|Ipswich Town 2 v 0 Bolton Wanderers|
Saturday, 16th September 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Town Look to Return to Winning Ways Against Rock-Bottom Bolton
Friday, 15th Sep 2017 17:59
Town go into Saturday’s home game against table-propping Bolton Wanderers looking to end a two-game run of defeats which followed victories in their first four Championship matches.
The Blues dropped from second to fourth following last week’s 2-1 defeat at QPR, then slipped to seventh in midweek when most other Championship sides played but their trip to Derby County was postponed due to the Rams’ involvement in the Carabao Cup.
Manager Mick McCarthy says it’s important to halt the losing run, although doesn’t feel it should be overstated.
“For sure, but I don’t think it’s a wobble by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “We lost to Fulham, who were outstanding, they were just better than us.
“At QPR there was nothing in the game up until that [handball] decision before half-time [which led to the first goal] and I was thinking we’d get better.
“We all know that going in 0-0 at home at half-time, that’s not the best scenario for the home team.
“We’d have all taken 12 points out of the six games. If we look at where we are now we’re kind of in 2015/16 season territory with the points that we’ve got.
“And if we were to win on Saturday we’d be above what we were. And let’s hope we do because I think the fans need to see that now, we need a good performance. So, it would still be a good start. We’ve had two defeats and we want to change that.”
He admits he was surprised that the Blues and Cardiff, who are managed by his old friend and Barnsley team-mate Neil Warnock, were the early pace-setters and says he expects some of the pre-season favourites to start making more of a mark on the division the longer the campaign progresses.
“It surprised me when Cardiff and Ipswich were one and two, that surprised me because while Neil’s team and my team are always going to be competitive, I think there are better squads and better teams in the league than us two,” he said.
“But just having supposedly better players or supposedly better squads doesn’t always make you a better team.
“So, does [the league table] surprise me? No, not after six games. It’ll change around. Fulham will certainly be up there, Villa.
“There are a few teams having a tough time. I guess people thought Sunderland would be up there. I know how tough that is. You go and you’ve been relegated and you’ve got to get them going again, it's not easy at those big clubs that just expect to be up near the top of the league.
“And then there are other teams, they go in and there’s not as much expectation and they can relax a little bit.
“I watched these on Tuesday night at Bolton [when they lost 1-0 to Sheffield United] and I thought they were a bit nervy being at home. They might be delighted to be away from home, so we’re going to have to be on our guard.”
McCarthy believes the squad Trotters manager Phil Parkinson has at his disposal is one which capable of being higher up the division given its Championship experience.
“Maybe the issue is that they’ve had to get them in in dribs and drabs, they weren’t in there at pre-season when Phil could have worked with them all, had his squad settled and worked on how he was going to play,” he reflected.
“He was still getting free transfers in and loans right near the very end of the window. I think there’s been an embargo on them, so that made it difficult for him.
“But if you go through the team I watched the other night, Ben Alnwick in goal has played in the league, Mark Beevers and David Wheater, they’ve got Reece Burke on loan from West Ham.
“Josh Cullen’s on loan from West Ham, but they’ve got Will Buckley and Jem Karacan playing and then Filipe Morais came on.
“They’ve got Mark Little at right-back, who has played in this league at Bristol City and for me at Wolves, Antonee Robinson at left-back, he’s on loan from Everton.
“But then up front they’ve got Gary Madine, who has played in this league for ages and knows it inside out, Adam Le Fondre plus Adam Armstrong, who is on loan from Newcastle. They’ve got Aaron Wilbraham from Bristol City.
“I looked at the signings they’ve made and I thought that they’ve got so many Championship players that have been good Championship players and probably still are.
“I think maybe as the season goes on and they get settled in and Phil gets to work with them, they’re going to get better.
“I can’t look at them and think they’ve got a bad squad of players by any stretch of the imagination. We’ll have to be on our guard.”
He added: “They’ve got a squad full of Championship players that on any given day could be a real handful.
