Stuart says: Five observations from Ipswich Town’s 2-0 home defeat to Fulham
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s 100% start to the Championship season came to an abrupt end with a 2-0 home defeat to Fulham today. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Just like at Portman Road back on Boxing Day 2016, Slavisa Jokanovic’s men passed the Blues off the park.
They ended the match with 70% possession and it felt like a lot more than that.
Mick McCarthy said pre-match that, just like against Brentford the previous weekend, his team would not have much of the ball. That message became a self-fulfilling prophecy as Town sat deep and chased shadows.
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Few teams, to be fair, would have been able to deal with a Fulham side in their stride though.
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Star midfielder Tom Cairney, the 2016/17 EFL Player of the Year, was unplayable. He was here, there and everywhere and pulled the strings. Cole Skuse was tasked with a man-marking job, but couldn’t get near him.
The Cottagers’ marauding full-backs Ryan Fredericks and Ryan Sessegnon caused no end of damage down the flanks. The latter, who only turned 17 in May, was mightily impressive, but certainly aided by the fact that right-back Dominic Iorfa was far too narrow and winger Martyn Waghorn neglected his defensive duties.
NO CHANGES AT BREAK
It came as some surprise when McCarthy made no changes, either in terms of personnel or tactics, at the interval.
He could have shifted the energetic Grant Ward wide right to deal with Sessegnon and put the tenacious Flynn Downes on to disrupt in the middle. He could have changed to a back five.
He did neither and six minutes after the restart it was 2-0 and effectively game over.
To be fair, the Blues boss’ options are rather limited at the moment. The quicker he gets some defenders and midfielders fit again the better.
Town may have won their opening four league games, but there’s no doubting they rode their luck in all of those victories. Birmingham, Barnsley, Millwall and Brentford all had spells on top, but Mick McCarthy’s men stuck to the task and were clinical when it mattered.
Fulham provided a massive step up in class in terms of opposition. Forget their slow start – they’d played Norwich, Reading, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday – they will be promotion contenders again.
We had been saying that tougher tests were ahead for Town. The good news is there won’t be many better teams heading to Suffolk in 2017/18.
If 12 points from the opening five games had been offered up before a ball was kicked, anyone associated with Ipswich Town would have snapped their hand off.
Any predictions that was going to happen, following the doom and gloom of 2016/17 and a 6-1 friendly defeat at Charlton, would have been laughed at.
This, sadly, was just one game too many for an injury-hit squad at the end of a relentless August.
The international break comes at just the right time. Hopefully, come the trip to QPR in a fortnight’s time, the likes of Luke Chambers, Tom Adeyemi and Luke Hyam can be called upon again.