With Sol Campbell taking charge of his first game, Southend United were hoping for the new manager bounce to take effect straight away, after their humbling 7-1 loss midweek to Doncaster. Ipswich Town were also looking to get back on track, as following an 11-game unbeaten run they had lost their last two fixtures. The team from Suffolk came out on top in this EPL League One fixture, with Ipswich winning 3-1.
Having failed to score in their previous two matches, Ipswich manager Paul Lambert looked to increase his side’s goal threat with both James Norwood and Kayden Jackson starting up front together. Campbell’s tactics were to try and nullify this threat, fielding a back three to try to sure up his defence. While it was an improvement on their previous game, both Norwood and Jackson made it onto the scoresheet in what was a comfortable win for the away side.
This tactical analysis will look to provide an in-depth analysis of each side’s tactics, to see how Lambert’s side managed to overcome their opponents and end the day back at the top of the League One table.
With Ethan Hamilton and Stephen McLaughlin sent off against Doncaster, Campbell had to make several changes for his first official match in charge. Goalkeeper Mark Oxley returned, after his understudy, Nathan Bishop, had leaked seven goals in their previous. The three centre-backs were Robert Kernan on the right, Joe Shaughnessy on the right and Timothee Dieng in the middle. Simon Cox, who has primarily played as a striker this season was tasked with sitting just behind the two main forwards of Tom Hopper and Stephen Humphrys.
Ipswich also made several changes to the side that lost at home to Rotherham. Norwood returned from injury to lead the line, and youngster Flynn Downes started in the middle of the park alongside Cole Skuse. Will Norris got his first start of the season, replacing Tomas Holy in goal.
Norwood and Jackson’s duel threat
Having won eight and drawn three of their opening 11 fixtures, Ipswich had lost some momentum in recent weeks. Injuries were seen as the cause of this, with Norwood missing two games following groin surgery. The former Tranmere player had been so key in the first few months of the season, so having him back in the side to link up with fellow striker Jackson gave Ipswich a cutting edge they’d sorely missed.
Straight from kick-off, Norwood and Jackson chased down the ball together, putting the defender under immediate pressure. With Jackson cutting off the simple ball to his defensive partner, Kernan was forced to go long. This singled their intent, that the Southend defenders would not be granted time on the ball without being aggressively closed down.
While both starting through the middle, Jackson tended to run the channels and make runs into wide areas, while Norwood acted as the physical presence in the middle.
Following a surging run from left-back Luke Garbutt, a deflected pass found the ball in the left channel, behind the Southend defence. Jackson quickly darted into this space, while Norwood ran toward the penalty spot.
Jackson was able to pick out his team-mate, who despite being closed down by Dieng had a simple finish to score his second of the game. This highlights how well the two worked together, with both having different but equally important roles in causing the Southend defenders problems.
Cox dropping back to link play
One of the most noticeable changes the new Southend manager was to drop Cox into a number ten role, playing in front of the two holding midfielders of Mark Milligan and Isaac Hutchinson, but behind Humphrys and Hopper.
As Ipswich only played with two central midfielders, it meant that Southend had Cox as the spare man in the centre of the pitch. This example shows the space he had in front of him; with the strikers moving wide and dragging the central defenders with them, it meant there was plenty of space through the middle to run into.
Here Cox received the ball on the half-turn and quickly played it out to the right flank. With the centre-back Luke Chambers pushing up to close him down, it meant once the ball was played there was a big gap for Cox to run into. Unfortunately, the possession was soon turned over, but it showed that playing an attacking midfielder as well as two recognized strikers would lead to gaps opening up in the opponent’s half.
The further the game progressed and Ipswich started to control the game, Cox and Southend struggled to pick the ball up in dangerous positions.
Cox highlighted here was the furthest player forward, as the home side were made to defend in numbers as the League One leaders looked to add to their lead. That meant that Cox struggled to find gaps to pick the ball up in dangerous areas, nullifying his attacking threat. It will be interesting to see if he plays in this position again in future matches, or if Campbell decides to re-deploy him as a striker.
Change at right-back sees Ipswich attacking less down the flanks.
Kane Vincent-Young has quickly acclimatized to life in League One, having previously played with Ipswich’s local rivals Colchester in League Two. His athleticism on the right side has seen him getting forward frequently to aid attacks, whether playing as a right-back in a 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1, or as a right-wing-back in a 3-5-2.
Having gone up for a throw-in, instead of immediately retreating back to his defensive position, Vincent-Young stayed forward, looking for options in the box to cross to. On this occasion, the chance lead to nothing, but his positive runs forward were a real asset to Ipswich’s attacking play.
It is not just his offensive play that is so valuable; Vincent-Young’s defensive work is very important to his side.
Southend worked the ball out to the left flank, with Nathan Ralph looking to cut inside. Vincent-Young cut the option off by stepping to his left, encouraging the run down the line. Ralph then took this option, looking to cross into the middle.
Instead of the cross finding its intended target, Vincent Young blocked the ball, with the resulting corner leading to nothing. This demonstrates how his defence skills are just as important to Lambert’s team.
Unfortunately for him and Ipswich, the young full-back was forced off with an injury after 59 minutes. James Wilson came on, with Luke Woolfenden switching to right-back.
While a capable defender, Woolfenden (number 28) is used to playing centrally, so he never really looked to go forward into wide positions. So with Vincent-Young off the pitch, Ipswich lost forward momentum on the right-hand side of the pitch.
Both sides came into this game needing a result to stop a bad run of form. Ipswich took control early on in the game and never looked back, with the win taking them back to the top of League One. The home side were definitely improved from their mid-week thrashing by Doncaster, but Campbell will have his work cut out to save his side from slipping out of League One next May.
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