Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers
PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:37 20 September 2020
Pagepix Ltd.07976 935738
Ipswich Town moved to the top of the League One table with a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.
As this game wore on, you began to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.
The Blues had a degree of control without it really leading to anything. On several occasions, passes went into touch. And when the ball was worked into dangerous areas, the final cross was lacking.
Freddie Sears testing the keeper with a low bending free-kick was as near as Town came to scoring.
Rovers created little from open play, but twice went close from set-pieces as both Alfie Kilgour and Brandon Hanlan were a whisker away from connecting with Zain Westbrooke’s deep deliveries.
And so it was that Paul Lambert turned to his bench for some spark.
First, Jack Lankester replaced Freddie Sears in the 63rd minute. Then, five minutes later, Flynn Downes and Oli Hawkins came on for Bishop and Norwood – both of whom had struggled to get a real foothold in the game.
The trio made a real difference.
Downes immediately helped raise the tempo with his all-action energy. Following two impressive cameos, he’s already banging on the door for a return to the starting XI post transfer request fall-out.
Hawkins occupied tiring centre-backs with his physicality to create space for others.
Lankester, however, was the real headline act though. In what was his first competitive game since January 2019, he left the field with two assists.
The 20-year-old provided a dangerous inswinging cross from the right which Max Ehmer was forced to head past his own keeper in the 80th minute, then played a neat forward pass for Jon Nolan’s 89th minute clincher.
After two serious back injuries and a recent case of concussion suffered on the training field, this was a day that has been a long-time coming for the talented youngster.
JONNY ON THE SPOT
Nolan made a difficult goal look effortless, shifting the ball away from the defence with his right foot and then rolling the ball back across the keeper into the far bottom corner with his left.
That’s now two goals in five games from him at the start of this season. The way he times his runs into the box suggest there could be plenty more to come too.
This is a man, remember, who was brought to Town off the back of a 10-goal campaign for Shrewsbury in League One.
Having finished the match with an impressive 88% pass accuracy, there’s a strong argument that’s been Ipswich’s man-of-the-match two weekends in a row now.
Andre Dozzell, once again, played incisive passes with surgical precision from a deep-lying midfield role. We know that’s what he’s about.
Just as impressively, much like Downes at the start of last season, you can see the 21-year-old adding extra layers to his game now he’s finally being trusted with a run in the side.
Often man-marked, he moved intelligently and showed some physicality. As well as the passing, we’re seeing tackles and interceptions now too.
Towards the end he was still going strong, bursting past a man to put a cross on Hawkins’ head.
Including the initial cup clash with Bristol Rovers, that’s played three, won three against League One opposition.
It’s scored seven, none against. It’s six points on the board, top of the league.
Yes, yes, it’s very early days. Last season has taught us not to get carried away by good starts. Rovers and Wigan look mid-to-bottom half sides at best. Let’s see what happens when Town face a promotion rival.
The encouraging thing is that, perhaps unlike at the start of last season, the points Ipswich are claiming are underpinned by performances of real substance.
In game one against Bristol Rovers it was 15 shots on goal (10 on target). Against Wigan, it was 16 shots (seven on target). At the Memorial Stadium it was 13 shots (six on target).
The lively Gwion Edwards could have had a hat-trick in the final half hour, twice testing the keeper and also seeing one cleared off the line, while Hawkins headed a glorious chance wide.
When a team truly believes they have goals in them it takes a lot of pressure off the defence.