Stuart says: Five observations from Ipswich Town’s 2-0 win at Luton Town
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Ipswich Town progressed into round two of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 victory at League Two side Luton Town last night. STUART WATSON picks out five talking points.
A CUP WIN!
Mick McCarthy went into this game having won only two of his 15 cup games in charge of the Blues. Town had exited the League Cup to lower league opposition at the first hurdle in five of the last six seasons. The omens were not good.
This year, more than ever, Town needed a win in this competition.
Last Saturday’s encouraging opening weekend 1-0 win against Birmingham prevented the ill-feeling which surrounded a dire 2016/17 campaign resurfacing.
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It was vital the Blues kept that momentum going heading into away games against Barnsley and Millwall.
Back-to-back wins, the emergence of some youth team stars, some impressive debuts and easier on the eye football have gone a long way to fostering a sense of new beginnings.
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KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
They say necessity is the mother of all invention. Who knows if Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam would be anywhere near the first team had a whole host of senior midfielders not been injured or ill in recent weeks?
To be fair to Mick McCarthy, he could have brought Kevin Bru in from the cold of signed an experienced player on loan as cover with the likes of Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi, Teddy Bishop and Luke Hyam sidelined.
Instead, he’s called upon two teenage academy graduates – and boy have they taken their opportunity.
Downes was the star of early pre-season, looked jaded in the 6-1 friendly defeat at Charlton, but then impressed when replacing the injured Andre Dozzell midway through Saturday’s 1-0 win against Birmingham City.
The Essex-born 18-year-old looks like he’s been in senior football all his life. He’s tenacious, aggressive and reads the game well, but also far more than just a holding midfielder. When he gets the ball his first thought is to drive forwards and play a positive pass. Remember the name.
Zimbabwe-born Nydam has been with the club since the age of 10 and is capped at England Under-17 level.
The 17-year-old can play a variety of positions, but looked good in a No.10 role at Kenilworth Road. Short in stature, but big in heart there was a great moment when he raced in to stop a quick free-kick being taken and then didn’t even flinch when shoved hard in the chest by big striker James Collins.
Neat and tidy in possession, he’s another who wants to play a forward pass and that’s something Town’s midfield has lacked for some time.
Towering centre-back Luke Woolfenden replaced the luckless Adam Webster at the break and didn’t look out of place either.
Academy supremo Bryan Klug and his staff can be very proud. It’s sure good to see the Playford Road production line working again.
CELINA WILL EXCITE
It looks as though Blues fans are going to love Manchester City loanee Bersant Celina. The 20-year-old Kosovan international is a left-winger or No.10, but made his debut as a forward up alongside David McGoldrick.
He’s quick, direct and has a few nice tricks. Every time he gets the ball he tries to make something happen and get people off their seats.
There’s a touch of arrogance about him, but evidence he’s a team player too. He tracked back, competed for headers and always played the right pass. The way he skipped past his marker and found David McGoldrick for the opener was sublime.
McCarthy has a big call to make in terms of his front two at Oakwell on Saturday.
The physical Joe Garner and speedy Freddie Sears combined well in the win against Birmingham, but David McGoldrick offered a reminder of his silky link-up play tonight and produced two cool finishes.
And you’ve also got Martyn Waghorn in the mix now following his switch from Rangers. The stocky forward has been handed the number nine shirt and enjoyed a decent half-hour cameo.
MORE INJURY WOE
Adam Webster rocked his troublesome ankle and had to go off at half-time, while Cole Skuse was forced off in the second half after jarring his knee in a fall.
Webster was sidelined for the entirety of last season with that ankle ligament injury and missed the start of pre-season after a set-back. Let’s hope the cultured centre-back isn’t going to be dogged by the problem.
Jonas Knudsen once again looked well-suited to playing in a back three though, while Jordan Spence and Tommy Smith will hopefully be fit again for Saturday’s game at Barnsley.
Options in central midfield could be severely limited if Skuse is out. Grant Ward is a doubt for the weekend with the calf injury he sustained against Birmingham, leaving Downes, Nydam and Celina.