1-0 defeat at Bristol City

PUBLISHED: 11:25 18 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:26 18 March 2018

Milan Djuric scores the winner for Bristol City with a second half diving header Picture Pagepix

Milan Djuric scores the winner for Bristol City with a second half diving header Picture Pagepix

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Ipswich Town remain 12th in the Championship table after this afternoon's 1-0 defeat at Bristol City. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.

Callum Connolly runs into trouble at Ashton Gate Picture PagepixCallum Connolly runs into trouble at Ashton Gate Picture Pagepix

‘We blinked first’

How many times have we heard Mick McCarthy say that this season?

A goalless draw probably would have been a fair reflection of a scrappy game played in blizzard conditions. Neither team ever looked on top.

The Robins found the breakthrough in the 64th minute when Lloyd Kelly’s pin-point cross from deep was converted by stooping substitute striker Milan Djuric.

It was a well-executed goal, but from a Town perspective they didn’t do enough to stop the delivery, while Adam Webster let his man get across him to score.

Djuric had produced a gilt-edged miss moments earlier when putting a rebound chance over after Bartosz Bialkowski had spilled Marlon Pack’s long-range effort.

Bristol City had hardly been banging down the door though and, generally, had been frustrated.

Town’s few chances came from flighted crosses. Jordan Spence put a difficult header over, while twice Callum Connolly nodded down at the back post only to see the ball scrambled away.

Marlon Pack sticks very close to Callum Connolly Picture PagepixMarlon Pack sticks very close to Callum Connolly Picture Pagepix

It wasn’t a bad performance. We’ve seen a lot worse from Town. That’s damning with faint praise though. McCarthy’s insistence that it was a ‘real confident display’ certainly rather over-egged the pudding as a five-game unbeaten run on the road came to an end.

MORE: Ratings: Who was a hit and who was a miss in the Blues 1-0 loss to Bristol City?

Tactics

When the hosts had the ball it was a back five with Cole Skuse sitting right on their toes and Grant Ward and Callum Connolly just in front of him. But when possession was turned over, full-backs Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen bombed on.

After Tuesday night’s 3-0 home defeat to Hull, the game plan was clear – be compact, organised and hard to beat. It worked as the Robins, who started sharply, became increasingly frustrated. They ended the first half with a 62% share of possession but had never really looked like scoring. The issue was that Town lacked a genuine offensive threat themselves.

Late subs

There was no bold roll of the dice by McCarthy after Town went behind.

Martyn Waghorn stretches to bring the ball under control ahead of Bristol City's Bailey Wright Picture PagepixMartyn Waghorn stretches to bring the ball under control ahead of Bristol City's Bailey Wright Picture Pagepix

He waited until the 83rd minute before introducing Bersant Celina for Ward. Then homegrown striker Ben Morris didn’t replace Sears until deep into stoppage-time.

The Blues ended the game with centre-back Adam Webster up front in a desperate attempt to grab a point.

Goal drought

Callum Connelly shooting at Ashton Gate during the second half Picture PagepixCallum Connelly shooting at Ashton Gate during the second half Picture Pagepix

That’s now three straight games without a goal for Town. They’ve scored just 10 in their last 17 across all competitions.

Freddie Sears looked more effective in his preferred central role up top, scampering in behind and turning the defence. There was very little end product though from a man who has now gone 35 games without a goal.

Waghorn cut a frustrated figure at times when being asked to chase lost causes.

Town, with the way they play, undoubtedly miss the physicality of a fully fit Joe Garner ruffling feathers and attacking headers.

Grant Ward challenges Marlon Pack at Bristol City Picture PagepixGrant Ward challenges Marlon Pack at Bristol City Picture Pagepix

And, as ever, a lack of guile in the middle third underpins it all. Once again, we are left to wonder what a difference having the likes of Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi, Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell available would have made.

MORE: Bristol City 1-0 Ipswich Town - Blues good away run ends as Djuric wins Ashton Gate clash

Table

The Blues remain 12th in the Championship standings – 10 points behind the play-off places and 19 clear of the bottom three.

Mick McCarthy gives out instructions at Bristol City Picture PagepixMick McCarthy gives out instructions at Bristol City Picture Pagepix

For the first time in a long time there are more defeats (16) than wins (15) on the board, while the goal difference has moved into the negative.

Norwich City’s 3-2 home win against Reading means the Canaries have moved level on points with eight games to go. That East Anglian mid-table battle is all that’s really left to play for.

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