Win hides poor performance
Ipswich Town 2Osasuna 1A WIN and a couple of goals should all have added up to good night's work as Ipswich wrapped up their pre-season unbeaten in three home games, writes Derek Davis.
Ipswich Town 2
A WIN and a couple of goals should all have added up to good night's work as Ipswich wrapped up their pre-season unbeaten in three home games, writes Derek Davis.
But the scoreline hides a pretty mediocre performance from the Blues, who looked far from convincing against a Spanish side playing only their second game of the summer.
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Perhaps, after the fabulous atmosphere of last Wednesday night's Dale Roberts testimonial against Newcastle, the Ipswich lads could not get up for it in front of less than 5,000, but the first half was poor from Town.
They had two chances and took both, although there was a touch of fortune with each, while only dreadful finishing from the Spaniards, and Kelvin Davis, prevented them getting three or four.
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Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts, now with Gillingham, was watching from the directors' box and he will know Saturday, with a 20,000-plus crowd booing his every touch, will be a different matter.
More worrying was an early injury to Kevin Horlock, who went off after 27 minutes following a tackle which left him with a sore knee.
There was further concern when Jason De Vos went off after 80 minutes following a blow to a knee. Both players will be examined further this morning to ensure there is no ligament damage.
Hopefully, both will have recovered sufficiently for the Gills' visit on Saturday.
Matt Richards missed out with a cut foot, Fabian Wilnis filling in at left-back, while Drissa Diallo kept his place at right-back.
A thigh strain kept Jim Magilton out with De Vos captaining the side again, but the midfield didn't look its usual self without the Irishman and Horlock's exit.
Blues boss Joe Royle was pleased to win but recognised the passing was poor and admitted the lack of depth in the squad was obvious.
He said: "That was probably the worst we have played but given the influential players missing it shows from that performance, and the Newcastle game, how important our big players are to us.
"I was pleased we hung on the way we did but I just hope by playing on the Monday after not being able to get Lazio when we wanted, it has not cost us in terms of injury.
"We were not physically overawed in a game that was hardly Copa de la Goodwill."
The game started lively enough with Inaki Munoz missing two decent chances for the Spaniards in the opening few minutes. Firstly he side-footed wide from eight yards when he was picked out unmarked in the area, then he headed an Mohammed El Yaagoubi's free kick directly into the well-positioned Davis' arms, again after slipping his marker.
But it was Town who went ahead on 10 minutes when Counago knocked in his fourth goal in seven pre-season appearances.
Bowditch's shot was half-blocked by Romero's backside and the ball fell for Counago to turn and finish.
Valmiro Valdo scorned another good chance for Osasuna when he lofted a through ball over the bar from a Cruchaga free-kick.
Former Barcelona winger El Yaagoubi went close with a long-distance free-kick and he looked a lively customer.
Davis made a decent one-handed save from Savo Milosevic and then pulled off a terrific stop to deny a wicked 25-yarder from skipper Cruchaga. The Town keeper was at it once more in the second half, clawing away a 35-yard drive from Cruchaga again.
Town's second was well finished by Kuqi, after selling a dummy by kicking the turf first, and then curling the ball in from eight yards after a slick build up involving Counago and Bowditch on the half-hour.
Milosevic, who signed from Parma last month after spending a season at Celta Vigo, missed a glorious chance from a corner but somehow steered his header wide from four yards.
The frustrated ex-Aston Villa striker was not happy about the way things were going against him and petulantly kicked the ball towards the Town dug-out when the half-time whistle went.
The Spaniards played the ball around neatly but there was far too much niggly things happening to make it a good game.
Richard Naylor sliced into his own net from an El Yaagoubi cross but Milosevic was lurking in an offside position so the effort was ruled out.
The bullish boys scored a deserved consolation two minutes from time when Miquel Flano found himself unmarked eight yards out and outguessed Davis to chip in.
Town ended the game under pressure, having gone the whole second half without testing the substitute keeper.
In the big scheme of things it may not matter but the warning signs are there and lessons to be learned.
Ipswich Town: Davis, Diallo, Wilnis, Naylor, De Vos (Barron, 80) Horlock (Murray, 27) Kuqi (Bent, 46) Miller, Counago (Nouma, 59) Westlake (Mitchell, 74) Bowditch. Sub not used: Price.
Osasuna: Sanzol (Flano, 46) Izquierdo (Webo, 61) Clavero, Romero (Flano, 46) Cruchago, Valdo (Exposito, 61) Munoz Yoldi, 83) Ortiz (Lopez), Milosevic, Punal, El Yaagoubi (Seguro, 83) Subs not used: Jimenez, Flano, Corrales.
Referee: K Wright.