Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: ‘A reminder of how fragile the feelgood factor is – now Ipswich Town must prove they have truly turned a corner’
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Luke Chambers’ late header rescued Ipswich Town a 2-2 draw at Peterborough yesterday and maintained an unbeaten start to life in League One. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
It's a decent start - no more, no less.
For a club that had developed a nasty losing habit, that is decimated by injuries and who are still trying to get some business done, an unbeaten start to life in League One against three teams tipped to be in the promotion mix is certainly not be sniffed at.
Nearly (but didn't) let the lead slip at Burton. Should've (but didn't) beat Sunderland at a packed Portman Road. Perhaps didn't deserve (but got) a point at Peterborough.
All things considered, five points from nine has to be viewed positively. We'd have all probably taken that if offered before a ball was kicked.
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It's just as well Luke Chambers popped up at the death on Saturday. Social media was full of doom and gloom as Town appeared to be drifting towards defeat.
The scapegoat search was gathering momentum. Chambers is past it. Holy is a mistake waiting to happen. The full-backs are not good enough.
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Bigger worries grew too. Where's the creativity? Just what is our style of play? How are we getting outplayed by Peterborough?
This was opposition that had lost their opening three games of the season. And then, as the saying goes, 'along come Ipswich'.
There are some valid debates in there, but they are ones that should be conducted measuredly.
Were Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock well below-par? Yes. Have they shown they can play better in the past? Yes. Do their respective weaknesses outweigh their strengths? Time will tell. Is Lambert aware they both need some competition? Yes.
That's why Kane Vincent-Young has been brought in. And when the wingers are back to full fitness, it's not out of the question that Luke Garbutt drops back to left-back too.
Should James Wilson be in the team ahead of Chambers at the moment? No way. Will Chambers' place be guaranteed when Toto Nsiala is fit again? No. Lambert's made that clear.
Is 4-4-2 the formation that Lambert really wants to play in the long run? And does he really want to play direct? I don't think so. But right now, with creative talent semi-fit or injured, it's the system which best suits his personnel.
Posh are a good side. They will be up there. Why did anyone simply expect Town to beat them? Let's do a few quick player comparisons.
Ivan Toney scored 23 goals in this division last year. James Norwood has spent his whole career playing below this level.
Cole Skuse, 33, has bags of Championship experience. George Boyd, 33, has played three seasons in the Premier League.
Town paid a seven-figure fee for Kayden Jackson - an ex non-league striker who had one hot season in League Two and then struggled to find his feet in the Championship. Posh paid a seven-figure fee for Mo Eisa - an ex non-league striker who had one hot season in League Two and then struggled to find his feet in the Championship.
Their highly-rated young centre-back, Frankie Kent, has played more than 100 Football League games. Town's two rookie defenders, Luke Woolfenden and Myles Kenlock, have less than that between them.
You get the point.
Had Norwood netted his spot-kick, Town may well have gone on to win and there would have been a feeling of lift-off. Had Chambers not salvaged a point then there would have been talk of struggles ahead.
It's all a reminder of just how fragile this feelgood factor surrounding Town's 'League One tour' really is.
The big crowds, both home and away, demonstrate just how of an appetite there is among people for this grand old football club to build some momentum, at whatever level, and be relevant again.
However, Blues fans have developed a pessimistic outer shell to protect against pain and disappointment in recent years. Rightly, it's going to take more than what we've seen so far to convince them a corner has been truly turned.
And now there is a golden chance to do just that.
AFC Wimbledon - a team who narrowly escaped relegation last season - visit Portman Road on Tuesday night. They let a 1-0 home lead slip against 10-man Accrington Stanley at the weekend.
On Saturday, it's a trip to crisis club Bolton. Lambert cannot hide behind 'we have a young side' excuses there. Trotters boss Phil Parkinson is having to play the Under-18s at present with senior players on strike. They lost 5-0 to Tranmere at the weekend.
Then the opening month concludes with a home game against Shrewsbury. They've scored once in four games.
If you do the player-by-player comparison with those clubs, Town - on paper, at least - come out on top in all departments.
It's been a decent start - no more, no less. Now let's see what Ipswich Town are really made of.