Ipswich have always had a reputation for a good youth policy dating back to the days of Kevin Beattie, George Burley and Roger Osbourne in the 70’s and their latest bunch of Academy graduates looked a useful outfit today as they saw City’s Under 18’s off at Treforest – the 4-1 victory margin not flattering them in the slightest if I’m being honest. That said, I’m not sure they had a great deal to beat – I don’t want to be too harsh on our kids (especially when I’m pretty sure that it’s the first time I’ve seen more than halof o0f them play at Under 18 leve)l, but, certainly in the first half, they were second best by a long way to an Ipswich side who were handed a couple of goals early on and could easily have doubled that lead by half time.
After an even first five or six minutes, City fell behind when they gave away a cheap free kick on the corner of the penalty area and Ipswich’s number 11 (a gifted dribbler who caused a lot of problems) bent in a shot cum cross into a very dangerous area, no one got a touch on the ball and it ended up in the corner of Liam Matthews’ net. It’s probably harsh to blame the keeper for what happened because it was the sort of ball that he couldn’t really commit to until all of the attackers had missed it and by then it was too late, but it still looked a very soft goal both in terms of how the free kick was given away and how what was probably meant as a cross ended up in the net.
The next time City’s defence came under pressure, they cracked again when their number 11 tried to dribble his way out of his own half and, predictably, lost the ball. However, even after this mistake, the defence still had another couple of chances to clear the danger, but failed to do so and the Ipswich number 10 swept him a low shot from the edge of the penalty area to leave our youngsters with a big hill to climb with only about quarter of an hour played. Quite how the visitors, didn’t add to their lead before half time I’m not sure – their number nine hit the crossbar with a header from a corner, Matthews also foiled him with a fine save and their elusive number eleven volleyed over from close in when he probably should have scored. All City had to offer in response at this time was a low long range drive from Gethyn Hill which bounced off the post and one or two decent balls into the goalmouth which caused some consternation in the visitor’s defence.
It was hard to see a way back into the game for City at half time, but, fair play to them, they gave it a right go in the second half as they pressed Ipswich further up the pitch and enjoyed the majority of the possession and territorial advantage and, after being a virtual spectator in the first half, the Ipswich keeper showed his agility with a couple of fine saves from Hill and captain Bowen. The first of these chances was provided by a superb fifty yard run by Tyler Roche and it’s strange that, with wingers conspicuous by their absence in the first team squad, that there were two on view for the Development team on Wednesday and another two in action at Treforest this morning – that wasn’t the only time Roche caught the eye either, his speed and dribbling ability gave the Ipswich left hand side plenty of problems and he, along with left back Kane Owen, were the pick of the City team in my book.
With Hill also proving a handful up front, City forced a series of corners, but the delivery from these set pieces was generally poor and Ipswich made sure of the win when they broke from another misdirected corner and their centre forward raced unchallenged from the half way line and scored with a fierce low shot which looked to go through Matthews on it’s way into the net. Any goal for City now would be nothing more than a consolation, but they got the reward their second forty five minutes deserved when Jaye Bowen neatly volleyed in a cross from the right from about fifteen yards, only for them to be caught on the break again within a minute as the visitors restored their three goal lead with a simple close in finish.
The rest of what was an entertaining game passed off pretty quietly and the early indications are that life will be no easier in the new league set up for the Academy team than it was in the old one where they tended to finish in the sixth to eighth positions in a ten team league. It’s early days yet and, perhaps, they have faced a couple of the better sides in the new set up so far, but a record of played two, lost two with a goal difference of 2-6 is suggesting that it might well be a similar type of season for them this time around.