Ipswich Town beat Aston Villa: Five things we learned
08:41 13 February 2017
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Ipswich Town won 1-0 at Aston Villa on Saturday courtesy of Emyr Huws’ late goal. STUART WATSON takes a look at what we learnt from the game.
Villa were the better team in the first half as ex-Norwich man Henri Lansbury pulled the strings. Bartosz Bialkowski did superbly to keep out Tommy Elphick’s low shot through a crowded box, while Birkir Bjarnason struck the post with a thumping effort.
Town had posed a threat on the counter though and shifted the momentum of the match in their favour after the break. Spence stabbed a golden chance wide following a scramble at a corner and David McGoldrick glanced a header just over.
The hosts looked like they might take charge again in the closing stages and McGoldrick was to clear a Scott Hogan header off the line in the 81st minute. Moments later, McGolrick seized on a loose ball after Tommy Elphick slipped and tried to foul Tom Lawrence. His low cross was inch-perfect and Emyr Huws timed his late run into the six-yard to perfection to stab home.
Town are the first team to win at Villa Park since the Midlands club’s 28-year stay in top-flight was ended last season. This was the Blues’ first victory against Villa since Gavin Johnson scored the only goal of the game at Villa Park in a Premiership match back in 1994.
Steve Bruce spent more than £20m in the January transfer window.
His entire squad cost around £77m to assemble. Ipswich’s, by contrast, was pieced together for just £1.5m.
Villa are now winless in eight games and drop to 16th in the Championship table, while Town leapfrog them into 13th – 13 points adrift of the play-off places and 10 above the drop zone.
Even with Cole Skuse failing a fitness test (Achilles) and new loan striker Dominic Samuel ruled out for up to six weeks with a broken toe, McCarthy still had to leave six first-team players out of his 18-man squad. Teddy Bishop, Jonathan Douglas, Danny Rowe, Tommy Smith, Andre Dozzell and Paul Digby all failed to make the cut.
At last there is some competition for places in all areas of the team and that has seen several players raise their games.
It’s just as well there were so many options because they were needed after Steven Taylor (hamstring) and Christophe Berra (potential concussion) both were forced off through injury in the 25th and 45th minutes respectively.
The fit-again Myles Kenlock carried on where he left off before a calf injury when coming on at left wing-back, while Jonas Knudsen – who had his best game in ages – moved inside and looks well-suited to playing in a back three.
Jordan Spence has played centre-back before and physically he is suited to it. He was by no means a weak link there. Josh Emmanuel certainly needs to remain at right wing-back because he is getting better by the game in that role.
How good was it to see the Luke Chambers post-match celebratory fist-pump back?
The Blues skipper had a move back to his former club of Nottingham Forest blocked by manager Mick McCarthy on transfer deadline day and he is still to be offered a contract extension beyond this summer, but any question marks as to whether he would remain focused on the task in hand have been well-and-truly answered with some impassioned displays.
The 31-year-old has looked so much more suited to playing in a back three. On Saturday, with his two central defensive partners both going off injured in the first half, he led by example.
Two fine pieces of defending in the second half came at a moment when the home fans in the Holte End were really starting to roar their team on. First he flung himself in the way of a dangerous Birkir Bjarnson cross at the near post then, moments later, he kept pace with and then out-muscled £9m striker Scott Hogan.
MCGOLDRICK’S BACK AT IT
It’s been two years of injury frustration for Town’s former talisman. He’s often cut a frustrated figure when he has been able to get out on the pitch during that time, but has looked like the player of old since this latest comeback. He’s now produced two classy assists in as many games.
McCarthy said: “I said to Didz ‘you won us the game’. Okay, Emyr has done that by putting the ball in the net but Didz kept calm when he could have shot from the angle. He is clever enough to pick out a pass like he did. He’s fit and right back at it now and he makes a big difference to us.”