“I think they’ve been pieced together over a long period of time and he’s not been able to work with them.
“But they’re no mugs by any stretch. Despite the results and their position in the league, they’ve got good players there.”
McCarthy has confirmed that his skipper Luke Chambers, who has missed the last three league games with an ankle injury, will return and says the central defender’s presence was a big miss at QPR last week.
“He certainly gives you that leadership and makes demands of people and at the back there wasn’t that senior person that can do that and still play,” he added.
“There are certain players who can cajole and tease performances out of people and demand things of people and curse and swear and make other people play well, and still play well themselves.
“Others, they’re younger, they have to concentrate on their own job. Those personalities are far and few between now and when you’ve got one it’s great to have them.
“I just thought the second goal knocked the steam out of us. It shouldn’t have done. It was appalling defending and not really the defenders, just as a team.
“It came right out of blue and it knocked the stuffing out of us. Bersant Celina’s goal was right out of the blue, I think he'd only had two touches until he got the ball and put it in the net.
“And then all of a sudden we had a rally we could have nicked a point, which would have been undeserved but it would have been welcome.”
In Chambers’s absence Dominic Iorfa made his first appearance at centre-half for the Blues, the on-loan Wolves man, who has primarily operated at right-back both this season and in previous campaigns at Molineux, hoping to eventually to be regarded as a central defender first and foremost.
“It’s nice that he’s got that ability to play both and he’s done well at full-back when he’s played,” McCarthy said.
“I think that his height and his blistering pace, he had one situation where he got back on Saturday and made a tackle in the box, are always going to be assets as a centre-back.
“At some stage in his career, he’ll have to find out which he wants to do and stick to it. And if he gets in a position and he can stay in it, good luck to him.
“At the moment, we’ve had injuries and he’s having to play in different ones, so I’m just pleased we’ve got that versatility and he can do both.”
The return of Chambers means the Blues could move back to the 3-5-2 system which saw them to a 1-0 home victory over Birmingham City on the opening day.
“I thought we played very, very well in the first game, probably as well as we’ve played, as solid and as composed and as organised [as we’ve been]. That was really good, that was a good performance,” McCarthy recalled.
“And then, of course, we went to Luton and did the same, that was a good performance, albeit against a team from a lower league.
“And then Barnsley caught us out with 4-3-3, we looked wide open. We looked like we were going to get beaten there until I went to 4-4-2 and that worked.
“I just think with the league and the way teams play, we’ve got to have the versatility as a team, not just a couple of players happen to be versatile.”
He admits that performances more recently may have fallen short of that Birmingham display.
“It might have dropped a little bit because I’ve had 15 fit players and they're all having to work their socks off. It’s been put on them, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Maybe that’s had an effect on it, I don’t know. And also, I think I’ve had square pegs in round holes in places when the team’s done well. We’ve won games with it, but you’re not going to win games all through the season by having all four centre forwards on the pitch when there’s no balance to it.
“And if anybody’s screaming, ‘You’ve got to have all your best players on the pitch’, well actually the best players are the ones that play best in that position that they play in.
“I’d like to have a few back but they’ve been brilliant, but maybe the intensity was taken out of them by the games they’ve had to play.”
Tom Adeyemi could be in line for a first start for the Blues after recovering from his early-season illness and injury setbacks and having impressed his manager at Loftus Road.
“I thought he livened us up, he had one great tackle right in front of us. It takes that sometimes,” he said.
“I always go back to us playing Crystal Palace here and Richard Stearman tackling Jonny Parr. Sadly Jonny was injured but it was just a great tackle.
“And I remember a tackle against Derby when we were getting beaten 1-0 right in front of the dugout, and I think it was Cressy went and nailed somebody. I defended him, I said it was a good tackle, but…
“It lifted the crowd, it lifted everybody and I think Tom did that when he came on. And maybe that's why we got something, some bit of credit from the game with the goal that we got.
“But he’s been fine, he’s trained well, he played his game [for the U23s] on Monday, so he’s all right.”
