Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw at MK Dons
PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 October 2020
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Ipswich Town’s 100% start to the League One season ended yesterday with a 1-1 draw at MK Dons. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts on the action.
EVERY POINT’S A PRISONER
A below-par display, two key injuries and the best part of half an hour played with 10 men – yet Ipswich Town still escaped with a point.
Being able to play poorly and still get something from a game is often said to be the trait of a successful side.
Let’s hope that, further down the line, that’s exactly how we all look back on this testing afternoon at Stadium MK as supposed to reflecting on it being the first sign of some early cracks showing.
Even before sub Flynn Downes limped off in the 68th minute to leave Town a man down, the Blues had been second best.
They were fortunate to lead at the break through Jon Nolan’s scrambled seventh minute finish, while Daniel Harvie’s 54th minute equaliser had looked on the cards from within seconds of the second half restart. A backs-to-the-wall finish followed.
OUTPLAYED AT OWN GAME
There was, quite rightly, a lot of buzz surrounding Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop following wins against Wigan, Bristol Rovers and Rochdale, but here that midfield trio looked a little lightweight and lacking in off the ball intensity.
The deep-lying David Kasumu was afforded too much time and space to receive the ball short from the Dons defence, while Scott Fraser and Lasse Sorensen passed and moved well further ahead.
That’s why Downes was introduced in the 55th minute, to add some midfield bite. Within nine minutes he crashed into a tackle but came off worse and had to go off. It has to be said that he wasn’t helped by Alan Judge’s poor pass.
This was a clash of two teams with very similar football philosophies and MK Dons, who finished the game with 66% possession, did it better. That has to be something of a concern considering Russell Martin’s men finished 18th last season and came into this game in the relegation zone.
COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT...
All that said, the whole dynamic of this game could have been very different had two big moments gone differently in the first half.
Freddie Sears had a good chance to make it 2-0 in the 18th minute following James Wilson’s super surging run through the middle of the pitch. Had he bent the ball inside the post, rather than just wide, then home spirits may well have been crushed.
And there’s a strong argument that Harvie, the man who went on to score the second half equaliser, should have been sent off for an off the ball kick at Chambers in the 36th minute. Play went on for an age before the referee eventually called the action to a halt and, after chatting to his well-positioned fourth official, awarded a free-kick and just a yellow card.
Mind you, things might also have been different had Lambert not used all his subs up by the 55th minute. He’d been forced to take off Ward in the first half, and it was clear Downes needed to come on early in the second period, but was it necessary to replace Sears with Judge at the same time? That risk backfired. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing though.
There’s no getting away from it, Ipswich looked a much more vulnerable side when the injured Stephen Ward was replaced by Myles Kenlock in the 22nd minute.
His poor back pass allowed Carlton Morris in on goal in the 33rd minute. Thankfully, skipper Luke Chambers got him out of jail with a super saving tackle before letting his frustrations known.
There were then plenty of other nervy moments on the ball from the 23-year-old and it didn’t take the Dons long to target that flank with their attacks.
In the end they got their reward, Kenlock’s failure to make a tackle high up the field allowing Sorensen the chance to cross for Harvie to rifle home.
Tomas Holy had some shaky moments in goal, spilling shots and flapping on occasions, but managed to produce vital stops from Joe Mason and Callum Brittain when it mattered.
In front of him, Toto Nsiala, James Wilson and Chambers were rock solid. Between the three of them they made 15 clearances, 10 interceptions, three big blocks and won six aerial duels.
A word on Oli Hawkins too. Despite being left increasingly isolated up top when Town went down to 10 men, he battled away, produced some nice touches and helped take the heat off.
Gwion Edwards’ ability to carry the ball up field also helped in that respect. He might even have snatched Town an undeserved win late on when driving up the left, but instead tried to pick out Judge when the shot was on.
So it wasn’t all bad. Another midfield goal, a strong defensive display and plenty of character shown in the face of adversity.
Ultimately it’s a point in the pocket and the unbeaten record still intact. Onto the next one.