Stuart says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City

Bobby Reid is congratulated by team-mate Famara Diedhiou after scoring Bristol City's third. Photo:

Bobby Reid is congratulated by team-mate Famara Diedhiou after scoring Bristol City's third. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town lost 3-1 at home to Bristol City in a Championship clash yesterday. STUART WATSON analyses a frustrating afternoon.

Martyn Waghorn wheels away after scoring for Ipswich Town late in the first half. Photo: Steve Walle

Martyn Waghorn wheels away after scoring for Ipswich Town late in the first half. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Bad luck

It started with Tom Adeyemi feeling his hamstring go in the warm-up and having to be replaced in the starting line-up by Tristan Nydam.

Less then two minutes into the game and Josh Brownhill’s shot took a major deflection off the unfortunate Nydam to completely wrong-foot keeper Bartosz Bialkowski for 1-0. Goals – their timing and nature – do a lot to the momentum of games and this one really took the wind out of the home side and players.

Town were just starting to get a foothold in the game when strong Senegalese striker Famara Diedhiou expertly headed home Jamie Paterson’s deep cross from the left.

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The Blues never got going after that, even after Martyn Waghorn pulled a goal back in the 41st minute, and Bobby Reid sealed all three points with yet another heavily deflected shot from outside the box. This time the ball appeared to come off Jonas Knudsen’s elbow.

The referee didn’t help either. Referee Simon Hooper had a bit of a stinker. He didn’t give Town hardly anything, failed to keep the physical battle between Joe Garner and Aden Flint under control (both were as bad as each other) and some pedantic whistle blowing added to the staccato action.

• Match report: Ipswich Town 1 Bristol City 3

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No excuses

That said, this was undoubtedly a flat and unimaginative display from Town. Disjointed and lethargic, it was completely at odds to the scintillating 5-2 dismantling of Sunderland on Suffolk soil four days earlier.

Perhaps that high-octane performance against the Black Cats had taken something out of them physically and mentally? Bristol City had played in midweek too though, beating Bolton 2-0 at home.

The biggest disappointment was the second half. Having pulled a goal back just before half-time, Waghorn producing a fine first-time finish in off the underside of the bar following Knudsen’s low cross, you’d have expected the home side to burst out of the blocks with renewed belief after the restart.

That simply didn’t happen. Garner had a chest and volley punched away, but Town never really threatened.

Even with half an hour still to play and just a goal in it, there was always a sense of inevitability about this defeat.

• Reaction: Mick McCarthy didn’t foresee flat display

Credit to Bristol City

Take nothing away from the rockin’ Robins though. Lee Johnson’s men are now unbeaten in 11 games across all competitions and up to fifth in the table. You can see why.

Two banks of four were very organised and disciplined. They didn’t give Town any gifts or gaps, were physically strong in all departments and very professionally squeezed the life out of the match during the scrappy second period. A few time wasting antics were frustrating, but understandable. This was an excellent away day display.

Towering centre-backs Aden Flint and Nathan Baker are a formidable pair, lively winger Jamie Paterson now tops the Championship’s assist charts with five, while the front two of Diedhiou (6) and Reid (8) have 14 goals between them.

In what looks to be a very open division this season, they might just stick around at the top end.

Bristol City don’t have parachute payments and get similar gate receipts to Town, but owner Steve Lansdown has reinvested the big transfer fees received for Jonathan Kodjia, Yannick Bolasie (sell-on clause) and Lee Tomlin.

Diedhiou was a club-record £5.3m signing from French club Angers, while experienced Villa defender Baker cost in excess of £2m.

• Twitter Talk: Blues fans react to Bristol City defeat

Return and set-backs

It was great to see Adam Webster return to the team as a half-time substitute following his latest ankle injury. The 22-year-old looked a little ring-rusty, but undoubtedly gives the team another dimension with his comfort on the ball at the back.

It was a shame to see Adeyemi pull up because he’s added some athleticism to the midfield.

Most worrying of all was the sight of David McGoldrick walking gingerly from the field with a tight hamstring midway through the second half. The forward has oozed class of late, but there was always a concern another injury set-back could be around the corner.

Following an international break, Town travel to third-place Sheffield United. Emyr Huws, Tommy Smith and Teddy Bishop could be in contention by then.

• Mike Bacon’s player ratings & MOTM poll

Bigger picture

Town have played 10, won six and lost four in the league. They’re eighth in the table with a game in hand on most. They have five more points than at this stage of last season. They’re scoring more goals, on the whole have looked more dynamic and entertaining, while homegrown players are getting game-time. Only once (Fuham) have they been outclassed. It’s progress.

And yet, all six of the teams they’ve beaten are in the bottom half. Five of them are 18th or below. Sunderland aside, the victories have not been utterly convincing. Too many goals are being conceded. It’s now five losses from seven in all competitions.

There’s still a sense, deep down, this is a mid-table outfit at best. There should be some more fun along the way though.

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