|Sunderland 1 v 0 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 8th February 2020 Kick-off 15:00
|ChateauWines added 17:13 - Feb 8|
Sindre94 added 17:39 - Feb 8
htb added 17:56 - Feb 8
prebbs007 added 18:00 - Feb 8
prebbs007 added 19:20 - Feb 8
Sindre94 added 21:31 - Feb 8
Mullet added 09:18 - Feb 9
Ipswich’s unfathomable dalliance with the top of the table was as distant as their fans, looking down upon a near perfect pitch only obscured by pigeons. Below them silent witnesses watched a much-changed side challenge theirs. Holy was back by popular demand, ahead of him a flat three unchanged. Donacien and Kenlock as wingbacks and Skuse behind Downes and Nolan, with Norwood and Keane the attack.
It took Sunderland barely ten minutes to put the ball in the net. Wyke stabbing past Holy and despite the home fans’ jubilation it was clear from the nosebleeds, he was all on his own because he was miles offside.
With the notable absence of Norris, Judge and Garbutt there was a new dimension to this side. Flipping the midfield triangle so that Skuse was the single pivot and the red and yellow streaks of his midfield colleagues joining Keane in the space that the Irishman would usually occupy meant a new shape and feel to our attacking play.
It was the wingbacks who could really push forward, and this created the bulk of several good chances. Kenlock was picked out by Keane and with the keeper covering back towards the post, it was hard to know if the left back intended to cross or shoot as the ball ended up behind for a corner.
Now this area of the pitch where Town looked to excel would prove fertile ground. A superbly placed ball in for Norwood via good building and link up play down the left put the strike clean through. What looked a certain lead was yanked away from us by an excellent stop.
Lambert’s side may have been weakened by suspension and injury, but seemed immune to the baying of a set of home fans who sat silently until they felt an official could be corrupted. Their players in the main, looked flexible in all of the thirds mainly due to Town’s success in stretching them.
A rare sight flashed past the post or onto the barricade of McLoughlin’s reactions. The return of Nolan shooting from distance and from instinct was a welcome addition to Ipswich’s new look attack. The void between the Black Cat’s rear relaxed just enough to slip him and his mates in time and again.
Keane was enjoying having runners and when he did make space to shoot, the block was nodded over by a calvary charge from someone following in. He looked better finding those on the shoulder than being that guy. Norwood took a sumptuous lay off and curved a fierce effort the wrong side of the post. It was looking like not even Kes could swoop or strike with such speed in the maelstrom of wind and intent bearing down towards a vocal away end.
Sunderland were clearly not as well versed in the lore of Jeremy Simpson, but when Wilson was felled in needless and dangerous fashion on the line it was clear a yellow was inevitable, despite their yowls. Downes would later yap his way into a two-game break after a clean challenge from Skuse produced some amateur gymnastics. The decision was wrong, but definitely not a hill to die on for the ill-disciplined Flynn.
Ipswich had recently employed overlapping centre backs much to the glee of amateur tacticians across the third tier. There little more than sheer guts to Chambers’ run past Donaicen to make a tackle on the home team’s goal line to try and keep possession. However, it signified that somehow, he and his mates wanted it today even if they couldn’t always find the punchline or timing to laugh away the doubt hanging over them.
Sunderland rarely threatened and when they did, it seems their own haste led to waste as shots went well wide or were snuffed out like a candle in, well, the wind. Holy making acquaintance with the halfway line during one moment of madness was a sight that will live long in the memory, perhaps trying to show he can do all that is rival for the shirt has promised to do so often.
The first half saw Ipswich walk off looking good but having little to show for it. Our season in miniature as big players tried to put their mark on the game, but merely put to bed the aberration of the last couple of matches instead.
Under Lambert Ipswich had felt the weight of history like a millstone around their necks. As we eulogised Sir Bobby and lingered on the rose-tinted blinders of the Allezs, it became clear that the good half, was about to be proceeded by the bad one.
