Stu says: Nine observations following Ipswich Town's 1-0 EFL Trophy defeat at Colchester
PUBLISHED: 02:37 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 02:37 13 November 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town have finished second in their EFL Trophy group after losing 1-0 at Colchester United last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Ok, so it may have only been down the road, but 2,781 Blues fans turning up for an EFL Trophy virtual dead rubber was remarkable.
Hundreds of them missed the start due to problems on the A12, it was freeing cold and there was little in way of goalmouth excitement. But that didn't stop the away supporters from chanting non-stop to the beat of a drum throughout the game.
Oh, and guess who turned up again? Ed Sheeran. The singing superstar, who has some free time on his hands after finishing the highest grossing music tour ever, has a 100% attendance record when it comes to watching Ipswich in this much-derided competition this season.
Paul Lambert is right, this is 'nae normal'.
CLAMPIN CLUMPS IT
This game was settled by a freak goal.
Town were looking to counter-attack when the ball broke between Town midfielder Idris El Mizouni and U's left-back Ryan Clampin. El Mizouni didn't fully commit to the block and Clampin, going in full steam to what he thought would be a 50/50 collision, thumped the ball from a full 40 yards out.
He caught it a treat and the tackle turned into a inch perfect 'shot' which flew over Tomas Holy and into the yet. Yes, Town's keeper may be 6ft 9in but there can be no fault laid at his door.
It was tough to take given Holy had very little to do prior to that. Following a largely forgettable first half, Ipswich had always looked the more likely to win it after the break.
With Armando Dobra away with the Albanian U19s, it provided a chance for Idris El Mizouni to take centre stage.
The Paris-born, Tunisian youth international furthered his reputation with a lively display. Playing in the No,10 role, he was the one who looked most likely to make things happen with constant positive play. In the first half he saw a stinging long-range shot tipped over, while after the break he saw a curling effort deflected just wide.
Brett McGavin made his senior debut from the start. Son of former Colchester striker Steve (who left the academy recruitment team at Ipswich to join Norwich), the 19-year-old is a tall, deep-lying midfielder. There are obvious comparisons with Cole Skuse in the way he quietly but effectively goes about his business, reading the game well and recycling the ball effortlessly. His was a mature display for a young man.
It was great to see Ben Folami in the starting XI. The 20-year-old Australian striker made four Championship appearances for the Blues at the back end of the 2017/18 season, mainly under the caretaker management of Bryan Klug, but then suffered a horrible Achilles injury that required surgery at the start of this year.
With Jordan Roberts (toe) injured and Will Keane not yet deemed fit enough to play two games in four days, Folami was asked to play in the difficult role of lone striker. He worked hard off the ball and had some skilful moments on it. In the first half he set up Gwion Edwards with a dangerous cross and had a close-range shot blocked by the lunging Luke Prosser, while after the break he pulled a shot just wide after a couple of stepovers in the box.
Town had to seek special dispensation from Australia U23s to delay Folami's departure for international duty in order for him to play in this game. He flies to China today to link up with his fellow countrymen to play in a couple of friendlies before returning to England next week.
Australia play at the Asian Under-23 championships in January, which also double as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In the dying moments of this game, Lambert introduced two 16-year-old midfielders off the bench.
First, in the 87th minute, on came Liam Gibbs. When announced on the list of first year scholars back in the summer, the teenager was described by the club as: 'A creative player with good ball control. Able to play a number of positions depending upon formation. Eye for a pass and can open up defences with his quality. Good leadership and communication skills'.
Then, in stoppage-time, Tawanda Chirewa was brought on. At the age of 16 years and 31 days, he became the club's second youngest ever player after Connor Wickham (16 years and 11 days back in April 2009).
Essex-based and of Zimbabwean descent, the youngster had to get permission from his school to play.
Altogether there were nine homegrown players in Town's 18-man squad and that number would probably have been higher had Dobra not been away with Albania, Tyreece Simpson (hip) not been injured and both Bailey Clements and Corrie Ndaba not been on loan at Hemel Hempstead.
Emyr Huws completed a match for the second time in four days. That's the first time he's done that since returning from his two-year injury hell.
It's fair to say the Welshman is still far from being fully fit and firing. At times he cut a frustrated figure, either remonstrating with the referee or gesturing to his team-mates to make runs quicker.
There were reminders of his silky smooth touch and turn ability tough. That box-to-box energy and goal threat will hopefully return with more games.
TOTO'S A TICKING TIMEBOMB
Toto Nsiala is beginning to get a reputation for giving away costly free-kicks and penalties.
After conceding spot-kicks against Accrington and Lincoln, he was almost at it again when bumping into the back of Courtney Senior in the box. The referee was unmoved on this occasion, but it was an incident which left boss Lambert shaking his head on the touchline.
Earlier in the game, Nsiala had squared up angrily to Luke Norris after being fouled. Later he was fortunate not to be booked himself following an unnecessary lunge of his own on halfway.
PLEASE, NOT EXETER
Town only needed a draw to guarantee themselves a home match in the first knockout round of this competition.
Now they face a trip to one of the following seven sides who finished top of the southern section groups: Portsmouth, Brighton U21s, Exeter, Chelsea U21s, MK Dons, Walsall or Peterborough.
Premier League academy teams can play at home from this point on, so the Blues could go to Stamford Bridge or the Amex. Let's be honest, we could do without a 500+ mile round trip to Exeter on a midweek night in early December.
The draw takes place at 2pm on Saturday.
You cant really moan about Lambert's team selection for this one. Tomas Holy, Janoi Donacien, James Wilson, Nsiala, Myles Kenlock, Edwards and Huws are all senior players, while Anthony Georgiou is on loan from Tottenham. Those eight, plus a smattering of homegrown talent was a good experimental mix for a game like this.
To be fair, Town would have been good value for at least a draw after a decent enough display against a strong Colchester side that contained senior players such as Luke Prosser, Luke Norris and Frank Nouble.