Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 1-0 win at Gillingham
PUBLISHED: 19:18 21 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:18 21 September 2019
Ipswich Town are top of the League One table again following this afternoon's 1-0 win at Gillingham. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
1-0 TO THE IPSWICH
For the second time in five days, Ipswich Town secured a hard-fought 1-0 away win. Three of their six victories have come by that scoreline now. That's a club-record equalling fifth league clean sheet in succession.
Gillingham were direct and physical. The larger than life character of Steve Evans barked and hollered in his technical area. The hosts left the grass long and dry.
Yet Town's back three stood up to the test comfortably. There was the odd slightly nervy moment, but in general the Blues never really looked like conceding.
Tomas Holy didn't have a save of note to make on his return to Priestfield and claimed several aerial balls confidently with those telescopic arms. Luke Chambers was there to make a superb last-ditch tackle on Alex Jakubiak in the second half. James Wilson, just like in midweek, was rock-solid. Luke Woolfenden, as always, was a cool customer.
Town could and perhaps should have killed the match off in the second half as Alan Judge hit the post and Jon Nolan had a shot saved. Instead, they saw the game out comfortably with some controlled spells of possession.
Town's winning goal was a move of real quality in what was an otherwise pretty scrappy first half.
Goodness knows how many passes there were in the lengthy build-up. Eventually, having patiently worked the ball through the thirds, Andre Dozzell cleverly played a reverse pass, Kayden Jackson teased a super cross to the far post and Kane Vincent-Young came steaming in at the back post to head home from close-range.
What a signing he has been. The £500k fee paid to Colchester United is looking cheaper by the game.
His athleticism on the right-side - today he played as a wing-back - has provided Ipswich with an extra string to their attacking bow. The 24-year-old doesn't ignore his defensive duties either. On countless occasions he makes fine recovery runs and pops up at just the right time to snuff out danger.
A man-of-the-match display.
JUDGE CONUNDRUM CONTINUES
Alan Judge has left us all pulling our hair out with the way he has roamed, with such carefree abandon, when crow-barred into the team as a left-winger in recent weeks.
He was left out of the starting line-up in midweek. Today, he was asked to operate as a makeshift 'striker' up top alongside Kayden Jackson.
Partly the reason was needs-must. There was no point risking James Norwood after he came off with a groin injury at Stadium MK. And there was no point risking Will Keane given the length of time he's been out for. And we all know Kayden Jackson is not suited to a lone striker role.
The fear was that Judge would, once again, simply go where he liked and leave Jackson isolated. And so it proved.
The Irishman dropped incredibly deep at times in the first half. There were occasions where he received the ball on the halfway line and had five players ahead of him.
In terms of his play, he was actually much-improved. His touch was mostly on-point (there was a beautiful piece of control out the sky) and he came oh-so-close to scoring when sending a sweetly struck shot against the base of the post in the 63rd minute.
There would have been an assist too, had Jon Nolan been able to beat keeper Jack Bonham following a square pass moments later.
It kind of worked. It mostly didn't.
Ipswich looked a poorer side when Norwood went off at MK Dons. They looked a better side when he came on in the 77th minute today. Without him the Blues struggle to make the ball stick in the final third.
DOZZELL'S BIG CHANCE
Andre Dozzell has been very much on the periphery. The homegrown midfielder got a rare chance today in the No.10 role.
You felt it was an opportunity he really needed to grasp with both hands given the form of Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes and the fact that Nolan and Emyr Huws are both back in the mix.
Did he do that? Not really.
Like always with Andre there are some passes that, both in terms of vision and weight, leave you purring. The goal was a case in point.
There are also occasions where you are willing him to be a bit more involved; to press quicker; to want the ball a bit more. They way Nolan and Huws dictated the play when they came on rather highlighted that.
In his defence, this was only the 19th league start of the 20-year-old career. They have all been very sporadic. It must be hard to hit the ground running when you're always coming in cold.
For perspective, his fellow Blues academy graduates Myles Kenlock (58 league starts), Downes (40) and Woolfenden (40) have much more experience under their belts at similar ages.
It's hard to see where his game time will come from going forwards.
HANDBAGS AND GLAD RAGS
Steve Evans heaped praise on fellow Glaswegian Paul Lambert and his squad in the build-up (though that may have been a bit of mind-games). The game ended with the pair having to be 'held back' from each other.
Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor had been bouncing around their technical area all game, shouting at the officials, players and opposition bench. In fairness to Lambert, he mostly laughed it all off.
At the full-time whistle, Lambert's hand was refused by Evans and Raynor. That's when the Blues boss saw red. Town's fitness coach Jim Henry (a former judo champion) intervened. Evans claimed afterwards he was 'threatened'.
In truth, it was all a bit of handbags.
After all that had died down came Lambert's curtain call. He ushered his players over to the away end (2,179 packed in the scaffold-built, one-tier stand) and got them to link hands before raising and dropping their arms in unison to hearty cheers. You know the thing. They do it at the end of theatre shows as the roses are flung on stage. In football, it's mainly done on the continent.
That's Lambert's German influence. He played for Borussia Dortmund, he took his Town team there in pre-season and makes regular trips over to study the culture.
A little OTT given we're only in September? I love it. Lambert's reconnected with a fan base who were increasingly falling out of love with the match day experience.