Ryan Tunnicliffe Loan Watch 2013-14: September At Ipswich Town

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By Dan George (Ipswich Town supporter)

Good Morning, Good… ah you know the rest! What did September bring us? Well, four games and nine points which isn’t half bad going in the Championship, if anything it was a month mostly lived by the Big Mick mantra of win your home games then be hard to beat away. As for Ryan Tunnicliffe he continued on the left wing and boy did he impress! I think it’s fairly unanimous amongst us Town fans that the left side of our 11 is the strongest area of our team, and possibly the league (rivalled by Assou-Ekotto and Junior Hoilett at QPR). Tunnicliffe and full back Aaron Cresswell have really strung up a top partnership.

Over a six or so game period they have formed an understanding, they going forward as a pair at pace, one pegging the full back deep before creating space allowing the other to cross or burst into the box creating and scoring goals. It’s no surprise that Cresswell is top of our assist chart and it certainly wouldn’t be at all a surprise if this partnership and its dynamics is something Terry Connor has been drumming into the two on the training ground.

Ipswich Town 3-1 Middlesbrough – Saturday, 14 September 2013

Middlesbrough were first up after the international break. Mick McCarthy selected the same starting XI as he did two weeks earlier at Birmingham, with Luke Hyam surprisingly continuing in the centre alongside Cole Skuse, and for the first 20 minutes a vastly experienced ‘Boro team looked as if they were on the money taking a swift lead whilst passing the ball around all over the shop as the midfield trio of Dean Whitehead, Grant Leadbitter and Jacob Butterfield caused all sorts of issues for our two man industrious pair of Hyam and Skuse.

However as per usual in the Championship games are never dominated from start to finish and Town gradually started to gain a greater share of possession. On 34’ David McGoldrick received the ball 30 yards from goal, turned Whitehead inside out and hammered a low shot into the far corner. This broke ‘Boro and they didn’t look the same side, their pressing was less intense, nor did they move the ball around with the same zip as they had previously done. From the goal ’til half time Town dominated and pressed but to no avail, which probably was a fair reflection given the spells of dominance from both sides in the half.  Now I’ve often said we lack a second striker to play alongside McGoldrick and after another Frank Nouble no show Mick went back to his original number 9 in Daryl Murphy, and for the first time this season the guy actually made a noticeable difference! He won flick-ons, hassled defenders and did the nasty frontline work that lets your better players play.

The second goal was crafted down the left with Tunnicliffe working the full back deep towards the byline before laying the ball back for Aaron Cresswell to whip in a cross for right back and captain Luke Chambers to head home. Town continued to press but it didn’t come without its scares as ‘keeper Dean Gerken was needed to make at least two goal saving efforts.

The third goal came in the 90th minute when McGoldrick was fed a ball over the top which left him in a straight race with Jonathan Woodgate. I don’t think the outcome needs describing too much other than it was cool finish across the ‘keeper.

Ipswich Town 2-1 Yeovil – Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Three days later the big boys came to Town! Now no disrespect to Yeovil but we’ve won the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and at the risk of sounding like a Liverpool fan, we shouldn’t be losing to a team that consists of several unknown footballers to most fans. Of course a FA Cup style half of bigger club huff and puff, small club smash and grab ensued. Town noticeably utilised the left side with Tunnicliffe and Cresswell involved in virtually every passage of play. Tunnicliffe’s energetic bustling style has been highlighted as a clear strength of the team, however his final ball is an area that requires improvement. He’s obviously a lot keener and confident to shoot on sight now, one particular rasping effort from 30 yards looked destined for the top corner but for the fingertips of Wayne Hennessey.

However the breakthrough came with Yeovil on the counter. One long ball forward picked up by winger Joel Grant (who?), who went on a mazy run and unleashed an effort into the top corner on the stroke of half time. Surprised? Course not! This is Ipswich Town, this kind of rubbish happens all the time!

