Stu says: Six observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City
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Ipswich Town lost 1-0 at Birmingham City this afternoon in the first game following Mick McCarthy’s summer exit announcement. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
The big question going into this one was how everybody would react just two days on from the announcement that Mick McCarthy would be leaving at the end of the season.
The away support – sizeable in number as always – certainly didn’t make a big fuss one way or another. Not one that was audible anyway. Yes, there have been out-pourings of frustration and toxic chants intermittently over a period of time now – but it’s hardly been every week.
What about the players? Captain Luke Chambers said everyone in the dressing room was ‘gutted’ and would be fired up to play for their departing boss over the remaining eight games. Motivation and effort has never been a criticism levelled at the team though.
What followed was a typical Town display. Plenty of graft, but little guile.
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The only goal of a very ordinary game arrived in the 21st minute. Ex-Town loanee keeper David Stockdale bowled the ball out to the halfway line to set flying winger Jacques Maghoma on his way and the Frenchman was simply too quick for Cameron Carter-Vickers as he burst into the box.
Did he go down too easily? Probably. It’s a spot-kick you’d want if it was the other way around though.
Jota coolly converted to take the tension out of the air at St Andrew’s.
A fine margins affair that could have gone either way.
A scrappy game lacking in quality and entertainment value.
Plenty of Town effort, but too many unforced errors and very little invention.
The Blues’ sole shot on target arrived in the 67th minute when Martyn Waghorn’s angled effort was palmed away.
This was a carbon copy of the 1-0 defeat at Bristol City prior to the international break. It could easily have ended goalless.
The bottom line is that win, lose or draw so many of these binary scoreline matches blend into one.
When Town travelled to Wolves on December 23 it was a meeting of the Championship’s top two scorers.
In the 18 games which have followed the Blues have found the net just 10 times (with 10 blanks). They’ve scored a first half goal in just three of those games to highlight an often oh-so-conservative approach from the off.
Breathtaking from Bart
Bartosz Bialkowski added another breathtaking shot to impressive collection.
In the 28th minute, not long after the hosts had taken the lead, Che Adams shot from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection. Bialkowski was already committed to his dive towards the bottom corner but somehow stuck out a reactionary leg to prevent the ball going straight down the middle.
There is no doubt that the recently-capped Poland international deserves to go to the World Cup this summer.
And there is little doubt that he will win Supporters’ Player of the Year for a third successive season.
Millwall come to Portman Road on Easter Monday. Neil Harris’s side are on a remarkable run of seven wins in eight matches and find themselves within a point of the play-offs places. They’ve scored inside the opening minute in three of their last four games and will have had an extra day of rest having played on Good Friday.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what the Portman Road atmosphere is like almost three weeks on from the toxic mood that surrounded the 3-0 defeat to Hull and post the McCarthy announcement.