Sunderland did as we had and tore into the bottom left hand corner. Pushing the ball about and forcing Donacien into the first of a few last gasp crashing blocks at the back post, via deflected crosses and patient passes.
Much has been made of the rotation this season, but neither full back would finish the game fresh or fit. Kenlock in fact was beaten and so were the three players rushing to his aid all too easily. A crashing shot off the post left the goal wide open, before a striker let the rebound bounce kindly to the arms of our Czech. It was a warning far more serious than the belated drop-balls and lectures of the referee that jarred amidst some of this season’s freer play.
Chambers was next to be beaten. Momentarily by the bounce and recovered to win the ball. Egged on by the home crowd who must have had their one eye closed, he was cautioned for doing his job, as Simpson must have agreed he got a bit of the man. Apart from his soul and dignity, it was unfathomable which bit though.
Holy was getting more than a good feel of the ball, tipping like an American on holiday as Sunderland utilised the conditions and belief it brought up in them. Denying the hosts several chances to turn in a cross or teasing ball, as they found space by pulling defenders with them or beating them on the channels.
However, when Town did remember that the reason they had been so shot-shy and tumbling down the league of late was a lack of service, Sunderland nearly handed us the game on a plate. A routine move forward saw the defender lay it off to the keeper, who like us had an excellent first half and terrible second. Picking the ball up to the collective amazement of the whole stadium.
By the time everyone had remembered what happens in moments like these, and Town took their indirect free kick, they like the set piece, were just a tad off centre as the final touch cannoned of a Blue shin and out for a goal kick. It was our first opportunity and Town merely took another knock.
The imperious nature of the first half had taken its toll on the visitors and Norwood and Nolan were put back on the bench, their natural habitat of late. It shouldn’t have changed the nature of Town’s brighter aspects, but Huws and Jackson didn’t have the impact intended.
In fact, the already booked McLoughlin won a free kick minutes after flattening Huws and completely missing the ball. The penalty for such an indiscretion? A free kick taken miles away after Town were shaping up to shoot. It was as baffling as our decline after the break.
With the added pressure of recent events coming into the game, combining with that of Sunderland’s ability to press forward a goal was somehow inevitable despite the best efforts of the woodwork and a ramrod straight Holy, who seemed to make a save with his ribcage at one point.
When Sunderland did break the deadlock it was just as we had promised to. A sloppy error from Chambers as he took his eye off the ball and evaded his studs. A throw and quick move of chicanery ended with a first time hit that flew the right side of the post and nestled in the net. Having sacrificed width for directness, they squeezed us out of the game all too predictably.
Ipswich were forced to remove Donacien who had stopped to stretch his calf more than once between tackles and set pieces being taken. The second centre back to play on the right became Woolfenden as Earl made his bow in surgical mask and pragmatic patching up of an already breached defence.
Wilson was rescued after a clumsy slip as the last man. Cole made himself into a human cue to poke away the ball in a moment defensive billiards that could so easily have been another boll0ck dropped.
The Preston loanee looked the part, but his simply lay offs and takes merely gave rise to a sense of frustration as he could only offload to midfielders level with him and barracked to get it forward. Town did so and sent away Jackson whose runs were previously as misplaced as they were rapid. With only the goalkeeper to stop him his feet slowed, and mind raced, as the ball got away from him in a moment when his leg didn’t trail long enough to catch the covering defender and earn a certain spot kick.
When the full-time whistle came, so did the predictable shrugs, shuffling and boos. A big away end greeting yet another anti-climax with the mixed responses befitting of this season. On paper this was as weak as any side Lambert could put out aside from the EFL trophy, but it had mustered one of the better halves for a while. Tellingly, the only consistent identifying trait was that they followed it with one of utter collapse and listlessness.
In a week where upstairs have brought back a Butcher to the club, this third defeat on the bounce may call for more bloodletting and dismemberment than today warranted. Had Ipswich taken the points they may well feel that promotion is back on the menu. As it is we sit 7th, and there’s cold comfort in that position.
grinch added 11:31 - Feb 9
grinch added 11:34 - Feb 9
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