The Town boss says he’d like a situation to develop where he can switch two of his four strikers - Joe Garner, David McGoldrick, Martyn Waghorn and Freddie Sears - for another pairing if the Blues have two games in a week.
“If we had to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday and I had to play two on Saturday and two on Tuesday, it would be great.
“There will be times when it might not call for two up front, you’re playing against some of the teams who have different ways of playing. But I would like to have that.”
The Town frontmen have been exceptionally clinical this season so far, the Blues having scored 10 of their 15 shots on target, but McCarthy admits that this remarkable strike rate will drop off as the season progresses.
“If we’ve only had 15 and we’ve scored 10, I wonder what we’d have got if we’d have got 30. We might still have had only 10 goals, who knows,” he reflected.
“I would like to think that if the stats on how many shots we’ve had were up we’d have more goals, of course.”
“But you’re not going to score two-thirds of your chances, nobody. Not us or anybody else for that matter.”
The Blues manager says he has been pleased with the impression made by players coming off the bench during the season up to now.
“Subs have had a great impact, haven’t they?” he added. “If you look at Barnsley when they [Waghorn and McGoldrick] came on and had a good impact there.
“And I think when anybody’s had to come on, whether it’s to keep a game, to make sure we don’t lose a game or give anybody any chances [or to win one].
“I think the subs have been good. There’s been a small squad of players, there’s been nobody sat up in the stand as yet that ought to be sat on the bench or playing, which does help in a strange way. It keeps everybody onside.
“It's lovely [to have options on the bench]. Malcolm Webster just said, ‘At least you’ll be able to look at [making changes if you need to’].
“But I think I’ve had that, to be fair. Even in the games we’ve had, we’ve had maybe 15 of the first-teamers, there’s always been something I could do from behind, whereas I have looked in the past and you know full well, changing it was going to be fruitless, we’d got the best players on the pitch.”
Bartosz Bialkowski will start in goal with McCarthy having decisions to make in his backline.
He could opt to stick with a four-man backline, which would probably see Chambers start at the centre alongside either Iorfa or Jordan Spence, with the latter probably getting the nod to allow the former to move to right-back in place of Callum Connolly, who made his debut at QPR, with Jonas Knudsen at left-back.
In midfield, Cole Skuse will probably be joined in the centre by Adeyemi with Grant Ward likely to be in the right.
Celina might well have come in for his first Championship start but missed training until Thursday with a dead leg, so again will probably be a sub with McCarthy perhaps bringing Sears back on the left with Waghorn dropping to the bench. McGoldrick will again partner Garner up front.
Alternatively, McCarthy may return to three at the back with two of Spence, Knudsen or Iorfa joining Chambers and Myles Kenlock and Iorfa or Connolly the wing-backs. Ward, Skuse and Adeyemi would probably be in midfield.
Bolton have significant injury problems with defender Derik Osede (groin) and winger Buckley (hamstring) joining those already unavailable, who include winger Sammy Ameobi (knee), midfielder Josh Vela (ankle) and right-back Stephen Darby (hamstring).
Another winger Morais (knee) and left-back Andrew Taylor (calf) are doubts, while young midfielders Jack Earing, Jeff King and Alex Perry could be registered for the first-team squad ahead of the game after the EFL lifted the transfer embargo which was imposed on Christmas Eve 2015 that limited their squad to 24 players yesterday.
Ex-Arsenal striker Julio Baptista and former Trotters defender Joey O’Brien have recently been on trial at the Macron Stadium.
If Wanderers lose on Saturday they will have failed to win any of their first eight league games at the beginning of a season for only the third time in their history. They are currently rock bottom with only two points.
Manager Phil Parkinson, who led the Trotters to promotion as League One runners-up last season, admits the slow start is a worry.
“It is a concern, without a shadow of a doubt,” the one-time Colchester boss told The Bolton News.
“We have conceded a lot of soft goals, I think the intensity of our performances have not always been as high as it should have been. And that’s why we find ourselves in the position we’re in.
