Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday
PUBLISHED: 18:52 02 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:40 03 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town lost 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon to fall further adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Just not good enough
New and innovative ways to write about an Ipswich Town loss: Volume 20.
The opposition were far from exceptional. And yet Ipswich Town still lost the game. We’ve said that quite a few times this season. How fitting that the date – February 2 – was ‘Groundhog Day’.
Sorry, Paul Lambert – but the table doesn’t lie. The Blues look every bit a bottom three team.
Yes, it was galling that Lucas Joao’s 90th minute winner came against the run of play. And yes, Ipswich might have an argument that there was a foul in the build-up.
The fact is, however, that the Blues were nowhere near good enough for the majority of this scrappy, disjointed game.
Freddie Sears pulled a shot across the face of goal midway through the first half. Alan Judge curled one over midway through the second half. Both those chances came at the end of decent moves, but those moments were, sadly, few and far between. Trevoh Chalobah’s header at a corner in the 84th minute was Town’s only shot on target of note.
Wednesday could and probably should have been in front long before Town’s minor late rally. Bartosz Bialkowski produced a fine save with his legs from Steven Fletcher, while Adam Reach missed a sitter. Fernando Forestieri, making his first start since November after injury, spurned several good openings.
Once again, Town were left frustrated at the referee.
Oliver Langford gave several harsh free-kicks against Town as they pressed high late on. He then missed what looked to be a foul by Michael Hector on Will Keane in the build-up to the winner.
Right now, it feels like everything is going against the Blues. The truth is though that, just like at Villa last weekend, they could and probably should have been put to bed before then.
Inexperienced back four
Lambert said in the build-up that he had ‘one or two knocks’. It turns out that experienced central defensive duo James Collins (hamstring) and Luke Chambers (foot) were out injured.
Deadline day signing James Bree came straight into the side, Toto Nsiala made his first start since October, with Matthew Pennington and Myles Kenlock making up an inexperienced back four.
Bree, who could have done with an older header talking him through his debut, started a little nervily but grew into the game and had some nice attacking moments.
Nsiala was everything we have come to love and fear in equal measure. There was some good no-nonsense defending, but also the traditional costly lapse in concentration. He simply stopped after the hour, unaware of Forestieri nipping in on the blindside, and was fortunate the ring-rusty forward fired over.
Kenlock had some neat moments, but was far too flaky for the winner when letting Adam Reach to power around him in the box and assist.
No focal point
The hope was we’d start to see what Collin Quaner is all about following his power-packed display off the bench at Villa Park. The big German didn’t pull up any trees on his return to the starting XI though.
He may be big and strong, but he’s not a target man. His best work comes when running the channels. He needs support in behind and, with Town playing a 4-3-3 system, he didn’t get it.
Working out where some of Lambert’s new recruits are best suited is a bit of a conundrum. So many of them – Quaner, Will Keane, Alan Judge – all want to play through the middle. Judge, who has played on both flanks so far, clearly wants to drift inside.
One positive today was the performance of Teddy Bishop. Five days on from 90 minutes and a hat-trick for the Under-23s, the twinkle-toed midfielder played with positivity. He got stuck in, provided some driving runs and positive passes. A new contract is surely in the offing.
Another was the impact of the substitutes. Town’s late push came after Keane and Chalobah came on. Both provided an injection of life.
Wigan won, while Millwall, Rotherham and Reading all drew.
It means the gap to safety grows to eight points for the rock-bottom Blues heading into Sunday’s East Anglian derby at Norwich City.
Town probably need at least six wins from their remaining 16 games to stand any chance of beating the drop.
With respect to Sheffield Wednesday there are far tougher tests on the horizon.