Andy’s Angles: McKendry impresses, Cotter’s display and interested spectators - observations from U23 win
PUBLISHED: 16:20 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 17 December 2018
Ipswich Town Under 23s beat Charlton Athletic Under 23s 2-0 at Playford Road this afternoon. ANDY WARREN gives his observations from the game.
Tale of the game
It wasn’t quite the six-goal thriller we were treated to last Monday, in the 3-3 draw with QPR, but the young Blues produced a solid display as they ran out 2-0 winners.
Conor McKendry and Ben Folami scored the goals for a young Ipswich side including no senior players, securing their place at the top of the Professional Development League Two South table.
McKendry’s goal was the pick of the bunch, as he cut inside and fired home off the bar following a corner, before Folami kept his cool late on to find the net in the closing minutes.
Harry Wright was needed to make a string of good saves to keep the game scoreless, while Idris El Mizouni once again impressed as he found freedom in midfield.
Ipswich Town: Wright, Cotter, Clements (Webber 88), McGavin, Marshall, Ndaba, McKendry (Hughes 90), Dobra, Folami, El Mizouni, Drinan (Brown 88). Unused: Simpson, Egan.
No senior involvement
No members of the Ipswich side in this fixture have played in the first team this season, with Paul Lambert opting to pull his senior fringe players from action.
The Ipswich boss spoke last week of how he will never make decisions on senior players, based on their displays on age group football, and you have to feel he’s right.
First-teamers find it hard to play in games lacking the same physicality, intensity and meaning they are faced with in the Championship, but that’s not to say Under 23 football isn’t vitally important.
A lack of senior involvement meant a chance for some of the Blues’ younger players to take centre stage, with the likes of El Mizouni taking that chance. Last week he lined up in a midfield also including Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop. This week he saw more of the ball and was able to express himself.
Corrie Ndaba once again showed he is a reliable young defender, having sat out last week’s 3-3 draw with QPR to allow Janoi Donacien and Toto Nsiala to play, while the same can be said for Bailey Clements, who missed out in lieu of Myles Kenlock.
Armando Dobra, an Under 18s regular, also got a start and moved the ball nicely.
The right side
It was interesting to watch the dynamic between Irishmen McKendry and Barry Cotter down the Ipswich right
McKendry, from north of the border, has spent spells out on loan and has become something of a forgotten man in many ways. But the Northern Ireland youth international showed some really nice touches and good vision as he worked the ball in the final third and slipped players in behind.
His goal was superb, as he fired in off the bar from outside the box, while he had another effort well-saved in the second half.
He can perhaps be guilty of holding onto the ball a little long and Cotter, from the Republic of Ireland, was the first to let him know. The two clearly get on well and communicated well throughout – both by encouraging each other and pointing out areas for improvement.
For Cotter, this was one of his most assured Under 23 displays of the season so far.
He has not hit the heights he managed in the draw on his senior debut against Barnsley in April and has found some opposing left wingers hard to handle. But today he was comfortable throughout, showed some excellent touches going forward and was unlucky to see a first-half shot clatter the post.
Folami and Aaron Drinan were two of the more familiar names in the Ipswich starting XI, with both men seeing more of the ball in the second half.
Folami, who started as the central striker having played much of his football wide on the left this season, grew into the game as the contest went on. The Australian saw more of the ball and worked his way towards goal, having one effort well-saved in the second period before holding off his man and picking his spot to score the Blues’ second late on.
Drinan was deployed wide on the left and struggled to see much of the ball for long periods, but was able to get on the ball and drive towards goal during the second period.
It was puzzling the Irishman never made his Ipswich debut during the final months of Mick McCarthy’s reign, given how highly the former boss spoke of him, but it looks as though he will have to wait a while yet for a senior chance.
Tristan Nydam and Ben Morris were at Playford Road to watch their friends in action during this game as they checked in with their parent club.
The duo, on loan at St Johnstone and Forest Green respectively, looked to be enjoying what they were seeing having played alongside many of those on the pitch for long spells of their time in football.
Lambert has said he is considering recalling some of his young loanees in January.
Nydam’s time at St Johnstone, which has largely been spent on the bench, is up at the start of 2019 in any case and looks almost certain to return to Portman Road. Whether he is able to challenge for a place in a senior midfield already including a host of youngsters, remains to be seen.
Morris’s loan at Forest Green started slowly but he’s been playing more and more of late.