|Blackburn Rovers 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 19th January 2019 Kick-off 15:00
|ChrisFelix added 17:10 - Jan 19|
Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 18:37 - Jan 19
Mullet added 20:07 - Jan 19
Debutant Judge made a bow and settled a few questions about where he would fit into Lambert’s system. On the right wing mostly, Sears on the left with Keane in the Irishman’s preferred position and Quaner in his up top. Skuse and Chalobah made a defensive pair of midfielders ahead of the same back five. Gerken marshalling Pennington, Chambers, Collins and Elder.
Blackburn had an odd line up and shape that flittered between Bennet as a full back and wing back, and Dack as a deep lying play maker for the odd minute before running beyond Evans to join Graham’s slipstream. Sometimes they had 3 at the back sometimes 4, the same up front and you could not always tell if it was because of Ipswich’s weaknesses.
The game kicked off in fairly unremarkable fashion. It wasn’t until Cole Skuse marked an opening 24 minutes of uncharacteristic casualness on the ball in the 6th minute or so, that it got going. “Man on” would have helped, especially as there were two, but he looked like a man rushed back from injury and unable to rush anyway, as a stray orange calf blocked the ball behind for an early corner.
Moving from fairly solid defence of Reed’s set pieces, Town put every man back and the height of the front two helped to make a shield wall across the six-yard box rarely seen in mini-season under the mini-manager when we last played Blackburn.
Town looked far from confident as Gerken switched from centreback to centreback, and the ball moved across the fissures this system calls for. With Judge and Keane constantly looking for it in far off channels just beyond our own 18-yard box, there was hope, but little evidence either would alleviate Rovers’ dominance between the semi-circles.
Ipswich were facing a keeper and two full backs that didn’t look like they had revised for any test today, but time and again retention was not better than before kick off and we failed to do more than overlap and overhit all too often.
Judge found Sears with an exquisite long ball that was completely passing by both teams until the wideman could bring it inside. But again, support and belief let us down long before our delivery could.
Blackburn looked to have the opposite in terms of presence up front, but on the overlap a man was always spare. Both Pennington and Elder were asked to deal with high balls, through balls and a decision on where to place their studs. When Bennett screamed through at the back post, his shot matched his run and nearly hit us away fans. It was a let off that saw Town shook.
Not long after Dack was lifting the ball after lifting himself off the turf from a soft free kick. The game had played on until the long-haired midfielder had decided he didn’t want to. Sitting down centrally the resulting effort was turned away and just went the right side of the post for a corner. As it came back in, we all watched the ball as it bounced off the foot of the post with Gerken beaten.
In the maelstrom of poor decisions from Lambert’s defence and poor possession from both midfielders, Town saw Dack race down the flank in a rare wide appearance and try and lift the ball over Gerken. Collins cleared away what should have been a stronger effort and sure goal. Soon after Lambert switched the wingers before Armstrong repeated the move and tested Deano’s gloves with a straight stinger, easily palmed out.
The lack of protection for either full back may have seemed unnecessary given Rovers’ dearth out wide, but when they moved en masse from side to side it loosened Town’s resolve.
Ipswich deserved to be behind at half time but could have lead minutes before the break. Quaner who had carved gaps in the defence, often enough for Chalobah to pick the wrong one, then drew Lenihan in from an off-side position.
Leaving the ball, the German got the defender to follow suit and Keane raced through. Raya flapped and blew the oncomer too wide and too far. With not enough time or men to get in the box again the ball cannoned out for a corner.
This was a month of games where Lambert revisits his exes’ and trying to get balls in or even near their box is going to be a huge problem it seems. Our survival might hinge on it, thanks to narrowness and depth of running from Judge and the crowding from either central midfielder it was hard to know if this was 4-2-3-1 or lopsided 4-3-3 at times.
