Stuart says – 10 observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town exited the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Premier League side Crystal Palace last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the game.

HISTORIC

This was the youngest team fielded for a competitive match in the history of Ipswich Town Football Club.

The average age of the starting XI was 20. Take goalkeeper Dean Gerken (32) out of the equation and that drops to 19.3.

Altogether seven players made their debuts, with seven teenagers featuring.

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

It was all because Mick McCarthy had eight senior players injured or recovering from injury and didn’t want to risk any more of his small squad becoming unavailable.

HEADS HELD HIGH

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Town’s travelling army of around 2,000 fans will have headed to Selhurst Park full of trepidation knowing a team of kids would be facing Premier League quality. They left brimming with pride.

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

The fear was that Town would get thrashed and the youngsters would be left scarred for the experience. The hope was that they would rise to the occasion and Palace’s fringe men would have a bit of a sulk on. Thankfully, the latter transpired.

Mick McCarthy marched onto the field and shook every single one of his players’ hands at the end. Even the Palace fans stayed to applaud the visitors’ efforts.

GAMBLE PAID OFF

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

This could have backfired for McCarthy. Most fans accepted this was a needs-must situation, but there was an element who felt it was defeatist and disrespectful. A heavy loss would certainly have seen the noise from the latter camp intensify.

Some questioned pre kick-off whether naming only five substitutes and leaving 10 fit senior players at home was taking things too far. The performance which ensued fully justified the decision.

Town can now look forward to Saturday’s Championship visit of Fulham. The Blues are looking to win their first five league games for the first time in the club’s professional history. Fulham, who lost 1-0 at home to League One side Bristol Rovers last night, are yet to register a Championship victory.

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

FLYNN’S FLYING

The first few games of the season had already given us the sense that Town have a star in the making in the form of Flynn Downes.

The 18-year-old Essex boy faced the press for the first time on Monday. He came across as confident, but not arrogant. His focus and drive was evident. His enthusiasm was infectious. When the above was relayed to boss Mick McCarthy he smiled and said: “Good, because he’s going to have to do a lot more of that – we’ve got some player there.”

The teenager talks and plays like he’s been in senior football all his life. Genuine box-to-box midfielders seem to be a dying breed, but he is one. Loves a tackle and when he gets it the ball the first thought is to be positive.

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Cites Steven Gerrard as his role model and you can see why. Remember the name.

NYDAM’S VERSATILITY

Tristan Nydam, 17, caught the eye playing as a No.10 in the Carabao Cup first round win at Luton. Last night he started at left-back and was equally impressive.

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

The most striking thing about him is how well he reads the game. Technically he is very tidy, while he fights well above his diminutive stature.

When he started at Barnsley recently he took all the free-kicks and corners. Ex-Town star Kieron Dyer rates him as a massive prospect. Another one with a bright future.

THE BIG BAD WOLF

Flynn Downes

Flynn Downes - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich-born Luke Woolfenden, 18, was my pick of the Blues bunch.

The right-back initially kept Jeffrey Schlupp (a Premier League winner with Leicester) quiet, then found a second wind when the Eagles brought on England winger Andros Townsend down his side.

Six foot plus tall he is built like a centre-half, but boy has he got a turn of pace. He marched forwards confidently on more than one occasion. There was also a great moment when he matched speed merchant Townsend stride-for-stride, timed his standing tackle to perfection and spun away with the ball.

ABLE DEPUTY

Town are blessed to have two top-class Championship keepers.

Dean Gerken has had to warm the bench for the last 18 months, watching on as the outstanding Batosz Bialkowski has earned all the plaudits.

It’s easy to forget how good Gerken was prior to losing his place, but last night was a reminder of that. Wearing the captain’s armband he produced three excellent saves – the pick of the bunch being when he clawed Yohan Cabaye’s curling free-kick out the top corner just before half-time.

KIDS MUST BUILD ON THIS

What about the rest of the Town youngsters?

George Fowler (19) and Pat Webber (18) were assured at centre-back, Adam McDonnell (20) was tidy and positive in central midfield, Shane McLoughlin (20) produced good movement in the No.10 role, while Australian striker Ben Folami (18) worked his socks off up top. Defender Chris Smith (19), winger Monty Patterson (20) and striker Ben Morris (18) all came on, the latter getting an assist.

McCarthy said he may have just changed his mind on one or two he had previously doubted would make the grade at first-team level. They’ve now got to perform like this on a regular basis for Gerard Nash’s Under-23s or really shine if sent to a lower league team on loan.

KENLOCK IN THE CROWD

Young left-back Myles Kenlock, now a regular in the first-team squad, was given the day off but chose to travel to his native South London and cheer on his mates from the away end. More proof of the spirit in the camp.

PALACE POOR

Take absolutely nothing away from the Town performance at all, but there is the caveat that Palace didn’t exactly look up for it.

French star Cabaye should have run the show, but, perhaps not happy he was left out of the Eagles’ opening two Premier League games, he coasted. It will have done him little favours with boss Frank de Boer. And he was not alone.

The South London side lacked urgency throughout. They could be in for a long season.

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