Stu says: Seven observations following Ipswich Town’s 4-0 win at Reading
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Ipswich Town scored four late goals – including two in stoppage-time – to win 4-0 at Reading this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
What a turnaround
There were some who said Ipswich would not have lost 4-0 at home to Aston Villa last weekend had Mick McCarthy still been in charge. Perhaps that is true (though there was a similar collapse in the 4-1 defeat at Fulham after Jordan Spence was sent off).
You certainly never felt like Ipswich would win by four goals under McCarthy either. In fact, they managed it just once during his five-and-a-bit years in charge – 4-0 at home to Middlesbrough in February 2013. Perhaps it’s unkind to point out that assistant Terry Connor was in charge that day due to Mick being ill.
The Blues just seem to have balanced the risk versus reward scale under Bryan Klug following so much binary boredom.
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Adding to the belligerent base
Caretaker assistant Chris Hogg said in the build-up that Town must not lose the hard-working, disciplined, stay-in-the-game ethos instilled by McCarthy. Crucially, he added that they must try and ‘add that extra little bit of quality, patience and care in the final third’.
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A lot about the tactical set-up was very McCarthy-esque today. Out of possession it was very much a disciplined 5-4-1, with a shift to 3-4-3 once on the ball. Up until the deadlock was broken in the 71st minute there wasn’t a lot in this match.
The real difference was the decision-making on the ball. Players were trying to make angles and make sharp exchanges when possible. It didn’t always come off, but the right intent was there. For once, you sensed they might just carve something out at any given moment.
And when they did get their noses in front they smelt blood rather than trying to shut up shop.
The average age of Town’s 10 outfield starting players was 23.
Striker Ben Folami, 18, and defender Luke Woolfenden, 19, made their full league debuts, while they were joined by two other homegrown youngsters in Myles Kenlock, 21, and Tristan Nydam, 18.
Folami in particular was impressive today, the Australian striker running himself into the ground.
Then you have to consider that the likes of Andre Dozzell, Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop and Josh Emmanuel will come back into the mix next season too.
Teenage defender Chris Smith was absent with a back injury (hence Woolfenden’s recall from Bromley), while youngsters Michael Crowe, Barry Cotter, Ben Morris and Shane McLoughlin were all on the bench.
Relief for Freddie
There was a sharp intake of breath when Freddie Sears – on as a first-half sub for the injured Mustapha Carayol – charged down keeper Vito Mannone outside of the box.
The ball ballooned high up into the air and took an age to drop. When it did, the front man was thankfully left with the simple task of nodding in on the goalline.
It ended a year-long, 38-game goal drought which stretched back to that 3-1 home win against Newcastle on Easter Monday last year.
Every single player rushed to celebrate with the front man, including goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski. That shows you the team spirit in this group.
That’s now 15 goals and 10 assists for Martyn Waghorn in his debut season for the Blues. Not a bad return for someone who cost just £250k from Rangers. I make that £10k for every goal he has had a hand in.
He took his first coolly after staying marginally onside. The first-time pass around the corner when tight to the touchline for Jordan Spence’s goal was sublime.
And he showed good composure and awareness to slip in Callum Connolly for the fourth.
Mustapha Carayol was Town’s biggest threat in a fairly even first half. He was quick, direct and had a dipping 30-yarder pushed around the post…
…And then the winger pulled up with a muscle injury and had to be replaced just a minute before the break.
It was an afternoon that provided a neat snapshot of the 29-year-old’s time at Town since arriving on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest in January.
Over five starts and three substitute appearances he has shown plenty of ability, but a poor injury record will come into the thinking when Town decide whether to offer him a deal this summer.
Reading were roundly booed off at the end and didn’t even bother coming back out for the traditional end of season lap which follows the final home game of the season.
The Royals head to Cardiff next weekend still needing a point to guarantee survival.
Boss Paul Clements pulled no punches in his post-match assessment, calling it an ‘embarrassing’ collapse.
It just shows you how quickly things can change in football, with the Berkshire side having finished third before losing the Play-Off Final on penalties last year.