It was crucial with Ipswich still in the game, they took the break to reassess and change. Mogga substituted Reed and swapped Armstrong over to Elder’s side. Town gave a cheap free kick away on the edge of the box when they had 3 to 1 in their favour. This seemed to be telling.
Blackburn’s dominance was a silent acknowledgement over the game, hanging more like bad breath than bad intentions in the queue to full time. Nonetheless, Sears sought the ball cleverly down the left and with Elder overlapping, Quaner was just three yards out but with his back to goal. As it came across the German looped it over with the outside of his boot. Keane waggled the outside of his hand demanding the next one comes to him as he seemed to do on his debut the other week.
The home fans barely made sound all day, there was ripple of frustrated encouragement across the attic seats, thudding dully across the rafters. That would change as Blackburn grew into the game. Judge won cheap fouls in reasonably good positions, but most of Town’s set pieces floated into Raya’s hands or beyond his grasp with little threat.
When the end of the deadlock came it was like all fatal moments, unclear and out of nowhere. I’m sure we’re all overjoyed Armstrong survived what appeared to be a landmine he stepped on, almost gallantly given Elder was chasing in behind him and sure to have triggered it next. As the referee took his time and the linesman wanted nothing to do with it, Chambers earned a booking thanks to the crowd not liking him stepping over the spotted ball. The referee with his back to it all gave him the card, somebody else deserved.
Gerken’s dive was just as good as the spotkick. Alas, he went the wrong way as Graham almost pointed to where he was going to put it, well inside the post and slowly. Town were behind. Always behind.
Lankester made a birthday bow on his 19th. Quaner withdrawn and Keane moving up top.
The sub went on the right and Judge went centrally. Presiding over where the ball should be, as the evidence stacked up against the away side.
It was not to be Lankester who would make an instant impact from the bench, but Blackburn’s Nuttall. This time Armstrong did Elder on the other side, strafing across him and firing a machine gun pass into the middle. All of Town’s defenders were cut asunder as the youth team product blasted home a doubler and killed Town off.
A lack of tactical discipline from us and actual discipline from them was all that perhaps we can cling to in terms of unjust actions being done upon us. Bennett could not catch Sears at one point, so pushed him into the hoarding playground style. No card but a free kick. This was topping what in the first half seemed to be the clearest booking you’ll see all season as Lenihan did the same to Quaner as the German cross the halfway line and the defender cut him off at the knees. When he was finally booked for a nasty tackle in the second half the decision was not lost on many travelling fans.
The pinnacle of what should have been given to us, when we did little to deserve anything was a clear handball to deny a goal bound shot. Bennett who had also lunged in on a countering Sears, stuck his arm out to deflect it out for a corner. The ref beat his chest like an emasculated gorilla. His understanding of biology, up there with that of physics and the laws of the game.
Lambert put Bishop in late on to become the third player in the hole, and the number in over their heads into double figures. Rejigging the lines to make what might not have been a 4-4-1-1 as Dack and his mates cannoned balls over the bar and the game well and truly beyond us.
Once again Town find themselves riding their luck, then setting fire to it in a bin like the division’s paupers we seem so keen to be. Hurst’s player’s all but banished frim sight, it’s easy to see why some are now looking cynically at Lambert and seeing a relationship between points for the PR, but little points at or away from PR. But the picture is bigger and darker than that alone.
We lined up again with changes, new faces and little looking like we could do more than steal a 0-0 until we leant our soft bellies onto the cutting edge of reality at this level. If we go down, we deserve to thanks to displays like today being seen too often.
Elder showed that like most of Lambert’s signings, if it wasn’t for injury or circumstance they’d not be here. Cementing his place as the second best left back at the club for now, he was merely the temple on which today’s knock out blows fell. Had we played out 1st choice, we may have left with stolen parity and a point. Keane is the man with gold in boots, and if we fail to put every attack through him, we are foolish because not only does he want the ball, but the ball wants to be with him if it has any chance of finding the goal.
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