Welcome to Part Two of Singing The Blues, my FM series with Ipswich Town. In this post I am going to review the first 23 games of our first season together using the Singing The Blues 4-1-3-2 system.
After a good pre-season we opened our League One campaign away at Burton Albion where we came away from the game feeling frustrated after losing 0-1 from our hosts only shot on goal. We created the chances to win this game but could not convert them with both frontmen Will Keane and Kayden Jackson both wasting clear cut chances. With the visit of promotion favourites Sunderland to Portman Road up next the pressure was on the club to get a result in front of the Ipswich faithful.
Our Welsh Wizard the player I dubbed the Welsh Xabi Alonso, Emyr Huws gave us a 20th minute lead with a stunning free kick that got the Tractor Boys faithful out of their seats. We went in to the break with a 1-0 lead so I told the team “Don’t get complacent” and sent them out for the second half which we started well with Teddy Bishop going close grazing the post with a fierce drive.
We did double our lead when Will Keane finished from close range in the 58th minute after a Jon Nolan through ball that split the Black Cats defence. Defender Aristote Nsiala rounded the game off with a close range header giving us a a fantastic 3-0 win and our first three points of the season.
A midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Charlton Athletic with a rotational line up followed the first win of the season.
Two first half goals from Will Keane and captain Luke Chambers was enough to secure a 2-0 win away to Peterborough followed by another 2-0 win at Portman Road against AFC Wimbledon with goals from Kayden Jackson and Janoi Donacien in the first half ensured we had won our 3rd out of 4 games in the League to date.
Crisis club Bolton Wanderers would be our hosts on Matchday 5 and after a hard fought game we had Kayden Jackson to thank for his 80th minute goal that gave us a 1-0 win against a resilient Bolton side.
To end the month we entertained early League leaders Shrewsbury Town at Portman Road who gave us a good run for our money holding us to a 0-0 draw which incidentally is our 5th clean sheet on the bounce in the League.
The Football League Trophy now known by its sponsors name Leasing.Com Trophy was our opening competitive game in September against Oxford United who we beat 3-0 with goals from James Norwood, Myles Kenlock and a Will Keane penalty to get the month off to a winning start.
Back to League One action next with an away trip to Rochdale and another three points after a 3-1 win with goals coming from Teddy Bishop, Idris El Mizouni and on loan youngster Alex Mighten who returned back to his parent club Nottingham Forest after suffering an injury that cuts short his loan spell.
Matchday 8 served up a bit of a snore fest with us battling to a 0-0 draw with our visitors Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road.
Luke Chambers was the fans hero when he gave a 1-0 victory with a close range header away at MK Dons in the 7th minute. A lead we had to hang on too with 10 men after Nsiala was red carded after just 15 minutes.
Another 1-0 win followed this time due to a James Norwood goal in the 40th minute away to Gillingham that puts us in to the top spot. Despite the narrow scoreline we had total domination of the game reducing the hosts to just one long range shot on target.
To end the month we entertained Tranmere Rovers at Portman Road and ran out winners with a 2-0 win with goals from Teddy Bishop and the returning Aristote Nsiala after his 1 game suspension. A good month for us with 4 wins and a draw in the League and a Trophy win.
A strange month for us started off with a 1-0 win at Highbury against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town our 5th clean sheet on the bounce with a goal from wing back Kane Vincent-Young that rattled in from the edge of the area. We followed up with a Trophy defeat on penalties after a 0-0 draw ar Fratton Park against Portsmouth.
Another clean sheet followed with a 0-0 draw at Accrington Stanley which turned out to be the first of two goalless draws back to back after we were held at home by Rotherham United. Both games we had the chances to get a win but failed to convert our chances with Will Keane being the biggest culprit missing two big chances across the two games.
We did manage to score all be it an own goal in the final game of the month in a 1-1 draw away at Southend United which extends our unbeaten League form to 14 matches including 12 clean sheets using the 4-1-3-2 system which I am very pleased about.
