The Verdict: Town now become ‘the hunter’ instead of ‘the hunted’ after Sunderland defeat

We look back at the talking points from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light, a result which sees Paul Lambert’s men fall out of the top six.

Another game of two halves

Not for the first time this season, and not for the first time against Sunderland, this was another game of two contrasting halves by Town.

In the opening half Town dominated. Chances were being created and missed on a regular basis against a very poor looking Sunderland. Returning goalkeeper Tomas Holy was nothing more than a spectator, while defenders Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden were doing more attacking than defending during the early exchanges.

Town were dominating possession and carving out chance after chance. First Myles Kenlock took too long to get his shot away after being slid in by Will Keane. Keane himself then headed over from a Woolfenden cross before getting crowded out in the box moments later. Norwood latched onto Kenlock’s lobbed pass but saw his trademark chipped effort on-rushing keeper. Nolan was also guilty of snatching at opportunities just outside the box after more good approach play.

Even after the break Town still had a big chance to take the lead, but as in line with the opening half we failed to make it pay. James Norwood squandered the opportunity from eight yards out after Sunderland were penalised for a back pass.

Five changes

There was some good news yesterday, Paul Lambert finally opted to pick Tomas Holy as his number one. The big Czech replaced the on-loan Will Norris after his error against Posh last week.

Myles Kenlock replaced the injured Luke Garbutt and while he was heavily involved in the first half, you can’t help but think if the chance he had fell to the left foot of Garbutt it would have been a different outcome. Janoi Donacien replaced the suspended Gwion Edwards and played well for me, decent on the ball, chucked his body on the line in the second half too. Let’s hope it was just cramp which led to his withdrawal.

Jon Nolan replaced Alan Judge and played a little deeper than where The Irishman usually operates. Neat and tidy on the ball and was in the thick of the action in the first half, played okay but wouldn’t be surprised to see Huws or Judge replace him on Tuesday.

James Norwood was preferred over Kayden Jackson and probably should have took one of his two big chances. Brought in for the big moments, Norwood has flattered to deceive on more than one occasion now.

Clutching at straws

From my angle, Ipswich Town should have certainly had a penalty yesterday afternoon.

Emyr Huws, just introduced into the game, appeared to have been punched by Sunderland keeper Jon McLaughlin. The looping ball was contested between the two players, with Huws clearly winning the header before being poleaxed by the keeper. Certainly another decision to go into the ‘odd’ category this season.

To be honest, the way we look in-front of goal at the moment, we would have probably missed the penalty anyway!

Another winless game against Promotion rivals

At the end of the day it was another defeat against a promotion rival, the third on the bounce. Heading into the game at Rotherham, top of the table, we said that as long as we remain in touch with top spot after the three games of Rotherham, Posh and Sunderland we will be fine, we took zero points. The record now reads at played eleven, won none, drawn six and lost five. Not good enough.

The result has left Town outside the top six for the first time since August, with Sunderland ahead of Town on goal difference sitting in the last play-off spot. The teams around Town all have one thing in common, momentum. Portsmouth have won nine on the bounce, Coventry are consistently turning in results, Sunderland have only lost one in ten games, Peterborough are flying.

All of those teams, and a few beneath Town, all have games in hand too. In short, the table doesn’t make good reading at the minute!