“I am not going to keep going over the same issues, they are what they are. Teams around us have spent money but it doesn’t alter the fact we should be doing better than we are right now.
“Elements have been against us but I felt the other night against Sheffield United that there was a change in our attitude and if we can take that on now into the Ipswich game, and even step it up a level, then that win isn’t far away.
“A lot of the lads are getting belief they can play at this level and they just have to keep going.”
Historically, the Blues just have the edge, having won 18 times (16 in the league), Bolton 13 (nine) and with 10 (nine) games between the teams ending in draws.
Town are unbeaten in eight against Bolton, winning five and drawing three. Their last defeat was a 3-1 reverse in the FA Cup at Portman Road in January 2005.
Their last league win against the Blues was the 4-1 win towards the end of 2001/02, which all but confirmed Town’s relegation from the Premier League. Earlier that season, they recorded their last league victory in Suffolk when they won 2-1.
The teams last met at the Macron Stadium in March 2016 with Wanderers already all but consigned to relegation to League One.
Stephen Dobbie’s penalty seven minutes into injury time denied the Blues a third successive win as Bolton came from two goals down to draw 2-2.
Kevin Bru put Town in front on 24, Christophe Berra added a second on 73 but one-time Town trialist Lawrie Wilson hit back within a minute, before Dobbie’s late penalty, awarded after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had fouled his fellow Arsenal loanee Wellington Silva.
In the previous November at Portman Road, Maitland-Niles and Brett Pitman had been on target as the Blues beat Bolton 2-0 to end their seven-game autumn winless run.
Maitland-Niles put Town ahead in the 13th minute with his first senior goal, then Pitman smashed home a brilliant second on 70 to seal the three points.
Saturday’s referee is Andrew Madley from West Yorkshire, who has shown 17 yellow cards and no red in seven matches so far this season.
Madley’s last Town game was the 1-1 home draw with Birmingham in April in which he booked only one of the visitors.
Before that he refereed the 3-0 home defeat to Derby in January in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Madley also took control of the 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in November last year when he booked Skuse and Ward and one home player.
Before that he was in charge of the 1-0 defeat at Cardiff in March last year in which he again issued no cards.
He also officiated in the 2-1 home victory over Wolves in November 2014 in which he booked Chambers, Luke Hyam and Bru as well as two visiting players.
In 2013/14 he officiated in the 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest and the 2-0 victory over Reading at Portman Road.
The season prior to that he refereed his first Blues game, the 2-1 home defeat to Derby County, which turned out to be Paul Jewell’s last match as manager of Town.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Spence, Iorfa, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Chambers, Woolfenden, Skuse, Downes, Adeyemi, Ward, Celina, Rowe, Garner, Sears, McGoldrick, Waghorn, Morris, Folami.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 244 bloggers
This Might Rub You Up the Wrong Way, it Might Not! by delias_cheesy_flaps
“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up the stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him, and without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
Identity Crisis by andygri
As someone born in the mid 1970s, I am part of the generation that has seen Ipswich Town Football Club move in and out of the footballing limelight over the last 40 years.
Pre-Derby Hope and Hype by TimS
I hate the phrase 'Old Farm derby'. There are plenty of patronising phrases that have, and are still thrown at me when I talk about our club, but the 'Old Farm derby' degenerates our derby into nothing more than a Country Show debate over who has the biggest tractor. Quaint, sweet but slightly pathetic, not understood by anyone outside East Anglia.
Is the Season Done And Dusted For Ipswich Town? by Pessimistic
That game away at Bolton summed up in my view all that is wrong with Ipswich Town Football Club.
Stuck in a Moment, and Now We Can't Get Out of It! by oldbarrackdan
Yesterday's result at the Macron against Bolton and the subsequent press conference with Mick McCarthy reminds me of the U2 song- Stuck in a Moment. Marcus Evans:
Ipswich Town Polls
[ Vote here ]