With a lack of goals from our front two combination I decided to change the Poacher role to an Advanced Forward alongside a Pressing Forward. I could not have made a better change starting with a 4-1 win in the FA Cup 1st round against Hartlepool with James Norwood netting a double in the Advanded Forward role replacing Will Keane in the starting line up who is struggling for form. Midfield duo Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop are also amongst the goals.
At this point I feel it’s right to give Myles Kenlock some praise because the 22 year old as made himself my number 1 pick at Left Wing Back with the consistency of a seasoned professional week in week out.
Trophy time again and a 5-0 win against Watford U23’s ensures qualification in to the next round with goals coming from James Norwood x2, Luke Woolfenden, Jack Lankester and Flynn Downes completed the scoring.
Back to good old League Football with a 3-0 against promotion chasers Blackpool at Portman Road with in form James Norwood grabbing a double and his partner in crime up front getting both assists and Jon Nolan grabbing our other goal.
The FA Cup 2nd round tie against Cambridge United rounded our month off with our two in form frontmen both Kayden Jackson and James Norwood doing the damage to see off Cambridge with a 2-0 win. Another 3-0 win followed this time away at Oxford United only this time it was Norwoods strike partner Kayden Jackson who hit a double after skipper Luke Chambers had given us a lead. It’s been a very good month for us on the pitch with the switch in roles up front bearing fruits with us winning all 5 games this month.
A very busy December kicked off with us beating Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 at Portman Road with both Kayden Jackson and James Norwood getting amongst the goals again with Jon Nolan dispatching a 72nd minute penalty to pile the misery on for the relegation battling Chairboys.
A top of the table clash against Coventry City ended in a 0-0 draw in Coventry’s back garden who slip to 4th from 2nd with us remaining on top of the tree. A 7 goal thriller with us beating Bristol Rovers by a 5-2 scoreline in front of The Tractor Boys faithful at Portman Road with a man of the match performance from 5th minute substitute Janol Donacien who scored a second half double after first half goals from Kayden Jackson, James Norwood and Jon Nolan.
A penalty shootout defeat to Cheltenham Town ended our Trophy run after a 1-1 draw with James Norwood grabbing his 10th goal in our last 9 games.
A 2-2 draw on our second visit of the season to Fratton Park against mid table Portsmouth saw Jon Nolan and Flynn Downes get our goals as I rotate Teddy Bishop with promising Tunisian playmaker Idris El Mizouni who looks a real talent for the future.
A Boxing Day 1-0 victory at Portman Road saw Flynn Downes net our winner against the visiting Gillingham after just 5 minutes was enough to see off the visitors and sendvour fans home happy over the festive period.
Just three days later we end the year with a 1-1 draw at Sincil Bank against Lincoln City who denied us a victory with a late equaliser after James Norwood was shown a red card for a wild lunge. Teddy Bishop had gave us a 1-0 lead with a solo goal in the 19th minute.
League One Table
After losing the opening game of the season we are currently on a 22 game unbeaten run which gives us a 7 point lead at the top of the table entering 2020. The run of games includes 16 clean sheets.
Singing The Blues 4-1-3-2
This is the system that we have gone 22 League games unbeaten with 16 clean sheets in the first half of the season.
So a great start to the season that will see us going in to the New Year with a 7 point lead as we mount a promotion challenge. I have agreed the transfers out of the club for Jordon Roberts, Danny Rowe and Gwion Edwards who are not in my plans going forward I have also loan listed Freddie Sears who will need some game time after returning from a long term injury.
With the outgoing transfers freeing up some wage budget I decided to extend the contracts of a number of players including Teddy Bishop, Emyr Huws and Myles Kenlock. On loan goalkeeper Will Norris is available from Wolves for around £300,000 which I am considering making a bid in the region of £250,000 over a number of instalments with around £100,00 up front.
Thank you for reading and I hope you return for our Season finale in the not too distant future…….
Coming Soon…… Can the Tractor Boys reproduce our first half of the season performance and gain promotion to the Championship? Or will the wheels fall off with our push for promotion.