Andy’s Angles: Five observations as Blues secure first win under Hurst at Swansea
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Ipswich Town beat Swansea City 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon. ANDY WARREN gives his snap observations
Relief and jubilation
It’s been a long time coming and it was certainly dramatic when it came.
Ipswich haven’t done things the easy way this season and didn’t again this afternoon as they secured their first win under Paul Hurst - slipping behind, fighting back, surrendering their own lead and then securing a late victory to send the away fans wild.
A scrappy 1-0 win would have done, anything to get this monkey off their backs, but to do it in this fashion should be the ultimate confidence booster for Paul Hurst and his players.
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There was a mixture of relief and jubilation at the final whistle with players slumped on the pitch, hugging each other and saluting the away support before Luke Chambers treated the travelling fans to his iconic fist pumps.
Those supporters travelling to the game in south Wales will be forgiven for doing so more in hope than expectation, but they and the team will leave with renewed optimism.
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This should the pressure that has visibly grown over the Ipswich squad in recent weeks but, as Hurst was at pains to point out in his press conference both before and after this game, this is just the first step.
There is a lot of hard work ahead.
Character in the extreme
It looked as if it was going to be a long old afternoon for Ipswich Town after Connor Roberts’ shot somehow found the back of the Ipswich net after just seven minutes.
Time and again the Blues were under pressure down their right but they kept plugging away and managed to lead at the break through Gwion Edwards and Mike van der Hoorn’s own goal.
It would have been easy to fold, but they didn’t. They kept playing despite being on the back foot and got their reward.
The pressure continued after the break and that sinking feeling, last felt at Birmingham a week ago, reared its head again after former Ipswich loanee Bersant Celina slammed his new side level.
But that character showed itself again, with players throughout the side getting head and feet on the ball to clear.
To their credit the Blues kept playing, won a corner and Chalobah headed home.
The Ipswich players have been accused of lacking such character and desire during the early weeks of Hurst’s reign but it was in full evidence today.
How good must it have felt for teenager Dozzell to be starting a competitive game of football for the first time in more than a year.
The young England international lost a year of his career to the cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered on the opening day of the last campaign, with his return managed extremely carefully since Hurst and his medical team began work in the summer.
His much-anticipated first start, which following a positive cameo as a substitute against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, produced early promise as he got on the ball well and threaded two superb passes through to Freddie Sears prior to the first Swansea goal.
He showed what he’s all about; neat touches, responsible in possession and rarely gave the ball away.
His influence lessened as the Blues began to play down the flank and he drifted in and out of the game in the second half but this was a hugely encouraging 80 minutes of football.
He clearly has a big role to play.
Another bold selection call
Just a few months ago it would have been unthinkable to picture Jonas Knudsen and Bartosz Bialkowski sat side by side on an Ipswich Town bench.
But that’s exactly where the Blues’ two World Cup stars found themselves this afternoon.
Like Bialkowski, Danish left-back Jonas Knudsen has not produced his best displays in the early weeks of the Paul Hurst era, but it was still a major surprise to see him dropped to the bench.
With Myles Kenlock out with an ankle injury, Janoi Donacien came in at left back to occupy a position he spent time in during Accrington’s League Two-winning title season.
The Blues were stretched throughout, most notably down their right, but Donacien was replaced at the break and Knudsen returned to the side.
He is with the Denmark squad during the international break and you feel he will regain his place upon his return.
Sears the lone ranger
Freddie Sears leading the line alone is not a scenario anyone envisaged as recently as a week ago, with the striker seemingly far from Hurst’s plans.
But he did well when introduced at Birmingham, threatened Middlesbrough and was outstanding today.
He hassled, harried and stretched the hosts. He created Gwion Edwards’ goal and forced van der Hoorn to put into his own net for the second.
His team-mates used him well, kept the ball down and supported him and he rewarded them.
With Ellis Harrison and Jon Walters injured, Sears and Kayden Jackson will shoulder the load for now.
This was hugely promising.