Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 defeat at Bristol City
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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.
‘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.
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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.
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.
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.
There was no bold roll of the dice by McCarthy after Town went behind.
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.
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.
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.
The Blues remain 12th in the Championship standings – 10 points behind the play-off places and 19 clear of the bottom three.
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.