Stuart says - Nine observations from Ipswich Town's 2-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers
PUBLISHED: 22:18 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:50 17 September 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Second half goals from Cole Skuse and David McGoldrick saw Ipswich Town beat rock-bottom side Bolton Wanderers in the Championship. STUART WATSON gives his observations.
Cole Skuse goals are almost as rare as rocking horse poo. This was only his second in 176 outings for the Blues and 11th in 485 career appearances.
His first for Town was a stunning strike in a 3-1 home win against Cardiff almost two-and-a-half years ago. This one was not so easy on the eye – the 25-yard strike took a huge deflection off of Josh Cullen to wrong-foot keeper Ben Alnwick – but boy was it important. More on that later.
Skuse’s all-round performance was impressive. His passing was more positive than usual, he got forward when he could, while he still did his standard excellent job of shielding the defence. One dart back and last-ditch tackle in the first half was outstanding.
An attendance of 14,164 is the lowest for a league game at Portman Road in almost 20 years.
We all know that attendances were far lower than the official numbers given out last season as those figures always include season ticket holders, regardless of whether they turn up or not.
Town sold around 2,000 less season tickets this summer and, as a result, the true state of apathy surrounding a club treading water in the Championship is coming to light.
This wasn’t a performance to bring fans back in their droves either.
Indeed, the drab first half was on a par with so much of the forgettable footballing dare dished up at Portman Road throughout 2016/17.
It was a familiar tale. Town never seem to be able to kick out-of-form opposition when they’re down. They never seem to be able to burst out of the blocks and take the game by the scruff of the neck when they are favourites at home.
Bolton, a team still seeking their first league win following promotion from League One, grew in confidence and looked the far more likely to score in a scrappy opening 45 minutes.
Mick McCarthy reverted to the wing-back system which he started the season with, partially because he felt it suited his personnel following skipper Luke Chambers return from injury, partially because he felt his side produced their best display (1-0 home win v Birmingham on the opening weekend) with it, and partially to match up Bolton.
It didn’t work and the Blues boss acted at the break, bringing on Bersant Celina for Callum Connolly and switching to a 4-4-2.
Town fans called upon McCarthy to hand Celina his full Championship debut after a superb consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat at QPR. The exciting Manchester City loanee missed most of training this week with a dead leg though and was once again on the bench.
The 21-year-old did inject some spark when coming on at the break. If he can just learn when to do his tricks and when to keep it simple, Town have got a hell of a player on their hands.
Here is someone who gets fans off their seats. There’s an air of anticipation every time he gets the ball. One driving run from the edge of his own box to the other lifted the crowd, while he also had a curling effort pushed around the post.
The question is, does the conservative McCarthy see him as too much of a luxury? Is he destined to play the role of impact sub against tiring legs? Can he fit in the same team as David McGoldrick?
He’s a confident lad and desperate to start. It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.
Credit where it’s due
Who knows how things might have panned out had Skuse’s shot not deflected in less than three minutes after the restart as you could sense the frustration building on and off the pitch up until then.
Town did improve in the second period and finally sealed victory at the death through David McGoldrick’s classy footwork and clever outside of the boot finish. ‘Didzy’ may have his frustrating moments, but his smooth technique is generally a joy to watch.
Two goals scored, a clean sheet and another three points on the board. Job done and move on. This is the sort of game Town would have probably drawn last season.
Jonas Knudsen was ruled out with a tight hamstring and Myles Kenlock took his opportunity with both hands.
The homegrown youngster was Town’s only real attacking threat in the first half from left wing-back, while he defended superbly throughout. He was undoubtedly Town’s man-of-the-match.
McCarthy was delighted to see a reaction from a player he had recently given a ‘right royal kick up the backside’ to for letting his standards drop slightly.
More to come from Adeyemi
Illness and injury badly disrupted Tom Adeyemi’s start to life with the Blues, but he’s shown just why Town recruited him on a free transfer from Cardiff this summer in his first two outings.
Following on from a positive substitute’s display at QPR, this was an encouraging full debut. He looks a genuine box-to-box player with defensive and offensive attributes. Still getting up to speed, there is surely more to come.
Is everything in the garden rosy? No. Have any of Town’s five wins been convincing? Far from it. Are there much tougher examinations head? Undoubtedly.
What’s been achieved shouldn’t be sniffed at though. Just look at some of today’s Championship results. Bristol City beat Derby 4-1, Burton beat Fulham 2-1, while Millwall beat Leeds 1-0. To use a McCarthy phrase, this league is ‘bonkers’.
The Blues are fourth in the table, two behind leaders Leeds ahead of a trip to Elland Road next weekend and also have a game in hand.