Stu says: Six observations following Town's 2-0 friendly defeat at Braintree
PUBLISHED: 10:53 15 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:53 15 July 2018
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Ipswich Town started their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 defeat at Braintree Town on Saturday afternoon. Stuart Watson gives his snap observations.
There is no way of dressing this up – Town weren’t very good at all in their first domestic outing under new boss Paul Hurst.
A pretty senior side played the opening hour against a Braintree team that has just been promoted back into the top-flight of non-league football.
They ended up well-beaten at 2-0.
Aaryan Tajbakhsh produced two fine finishes – outside of the boot in the 13th minute and a curling free-kick in the 64th minute.
The damage would have been greater were it not for some really good saves, first from Dean Gerken and then Harry Wright, as well as a gilt-edged miss.
Town, by contrast, created next to nothing. New boy Jordan Roberts was denied one-on-one in what was really the Blues’ only really goalscoring chance of note.
One of the big reasons Hurst was recruited as Town’s new boss this summer was his use of sports science at former club Shrewsbury Town.
The Shropshire side were hailed as the fittest team in League One last season and didn’t have that many injuries either.
All the Blues players wore heart-rate/GPRS monitors around their chests during the game.
Hurst won’t just be using his eyes to assess his new squad, but also crunching the data to find out who he feels can carry out an energetic high press.
It’s understood the players were made to run and run and run during an ‘old school’ boot camp over in Spain the week before this. Maybe that had an affect.
Getting a base level of conditioning for the gruelling campaign ahead may just be more important to Hurst than performances at this stage of the summer.
It was very much a 4-2-3-1. No surprise there, given Hurst used that system – or a variation of it – for much of last season at Shrewsbury.
What was more of a surprise was to see new signing Roberts as the man spearheading the attack. He’s primarily a left-winger, but his best football for Crawley Town last season did come as an emergency striker before Christmas.
That meant that Freddie Sears once again found himself on the left wing, with Grant Ward on the right and Martyn Waghorn in the No.10 role.
Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes anchored the midfield, while the back four of Josh Emmanuel, Jordan Spence, Luke Chambers and Myles Kenlock rather picked itself given the absentees.
There were a few signs of Hurst wanting his players to press high as, on more than one occasion, a home defender was dispossessed.
Another feature was Town players looking to play the ball forwards quickly into the channels in order to get the opposition facing their own goal. It was a tactic which, on this occasion, brought little joy though.
Hurst bemoaned the fact that not enough of his players went looking for the ball in a critical post-match press conference.
It’s important to say that the rock hard, bobbly Cressing Road pitch was not conducive to a passing game. The game was played in scorching temperatures too. No excuses though – it was the same conditions for both sides.
SUPER SAVES Dean Gerken provided a reminder that he is a very capable Championship goalkeeper with several fine saves when Braintree were on top in the first half – the pick of the bunch a full length dive to tip around the post.
Harry Wright – son of Richard – then stepped off the bench midway through the second period and made two flying stops to keep fine free-kick attempts out the top corner late on.
Bartosz Bialkowski is back on Monday and Jonas Knudsen the following Monday.
Trevoh Chalobah and Ben Morris are away with England at the Under-19 European Championships in Finland, while Joe Garner (knock), Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop, Tom Adeyemi and Danny Rowe (not risked after long-term injuries) sat out.
Town take on League Two side Crawley Town (at East Grinstead Town) on Tuesday night then travel to National League side Barnet on Saturday.