The Verdict: Town turn on the style to dispatch Burton Albion
We take a look at the talking points from Saturday’s 4-1 win over Burton Albion.
That’s more like it!
After four games without victory, Town needed that. So much has been said over the past few weeks about Town’s fall from grace, going from top spot to seventh in a many of weeks. Paul Lambert’s men stopped the losing run on Tuesday night, but in truth the goalless draw at Kingsmeadow felt just as painful as the three defeats which preceding the clash with AFC Wimbledon, with our promotion hopes disappearing by the game.
Those doubts and frustrations would have been tested yesterday too. Will Keane spurned a glorious opportunity to put Town ahead, left with an easy finish only to get the ball stuck underneath his feet and Burton go straight up the other end to take the lead. The Blues needed to show character and quality to overturn the early deficit, luckily we had both.
Creativity in abundance
On the back of a toothless display in midweek and chances missed last weekend at the Stadium of Light, Town needed to find a spark in front of goal.
Lambert opted for the ball playing defender in Josh Earl over the no-nonsense James Wilson, the back three looked comfortable on the ball and balanced. Luke Garbutt and Gwion Edwards were back on the flanks, both key men in how Town operate in the 3-5-2 system. Arguably the most important selection was Alan Judge, the magician, was back in the side, trying to link up the midfield and attack, something which we were crying out for on Tuesday night.
Despite Burton taking the lead, Town were still carving out clear goalscoring opportunities during the early exchanges. Judge and Jackson were both guilty of missing clear chances while still at 1-0, there was no need to panic though, the pair ween’t to be delayed for much longer.
In total, a previous looking shot shy Blues recorded 16 attempts on the Brewers goal, eight on which were on target, four of which counted, just what the doctor ordered!
No place like home…
As well as our recent failings, a lot has also been made of our home form and the need to change that sooner rather than later. Before Saturday’s clash, Portman Road had been far from the fortress we all wanted it to be, collecting 20 points from a possible 39. With nine of the remaining 13 games being at home, Town needed to find home comforts, and quick!
Luckily, Burton proved to be near enough the perfect opposition to play. A team who weren’t coming to park the bus, a team who lacked a real attacking threat, a team who played a high(ish) line and ultimately a team who were there for the taking. If we see eight more performances like that on home soil, the play-offs will be the minimum Town get his season.
The only little moan I had when leaving Portman Road into the eye of storm ‘Dennis’ was Lambert’s choice to not involve James Norwood. In the week much has been made of the out of form striker, who’s confidence appears to be at an all-time low, surely 20 minutes against Burton could have been the perfect remedy.
Instead, Lambert opted to swap Will Keane for Teddy Bishop, while it was great to see Bishop get more minutes under his belt, I think Lambert missed a trick there.
So, what did it all mean to the league table? In truth, not a lot. Town remained in seventh position, one point outside the play-offs, thanks to wins for both Sunderland and Portsmouth. The gap to leaders Rotherham has been cut to five points after they were held at home to AFC Wimbledon.
A team who looks like they have the bit between their teeth is Fleetwood. Joey Barton’s men overcame Peterborough yesterday and now sit a point and place behind Town and have two games in hand on the Blues. The table looks like it could be 6 from 8 who make up the all important places come May. Most importantly, despite other results and teams winning, Town’s future lays in their own hands. More performances and results like Saturday’s and we will be right in the mix come May.