Stu says: Dobra dangerous, confident Cotter and a title chase – Town U23s win again
PUBLISHED: 17:24 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:10 25 February 2019
Ipswich Town’s Under-23s beat their Colchester United counterparts 4-1 at Playford Road this afternoon. STUART WATSON reports.
This was a comfortable victory for top against bottom.
Armando Dobra’s low cross forced Tyrique Hyde into an early own goal (8), before Corrie Ndaba’s short back pass presented Ken Charles with the chance to poke home an equaliser (22).
Kai Brown pounced after Dobra’s shot was spilled to restore the Blues’ lead (51), then Brown’s pin-point drilled cross left Bailey Clements with a simple finish (64)
Substitute Tommy Hughes won and converted a penalty (78) to complete the scoring.
Town are four points clear at the summit of the Professional Development League Two South table with six games to play.
Claim that top spot and they would face off against the winners of the North division – currently Leeds – for the title.
There has been a lot of talk about the youth teams mirroring the way the first team plays.
It may have been coincidence, but the U23s played with a wing-back system just two days after Paul Lambert’s men had operated with that up at Wigan.
Josh Emmanuel, sent back from his loan spell at League One club Shrewsbury Town after falling out of favour under a new manager, showed power and positivity down the right. The end product wasn’t always refined though.
On the other side, Clements looked assured going both directions. His late replacement, Pat Webber, then produced an athletic cameo.
With Jonas Knudsen’s time at the club coming to an end, the Blues appear to have a couple of good left-backs to put pressure on Myles Kenlock.
DOBRA DEAL NEXT?
Armando Dobra was the only player in the starting XI not to have a professional deal. There’s every chance he’ll be joining Idris El Mizouni, Brown and Harry Wright in getting one soon.
A diminutive attacker who recently represented Albania’s U19s, his neat footwork and sharp turning circle is a joy to watch.
He usually operates as a No.10 or out wide but, on this occasion, he played up top alongside Brown. That’s because of the striker shortage – Ben Folami and Ben Morris both out injured and Aaron Drinan having joined former club Waterford on loan.
Brown, recruited from Grays Athletic a year ago, pressed high and looked sharp. You can see why the Blues tied the 17-year-old down to a pro deal recently.
Toto Nsiala played at the heart of the back three. These sort of tippy-tappy games don’t show off his best attributes given the lack of aerial duels and full-bloodied challenges. His distribution out the back was hit and miss and he spent much of the latter stages moaning at the referee.
Andre Dozzell, on the right side of the midfield three, had moments of class when spraying long-range passes. The 19-year-old is judged by high standards though and doesn’t boss these games enough.
It was Brett McGavin through whom much of the play in the middle third went. Tall, competitive and tidy in possession, he looks to have improved since a loan spell at Bury Town alongside Jack Lankester last season.
LACK OF LAMBERT
Lambert has his players in on a Sunday, with Monday now a designated day off. For that reason, he and his support staff were not in attendance.
Cole Skuse, with his son on his shoulders, was there to provide support, as is so often the case.
Tristan Nydam, you would assume, must be carrying an injury given his lack of involvement.
He watched from the sidelines alongside Morris, Lankester, Chris Smith (all injured) and Conor McKendry (recently on trial at Wigan).
HARRY AND BARRY
What goalkeeper Harry Wright lacks for in size, he makes up for in ability on the ball.
The 20-year-old produced one arrowed kick out of the hands which dropped perfectly into the path of El Mizouni.
He made a couple of strong one-handed stops when called upon and was vocal throughout.
Talking of vocal... Barry Cotter doesn’t lack confidence. The Irishman could be heard telling the experienced Nsiala he was ‘all over the gaff’ at one stage.
He produced a couple of rampaging runs out from the back and had one stinging shot saved.
TEAM: Wright, Emmanuel, Cotter, Ndaba (cpt), Nsiala, Clements (Webber 82), McGavin, Dozzell, Dobra (Hughes 76), El Mizouni (Foudil 76), K Brown. Unused: Egan, Z Brown.