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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United

PUBLISHED: 20:56 27 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:57 27 April 2019

Will Keane is injured during the first half at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Will Keane is injured during the first half at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

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Ipswich Town lost 2-0 at Sheffield United this afternoon as the Blades effectively sealed promotion to the Premier League. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.

A flashpoint between Alan Judge and Jack O'Connell at Bramall Lane Picture PagepixA flashpoint between Alan Judge and Jack O'Connell at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

GULF IN CLASS

This was a 2-0 thrashing.

Scott Hogan's finish on the run (24) and Jack O'Connell's thumping header at a corner (71) barely told the tale.

It looked every inch the Premier League versus League One match-up it will soon be. A gulf in class. Men against boys. A chastening experience beamed to a national television audience.

Paul Lambert impersonators at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Paul Lambert impersonators at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

And it should come as no surprise either. There was a reason the Blues went into this game as mammoth 20/1 outsiders.

Sheffield United are a well-oiled machine. A team full of leaders and top players. Today they could smell promotion.

MORE: 'We take our medicine and rebuild' – Lambert wants Town players to take inspiration from Sheffield United promotion party

Town, by contrast, are injury-ridden, tactically experimenting and – most damaging of all – physically and mentally shot following an emotionally draining campaign.

Flynn Downes is off target with this first half effort at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Flynn Downes is off target with this first half effort at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

To be honest, we could have all done with the season ending once that big red 'R' appeared following the Birmingham game.

These last few games, against good opposition, were always going to be difficult to navigate.

STRIKER CURSE

Teddy Bishop tries to get into a position to shoot at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Teddy Bishop tries to get into a position to shoot at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Town's fate is of their own making. Boy have the football Gods kicked them while they are down though.

Will Keane last just six minutes before pulling up with a recurrence of the hamstring injury which kept him out for eight games recently.

Town have now got a big decision to make regarding how far they push the boat out to try and sign the soon-to-be out-of-contract Hull City loanee this summer.

Then Kayden Jackson felt a hamstring tighten up after the break and had to come off too.

Teddy Bishop goes past Sheffield United's Chris Basham at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Teddy Bishop goes past Sheffield United's Chris Basham at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

MORE: 'I can't wait to forget about Ipswich Town for a few months' - fans react to Sheffield United defeat

It left the Blues, remarkably, with barely a single fit striker or winger at the club.

Jon Walters came and went earlier in the campaign. Keane, Jackson, Freddie Sears, Jack Lankester, Grant Ward, Gwion Edwards, Ellis Harrison, Collin Quaner, Ben Morris, Ben Folami are all currently in the treatment room.

Ipswich Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Ipswich Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

COLE'S NEW ROLE

One positive to take from today was the performance of Cole Skuse at centre-back.

Lambert had started with a diamond midfield and two up front, but Keane's early injury forced a tactical reshuffle.

He matched up the home side's wing-back system. Skuse sat at the heart of a back three with Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala either side of him.

Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

The 33-year-old has lacked dynamism since his ridiculously quick return from knee surgery. What he never lacks is his ability to read the game.

MORE: Player ratings: Skuse the shining light in makeshift role but Blues are completely outplayed

His interceptor skills came to the fore here. While others around him looked panicked on and off the ball, he calmly stepped in when necessary.

It's a role that might just suit him in the twilight years of his career.

David McGoldrick gives former team-mate Luke Chambers a hug at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix David McGoldrick gives former team-mate Luke Chambers a hug at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

SOBERING STATS

Town have gone the entire campaign without keeping a single clean sheet on the road (25 games in all competitions).

They have conceded, on average, two goals a game away from home in the league (46 in 23).

Myles Kenlock challenges for the ball at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Myles Kenlock challenges for the ball at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

There's a very good chance they will end the season with just four wins to their name. That's the joint-lowest in Championship history alongside Blackpool in 2014/15.

BLADES OF GLORY

It's been a long journey to this point for Sheffield United.

Alan Judge with a very rare Ipswich effort on target at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United Picture Pagepix Alan Judge with a very rare Ipswich effort on target at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United Picture Pagepix

They recently spent six years in League One. There were near play-off misses. Then Chris Wilder arrived. Now it's two promotions in three seasons.

That's how quickly things can turn.

MORE: Sheffield United 2-0 Ipswich Town: Sorry Blues taught a lesson as Blades head for Premier League

And theirs has not been a story of a mega money takeover turnaround either. It's been a slow, steady rebuild. A team worth more than the sum of its parts. A team with an identity. A club with a connection to the fans.

It was grim viewing for the travelling Ipswich fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix It was grim viewing for the travelling Ipswich fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Ipswich Town have to take inspiration from that.

Cole Skuse goes for a near post corner kick at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Cole Skuse goes for a near post corner kick at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Kayden Jackson battles at Sheffield United Picture Pagepix Kayden Jackson battles at Sheffield United Picture Pagepix

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A clash between Alan Judge and Chris Basham at Bramall Lane which led to the Ipswich player being booked Picture Pagepix A clash between Alan Judge and Chris Basham at Bramall Lane which led to the Ipswich player being booked Picture Pagepix

Town fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Town fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Luke Chambers applauds the travelling fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Luke Chambers applauds the travelling fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Ipswich concede a second goal to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Ipswich concede a second goal to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

David McGoldrick applauds the travelling Ipswich fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix David McGoldrick applauds the travelling Ipswich fans at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Teddy Bishop is fouled at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Teddy Bishop is fouled at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Trevor Chalobah battles with David McGoldrick at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Trevor Chalobah battles with David McGoldrick at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix Paul Lambert at Bramall Lane Picture Pagepix

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