It’s a tournament that Paul Lambert labelled as ‘pointless’ yesterday, but Ipswich fans won’t feel that this morning after watching their side beat Spurs Under 21’s in the EFL Trophy.
An early opener by Armando Shashoua gave the Tractor Boys a mountain to climb in the fixture, but former Crawley attacker Jordan Roberts proved his worth with a brace to secure a 2-1 win.
The much-maligned tournament has seen boycotts, low attendances and managers claiming it’s a hindrance, but it has its value. Ipswich fielded a number of fringe players last night, some looking to impress and others hoping to get match fitness and 90 minutes under their belt.
These games will never be classics and the presence of Under 21 teams does cause some fans problems, but it’s a game of football and it is there to be won. In the absence of good reserve leagues, this is as close as some players will get to stake a claim for a first team place.
How did the Ipswich fringe players go about that last night? Here are three things we learnt about the Tractor Boys squad after their 2-1 win.
Roberts is the big winner from last night’s fixture. He had had a horrible time since joining from Crawley, he struggled in the Championship and then failed to get games when loaned out to Lincoln City in League Two.
He’s clearly not in Paul Lambert’s plans, or he wasn’t until last night. Two well-taken goals have ensured his name is the one that stands out most from the win, perhaps giving the manager something to think about this weekend.
The young Albanian was arguably the Man of the Match last night and he’s given everyone a glimpse of his potential against Spurs.
Playing against lads of a similar age, he looked like a full first team player. He’s tenacious, skilful and will have served up a real selection problem for Lambert. His outing surely warrants a place on the bench this weekend.
The EFL Trophy pits men against boys, but those men have to show their dominance, assert themselves as the senior professionals and remain focused on the task in hand.
James Wilson started a couple of matches for Ipswich earlier in the season and played last night in the middle of a three-man backline. He was every inch the senior pro, organising his own players and making the most of his inclusion in the side.
He was released by Lincoln City last season but on this form, he’s worthy of a first team place with the Tractor Boys. Paul Lambert will surely have taken note.