Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 5-0 win at Bolton
PUBLISHED: 18:47 24 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:42 25 August 2019
Ipswich Town won 5-0 at Bolton Wanderers this afternoon to go top of the League One table. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
MEN AGAINST BOYS
Paul Lambert, as managers understandably do, tried to play down expectations of an easy victory in the build-up.
Counter claims that 'my own team is riddled with kids too' - when asked about Bolton's sorry situation - seemed a little bit silly though, especially when he'd have known at that point which team he was about to field.
Young trio Idris El Mizouni, Luke Woolfenden and Andre Dozzell were among the five to drop out the team that started Tuesday night's 2-1 home win against AFC Wimbledon. In came Luke Chambers, Gwion Edwards, Alan Judge, Kayden Jackson and new boy Kane Vincent-Young.
The average age of Town's starting XI was 27 compared to Bolton's 21. The more relevant stat is that there were just 686 combined league appearances among the home side. Chambers alone has racked up close to that in his career.
This was a complete mis-match. Bolton had shipped five goals against both Rochdale and Tranmere in their preceding games. Town went into this game as short as 1/14 favourites for a reason.
It was a sad sight to see just 5,454 fans - 760 of whom were in the away end - in attendance this match. That was Bolton's lowest crowd for a league game since 1992. You can understand why the Trotters faithful are fed up with it all. Talk of a takeover has been going on for months.
Town developed a fierce rivalry with the Lancashire club back in the late 1990s as the duo duked it out at the top end of the Championship and then in the Premier League. Now they are third-tier rivals.
Yes, we all have sympathy for Bolton's plight, but there had to be no room for sentiment today.
Ipswich have had, although not on the same scale, their own woes. They are still rebuilding confidence and belief. A week which has included two crucial 94th minute goals and a 5-0 thumping will do wonders for that.
Bolton's young guns provided plenty of effort in front of a small but supportive home crowd. Town didn't really get out of first gear and led 1-0 at the break courtesy of James Norwood's penalty.
After the restart, following some strong encouragement from boss Paul Lambert, they stepped it up. Bolton's players tired, both physically and mentally. The goals started to flow.
POWDERPUFF TO POWERFUL
James Norwood did not hesitate to grab the ball when the referee pointed to the spot in the 19th minute following Harry Brockbank's handball in the box.
Having seen a powderpuff penalty saved at Peterborough last weekend, he waved away Alan Judge's offer to take this one and leathered it emphatically straight down the middle. Boom.
Fast-forward to the 78th minute and the front man left the field with a wry smile. He knows he could and probably should have had a hat-trick. Maybe more.
As it was, he had to make do with two as well as having a hand in the other three.
On three occasions, ex-Norwich man Remi Matthews - a player Lambert seriously considered when revamping his goalkeeper department this summer - raced off his line and denied Norwood one-on-one. Good goalkeeping, yes, though a prolific goalscorer like Norwood will be frustrated not to have taken at least one of them. He also fired a decent chance over the bar when spinning in the box.
Mind you, the final one-on-one save led to Gwion Edwards firing home the loose ball for 2-0. Norwood then won aerial battles ahead of both of Kayden Jackson's poacher's finishes.
That's four goals in three games for the man that finished as the Football League's 32-goal topscorer last season. He'll be hungry for more.
DANGEROUS ON DEBUT
Ipswich Town have had something of a right-back issue for a number of years.
Various loan players have come and gone, Luke Chambers filled in there for far too long, while others have not made the grade. You're probably going back to David Wright for the last time a club owned player convinced there consistently.
Hopefully, Town have finally found the answer in Kane Vincent-Young.
The 23-year-old, recently signed for £500k from Colchester United, showed what he's all about - especially in the first half. He constantly got forwards, left his marker bamboozled with stepovers and produced several dangerous low deliveries.
Any excitement has to be tempered by the fact he was up against a very green 17-year-old left-back in Joe White. However, the former Tottenham youth team looks just what Town needed.
JUDGE STILL FINDING HIS FEET
Alan Judge cuts a frustrated figure at present. Lambert said the Irishman's 'head was all over the place' after Town turned down bids from QPR for him this summer. And he's been well below-par since returning from the broken wrist injury which sidelined him for virtually all of pre-season.
He's now gone 33 games without scoring. The 30-year-old looked desperate to get one here today but was often guilty of trying too hard to force the issue.
He was keen to take the penalty, but Norwood was having none of it. He whipped a free-kick over the bar. He dragged another effort well wide. He snatched at a second half chance when the gap wasn't ever there.
Once again, he was asked to operate on the left side of a 4-4-2 system. He played the role, far from his favourite, with more discipline than before. But there were still times when he went wandering.
Just look at his assist for Norwood's second though - a brilliant bending ball from deep which allowed the front man to take a touch and calmly find the bottom corner.
Form is temporary, class is permanent.