Sunday Snap: Hits, misses and talkings points from Ipswich Town’s Middlesbrough loss

PUBLISHED: 01:24 30 December 2018

Ipswich Captain Luke Chambers applauds the travelling fans at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

Ipswich Captain Luke Chambers applauds the travelling fans at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

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Andy Warren takes a snappy look back at the events and talking points surrounding Ipswich Town’s 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough.

Jon Nolan plays the ball forward at The Riverside Picture PagepixJon Nolan plays the ball forward at The Riverside Picture Pagepix

Star man

Midfielder Jon Nolan’s wayward pass at QPR proved to be the catalyst for defeat on Boxing Day, overshadowing what was actually a good performance from the former Shrewsbury man.

This was another.

He was secure on the ball and brings others into play with quick passes and clever balls. He links play well and was a key member of the Ipswich high press during this game.

Luke Chambers consoles goalkeeper Dean Gerken at Middlesbrough Picture PagepixLuke Chambers consoles goalkeeper Dean Gerken at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

He could still do more, though. A lot of his work goes unnoticed and he needs to take games by the scruff of the neck more regularly and play with urgency.

Middlebrough's George Friend is hustled off the ball by Flynn Downes Picture PagepixMiddlebrough's George Friend is hustled off the ball by Flynn Downes Picture Pagepix

Could have done more

Goalkeeper Dean Gerken’s reaction to Middlesbrough’s second goal said it all, with the stopper holding his head in his hands after Marcus Tavernier’s prod crept under him at his near post.

The former Colchester man otherwise had a decent game, with two second half saves the highlight.

Freddie Sears with a first half chance at Middlesbrough Picture PagepixFreddie Sears with a first half chance at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

Goalkeepers are judged on big moments, though, and Gerken could have done more here, just as he could with QPR’s opener on Boxing Day.

Both he and Bialkowski have lost their places in the team due to errors this season and it remains to be seen if and when Lambert opts to give the Pole another chance.

Honourable mention

Youngster Flynn Downes was the pick of the Ipswich performers on Boxing Day and he impressed again in this contest.

A grim-faced Paul Lambert after the defeat at Middlesbrough Picture PagepixA grim-faced Paul Lambert after the defeat at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

During the first half he was quick to snaffle loose ball after loose ball and is playing with added confidence following the appointment of Paul Lambert.

The yellow card he picked up in the final minutes of the opening half saw him got into his shell a little and limited his impact as he walked the disciplinary tightrope, but this was otherwise a good performance.

Unused Sub Jonas Knudsen waves to the travelling fans after the defeat at Middlesbrough Picture PagepixUnused Sub Jonas Knudsen waves to the travelling fans after the defeat at Middlesbrough Picture Pagepix

Big moment

There were more 300 hardy Town fans at Boro on Saturday Picture: PAGEPIX LTDThere were more 300 hardy Town fans at Boro on Saturday Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich were already 1-0 down, with the first half drawing to a close, when Kayden Jackson forced a mistake from Aden Flint to begin the move which led to Ipswich’s best chance of the game. Nolan played a good pass to Freddie Sears who had his shot blocked by goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

Though Nolan’s pass was a positive one, hindsight might suggest a square ball to Gwion Edwards would have given the Welshman a better angle from which to shoot.

Had he found the net, things could have been so different, with a Boro team under real pressure from unhappy supporters looking there for the taking.

Things you might have missed

Lambert and Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis shared a laugh and a joke prior to kick-off at the Riverside, with both men wearing beaming smiles on their faces as they spoke ahead of the game.

Maybe they were discussing their experiences at Stoke? Or maybe January targets were on the agenda.

The Blues were linked with a move for Middlesbrough striker Rudy Gestede earlier in the transfer window, with neither manager completely shooting the prospect of such a move down.

Lambert cast an envious eye to Middlesbrough’s bench, which he said cost more than his entire squad, but the Teessiders’ riches go beyond that.

Former Ipswich captain Grant Leadbitter has not been included in a league squad since August and, not involved again, spent the hour before kick-off sat in the Riverside media room watching the Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic.

At 32 he holds the type of Championship experience Lambert definitely craves. What price a reunion?

The (increasingly worrying) stat

Ipswich Town have now conceded at least two goals in each of their last 12 away games. In fact, the only time they’ve avoided letting in two goals on their league travels this season was the visit to Rotherham back in August.

The 27 goals shipped on the road is the most in the division this season and that, coupled with the fact they’ve only managed eight of their own (a league low), will never be a recipe for success.

Reading too much into this?

The first player to head to applaud the travelling Ipswich Town support at full-time was unused substitute Jonas Knudsen.

So was the Danish international saying goodbye?

Knudsen appears certain to depart Portman Road in 2019 but when that parting of ways occurs remains to be seen.

He’s out of contract in the summer and has spoken of his interest in leaving for a new challenge, with the Dane able to sign a pre-contract agreement with a new club in January.

With Callum Elder set to sign on loan from Leicester, would Ipswich consider recouping a small amount of the £300,000 paid for the 26-year-old back in 2015?

Final thought

It took little encouragement for the Middlesbrough supporters to vent their frustrations at their team during yesterday’s game.

Every loose pass (and there were quite few of them) was greeted by jeers and groans, with the supporters deeply unhappy with a run which had seen them win just one of their previous five home games and a brand of football not in keeping with their position in the table.

Those connected with Ipswich know better than most how infuriating it can be when the mood surrounding a club is judged by those lacking the week-to-week knowledge of the situation, of course, but it’s strange to see a side currently in the thick of the promotion race being booed by their own support.

It’s to the Ipswich supporters’ eternal credit, then, that a team currently languishing at the bottom of the table and staring down the prospect of relegation is being provided with every ounce of encouragement and support they could ask for.

Lambert has ensured a sense of unity in the battle to beat the drop, but with home clashes again Millwall and Rotherham on the horizon it’s results rather than words that will ensure the positivity continues.

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