The second half was typically un-Town-like. On 53′ Daryl Murphy drew the Blues level with a game of headers and volleys involving ‘keeper and crossbar until the striker decided this was no longer fun and scored with his thigh. A contender for worst finish of the season!

Town continued to press and seven minutes later Tunnicliffe received the ball on half way and broke down the left hand side. He surged level with the penalty area and laid a pass to Cresswell whose driven effort was blocked, he pounced on the rebound and picked out the top right corner with a bit of a swinger with his weaker right foot. Yeovil then looked to break dangerously with pace and they almost pulled level at the death with Liam Davies (who?) catching our back four out completely with a run to the back post, but thankfully his effort was very very very tame (yes, it was that poor I used the same word 3 times).

A decent performance and three points, not much else to add apart from the continued success of Tunnicliffe & Cresswell on the left.

Wigan Athletic 2-0 Ipswich Town – Sunday, 22 September 2013

Nick Powell, Nick ‘Flipping’ Powell. Yes your Nick Powell! After the optimism of back to back home wins a Sunday trip to the not so exhausted Wigan after their UEFA Cup (it’s not the Europa League, I don’t care what anyone says) game on Thursday. But little did we know that Luke Chambers hitting the crossbar after two minutes was soon to become the theme of the day. We created chance after chance but we just could not score, even the ever reliant McGoldrick was wasteful. The left hand side was once again dangerous but they were unable to provide the killer goods.

Wigan took the lead mid way through the first half when Powell delivered a deep corner which was headed home by Wigan debutant Ryan Shotton. From then on it was much of the same with Town looking like a (brace yourself for a Ian Holloway-esq metaphor) Tiger with no claws and no mouth, yeah, you know it looks dangerous, maybe looks scary but it won’t kill you, probably.

And as this vegetarian Tiger continued to miss chances, Wigan put a ball over the top for Town ‘keeper Dean Gerken to completely mess up and gift Nick Powell a goal on 88’.

I suppose creating chances and missing is better than not creating and have none to miss, surely?

Ipswich Town 2-0 Brighton – Saturday, 28 September 2013

After the striking no show at Wigan it was time to unleash that killer instinct again (promise I won’t mention any tigers this time). Brighton are usually the kind of team that take us apart, they are the Swansea of the Championship with their slick passing football and pacey wide players. So for Town to dominate in what was tight affair with our “Don’t get beat” mantra was a real surprise and signal of progress for many. In the words of Brighton boss Oscar Garcia, “the difference between the teams was McGoldrick”, he couldn’t have been more right, we played some nice stuff with everyone involved putting in solid 7s, but when your striker turns his man from 20 yards and lashes home, that’s all you need from the rest of the team.

The second was an excellent strikers goal. McGoldrick with his back to goal, at the corner of the box turned one way, then the other, left his man on his backside before firing across the ‘keeper for a 2-0 lead before half time. If I’m being truthful we heavily rely on his goals, without him we would be struggling no doubt whatsoever!

The second half was much the same, Brighton had given up the ghost to be honest and McGoldrick missed an easier chance for his hat trick than the two already converted. Again, like the rest of the team Tunnicliffe was efficiently tidy, working hard as ever but he was unable to supply the killer quality in wide areas needed if we are to be taken seriously in the top 6, however this win had propelled us up to 8th and 3 points off the top 6.

I think we’ve got to the point that we know what we’re going to get from the Manchester United youngster. He works hard and creates chances for Cresswell and McGoldrick to hurt teams with goals or crosses. I must say that not only Ryan but the whole midfield really needs to weigh in with goals otherwise we’ll start getting hurt and we could see a resurgence of a late stutter.  Also, it must be said that I still believe Ryan would be better utilised through the middle, just to add some creativity to what is an extremely industrious central midfield at the moment. Looking forward to October we have three away games and in our only home game league leaders Burnley visit Portman Road. Anything more than 5 points is going to be a good return. Here’s to hoping!

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Dan is a member of the TWTD forum.
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