Ipswich Town 3 Southend United 1 – Six observations

Ipswich Town finished their pre-season campaign with a 3-1 home win against Southend United last night. STUART WATSON reflects on the action.

Tyreece John-Jules gives Town a 1-0 lead.

Tyreece John-Jules (obscured) puts Ipswich Town ahead with a sweet volley.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com


Kieran McKenna named a completely different side to the one that started last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Millwall.

Out went Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burns, Morsy, Evans, Penney, Chaplin, Harness and Ladapo. In came Hladky, Vincent-Young, Ndaba, Burgess, Edwards, Humphreys, Harper, Leigh, Aluko, John-Jules and Jackson.

It would be grossly unfair to label this the ‘B team’, but it is pretty clear that most of them will be starting the campaign as the supporting cast.

Sone Aluko twists and turns on the ball.

Sone Aluko twists and turns on the ball.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com

Could anyone play well enough in this final warm-up match to force their way into the team for Saturday’s League One opener against Bolton? On the first half showing, you’d have said several will have given their boss some serious food for thought.

Town were on the front foot from the first whistle. Sone Aluko and Cameron Humphreys calmly and classily pulled the strings. Kyle Edwards and Tyreece John-Jules were dynamic and direct. Kane Vincent-Young (playing on the right side of a back three), Greg Leigh and Kayden Jackson added to the positive athleticism.

Only a string of good saves from visiting keeper Steve Arnold kept the score at 1-0 come the interval.

A crowd of 4,616 voiced their appreciation as the players took the field.


Ipswich Town’s lack of set-piece goals was a real talking point last season. It got to the stage where supporters would sarcastically chant ‘we’re going to score from a corner’ whenever one was forced.

By all accounts, the Blues have worked hard on improving in that very important area of ​​the game this summer. And it’s starting to show.

Kyle Edwards with a shot.

Kyle Edwards with a shot that was well-saved.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com

Dominic Ball headed home from a deep Aluko dead ball delivery in the 4-2 defeat at Crystal Palace. Last night, John-Jules showed great movement and technique to volley home Aluko’s free-kick into the box.

Aluko provided some dangerous corners too. One skidding low drive was cleverly dummied by John-Jules before Corrie Ndaba’s shot was blocked (a move straight off the training pitch). Another couple of inswingers were well flicked on by the leaping John-Jules at the near post.

Ipswich play a brand of football which is going to win lots of free-kicks and corners. Hopefully they are going to make more of those in 2022/23.

Cameron Humphreys in action against Southend.

Cameron Humphreys (right) in action against Southend.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com


Remember when outgoing Under-23s boss Kieron Dyer labeled Cameron Humphreys the ‘second best midfielder at the club’ back in March? I’m beginning to see why.

The 18-year-old plays with incredible maturity. He’s always creating angles to receive the ball and, constantly scanning the field, knows exactly what he’s going to do once he gets it. He knows how to use his body, be it strongly shielding the ball from opponents or subtly feinting to send them the wrong way. Once that space is created he can drive into it or pick a pass.

He’s not afraid to organize and orchestrate either. As this game began to go a little flat (we’ll come onto that in a minute), you could see Humphreys constantly gesturing to others what positions to take up.

Can this talented teenager break into the team this season? It’s not going to be easy with Sam Morsy, Lee Evans and Ball as competition. Keep progressing at this rate though and there may come a time where it’s impossible to overlook.


Southend (who finished 13th in the National League last season) changed their entire XI at the break.

Following the restart, Ipswich rather took their foot off the gas.

Nevertheless, a slick second goal was added just before the hour mark. John-Jules provided the defense-splitting forward pass, Edwards swept in a first time cross and Leigh stormed into the box to finish.

Greg Leigh makes it 2-0.

Greg Leigh coolly slots home Ipswich Town’s second goal.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com

McKenna made three changes. Town, having already let their intensity dip, allowed their concentration levels to slip too.

Jack Wood tested Vaclav Hladky with an angled shot. Moments later, Callum Powell latched onto a ball over the top, got the wrong side of Cameron Burgess, and finished to make it 2-1. Not long after that, Powell drifted inside from the left and curled a fine shot against the woodwork.

Within the space of seven minutes Town had almost managed to throw away a position of complete control.

It brought back some memories of last season when Ipswich were repeatedly left to rue not killing matches off when well on top.

Ipswich Town keeper Christian Walton makes a save.

Ipswich Town keeper Christian Walton makes a save.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com

“We dropped that (focus) today after half-time, no doubt,” admitted McKenna.

“If you take your eye off the ball a little bit and think you can coast through then the tide of the game can change.

“It’s a good lesson for us.”


After that sloppy seven minute spell, McKenna rang the changes. On came the likes of Morsy, Harness, Chaplin, Burns and Ladapo for a late run out.

Freddie Ladapo connects with the ball, ahead of scoring to give Town a 3-1 lead.

Freddie Ladapo rises highest in the box to head home Ipswich Town’s third goal.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com

It was great to see the latter two combine for a third goal late on. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

Burns, who has had a pretty quiet pre-season by his standards, guided in an accurate cross from the right and Ladapo did superbly to rise highest and expertly direct a header into the far corner of the net.

That’s three goals in five pre-season games for the striker since his arrival on a free transfer from Rotherham.

With McKenna understood to be keen to further bolster his forward option (Leicester City’s George Hirst a prime target), Ladapo should be going into the campaign fully motivated to hit the ground running.

Leif Davis watching from the director's box.

Ipswich Town new boy Leif Davis watching from the directors’ box.
– