Say what you will about the EFL Trophy, but one thing it provides is an excellent platform for our young guns to perform and last night, perform they did!
Manager Paul Lambert took over interview duties from his assistant Stuart Taylor when the final whistle blew and whether this was because the side played so well is open to debate. There is little doubt however, Towns display yesterday evening must have made the whole management team very proud indeed. Tweets and messages on football notice boards afterwards indicate that supporters who saw the game live, or watched the highlights later, were equally impressed!
The 4-4-3 format that the manager has been using to such good effect in the first-team picture was evident again at Portman Road, as a very young Ipswich Town team defeated a much more experienced Gillingham side quite convincingly in the end.
It would be unfair to single out individual performances in what was an excellent team display but it would be equally unfair to not give praise where praise is due. Armando Dobra, Elkan Baggott and Liam Gibbs all played outstandingly well to name but three but there was a collective understanding that comes from players who know each other’s games so well.
We all know about the rich potential of Armando Dobra and it was on show again, as he tried an audacious chip from near the halfway line in the first half, and then thumped a piledriver into the roof of the net via the underside of the bar in the second period. He was sensational moving forward and was so very difficult to dispossess. Gibbs laid on the second goal for Folami, after chasing what seemed like a lost cause, and 17-year-old Baggott showed maturity beyond his years at the back, and he is a truly precocious talent, who has a very bright future in the game.
In truth, I was impressed with all of them for different reasons and David Cornell in goal made a couple of important saves in the first half when the Town defence was briefly under the cosh. The more experienced Janoi Donacien and Luke Woolfenden ensured that those edgy moments receded the longer the game went on.
Both manager’s said before the game that this competition was an unnecessary waste of time, and Lambert reiterated much the same in his post-match interview. He is right to a point of course but it does provide our younger players with a chance to show their true worth and last night at Portman Road they made everybody sit up and observe their raw talent.