A universal style, Drinan pushing his case and the man in demand - Hurst watches U23s' Lowestoft draw
PUBLISHED: 21:42 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 22:09 18 July 2018
Andy Warren casts his eye over Ipswich Town's U23s' 1-1 draw with Lowestoft Town - a game watched by Blues boss Paul Hurst.
It ends all square
Manager Paul Hurst added extra intrigue to this game, firstly by admitting a young player ‘had caught his eye’ in training and then by bringing his entire first-team staff to watch.
The potential for yet another young player to push for first-team recognition alongside the likes of Andre Dozzell, Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes is an exciting one, and there were plenty of potential candidates on display here.
Aaron Drinan (more on him later) led the line superbly and scored the opening goal of the game, Jack Lankester looked neat and tidy supporting him, Barry Cotter got forward well from right back and Dylan Crowe moved the ball well in a slightly unfamiliar midfield role.
The Blues dominated much of the play and stretched their opposition from side to side, fighting to win the ball back and move it forward as quickly as possible.
They left the back door open slightly on occasions and were perhaps fortunate to be ahead at the break as the hosts missed a string of chances, despite the Blues having the majority of the ball and taking advantage through Drinan’s well-placed shot.
They were made to pay in the second half as Ben Fowkes found the bottom corner as the hosts worked their way through the middle, and it ended all square.
In truth the result matters little, but there were plenty of positives in the display.
A universal style?
Part of Hurst’s brief upon his Ipswich appointment was to help provide a greater link-up between the Blues’ first-team and the academy.
That work looks to be in evidence already, with the Under 23 side operating a similar system and approach to the game as the one Hurst is trying to install within his first team.
They lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 formation which has been on display during the Blues’ two pre-season games to date, with balls hit quickly to the flanks looking to turn the opposition towards their own goal.
When the ball was lost, the young Blues quickly made their intent to win it back clear, while wingers Jordan Roberts and Folami switched sides on a regular basis.
It wasn’t perfect and mistakes were made, but to see a similar playing style in use across the age groups will surely make the pathway to the first team significantly smoother for what is a talented crop of young players.
Could Drinan be the answer?
In many ways, the young Irishman fits the bill for what Hurst is looking for if he is to play with a central, lone, striker.
He arrived from Waterford with some fanfare in January, with both Mick McCarthy and Luke Chambers speaking extremely highly of his physical attributes and ability on the training field.
That he never made it onto the field under McCarthy was a surprise, but could he be an important piece of the puzzle for Hurst?
He’s raw, of course, but he offers the physical presence, ability to hold the ball up, run with it and turn the opposition defence that Hurst likes in his strikers.
He led the line well at Lowestoft, sliding the first goal of the game home with ease and proving an outlet all night.
Hurst appears to like the look of Waghorn in a more withdrawn role, where he can use his intelligence to dictate play, while both Joe Garner and Freddie Sears play their best football alongside a strike partner.
The Ipswich manager is surely looking to add to his striking ranks this summer, but could part of the answer already be in the building?
The man in demand
National reports have linked Manchester United, Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig with moves for Ipswich Town youngster Dylan Crowe.
The England Under 17 international is most often found at right-back, getting forward superbly to join in attacks and closing the door at the back with his pace.
But on this occasion he was stationed in the middle of midfield.
The Blues are said to be keen to do all they can to tie him down to a professional contract and, on the evidence of this game at least, that is something well worth doing.
While not entirely forcing his dominance on the game in a slightly unfamiliar position, you can just tell he is control of what he’s doing.
He shows for his full-back when the Blues push the ball wide and is quick to move the ball with simple-but-effective passes.
Another with a bright future, which will hopefully be played out at Portman Road.
Minutes for the new man
It was a slight surprise to see Roberts involved at Lowestoft, after he started the first friendly of the summer at Braintree and then was involved again on Tuesday night against Crawley.
He started on the left wing, where he finished Tuesday’s game, and looked to cut inside while also swapping flanks with Folami.
The former Crawley man, who had a long conversation with his former Red Devils boss, Harry Kewell, after Tuesday’s game, found space on a number of occasions but wasn’t ever really to threaten the Trawler Boys’ goal.
He’s sure to be involved again at Barnet on Saturday.
Strong Blues contingent
The Ipswich Town staff were out in force for this one.
Hurst was joined by assistant Chris Doig, fitness coach Nathan Winder and new physio Chris Skitt, to watch the side led by Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg.
Also in attendance was academy chief Bryan Klug and former Ipswich midfielder Geraint Williams, who now works in his former club’s youth system.
Another interested spectator was Ipswich legend Terry Butcher’s father, Leonard, who has been a regular at Lowestoft for many years.
Ipswich Town: Wright; Cotter, Marshall, Ndaba, Webber (Clements 56); Crowe (Dobra 67), McGavin (Scott 78); Folami, Lankester (Brown 56), Roberts; Drinan
Subs not used: Ware, El Mizouni,