Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 2-0 home defeat to Rotherham United
PUBLISHED: 10:43 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:43 24 October 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town suffered their second defeat in four days, losing 2-0 at home to Rotherham United last night. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
It's been a worrying four days indeed.
Ipswich Town scored 21 goals and conceded just five in their unbeaten 11 game start to life in League One.
They've now been replaced at the top of the table by free-scoring Peterborough after a pair of 2-0 defeats.
This home loss to Rotherham was every bit as frustrating and concerning as the one up at Accrington Stanley.
Once again, a big striker scored twice. Matt Crooks' rifled home the 13th minute opener and then coolly finished the killer second within three minutes of the restart.
Town were out-thought and out-fought. They never looked like scoring. They could have comfortably conceded at least two or three more.
All of a sudden, a few of the doubts that we'd pushed to the backs our minds have started to grow.
Were Town only winning games through individual moments of brilliance rather than cohesive team play? Is the squad strong in numbers rather than quality?
As Paul Lambert's one-year anniversary in charge fast approaches, those thoughts were almost tangibly in the rain-soaked Suffolk air.
Groans greeted backwards passes, sighs met hopeful long balls that drifted out of play and there were a smattering of boos at both the half-time and full-time whistle.
Instead of hand-holding team celebrations, we saw a group of players sheepishly applauding a ground that had neared emptied by the end.
Saturday's game at struggling Southend, who were thumped 7-1 by Doncaster on Tuesday night in front of watching new boss Sol Campbell, suddenly feels pretty big.
Tinkerman boss Lambert made five changes to his team. The line-up was again advertised as a 3-5-2, but on this occasion was very much a flat back four with Cole Skuse at the base of a narrow midfield diamond.
After burning brightly inside the opening five minutes, Emyr Huws' seeing a shot beaten away, the Blues quickly fizzled out.
They had the same problems they had up in Lancashire - getting over-run down the flanks.
Full-backs Kane Vincent-Young and Luke Garbutt were both forced to stay at home as Rotherham made use of their two v one numbers down the sides.
In the congested middle of the park, there were several occasions where Town players simply got in each others' way.
There were too many semi-fit players. There constant rotation is not helping with chemistry.
Talking only tactics would overlook the fact that far too many players were simply not at it.
The visitors crunched into tackles. Up top, Michael Smith and Crooks - both 6ft 4in tall - proved a real handful.
The Millers' 13th minute opener was an example of that. Luke Chambers couldn't cleanly win the first header, then Cole Skuse was eased off the ball by Crooks.
Ben Wiles' initial shot was blocked, but Crooks was there to lash a low shot under the unsighted Tomas Holy from just inside the box.
Minutes later, Matthew Olusunde side-footed narrowly over after drifting onto a deep cross from the left.
The half ended when Clarke headed over at the back post from a similar deep delivery.
The only relief was that, unlike at Accrington, Town had reached the break only one behind.
Lambert didn't make any changes to his personnel, but did switch to a 4-3-3 system - Danny Rowe and Kayden Jackson operating either side of Will Keane up top.
Unfortunately, within three minutes of the restart, the Blues conceded again.
Skuse's attempted clearance was charged down and Wiles slipped the ball to Crooks for a calm finish inside the area.
Tomas Holy's flying save from Smith's powerful header in the 55th minute meant the Blues still had a half chance of a comeback.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
Just before the hour, Anthony Georgiou replaced Huws and Lambert switched to a traditional 4-4-2.
The flying Tottenham loanee immediately gave the crowd something to get behind with some direct running and trickery down the left.
Then, in the 68th minute, James Norwood - who underwent minor groin surgery at the start of last week - and Gwion Edwards came on for Keane and Rowe respectively.
The full-backs were finally able to get forwards. For a split second it looked like Garbutt had rounded the keeper following a driving run, but Daniel Iversen stuck out an arm at the vital moment.
Still though Town could find no rhythm. It didn't help that the street smart visitors had a two-goal lead to protect. And they continued to threaten on the counter.
Substitute Chiedozie Ogbene stabbed over on the stretch following Smith's searching low cross. Then defender Michael Ihiekwe headed against the upright at a corner.
The damage could, and should, have been worse.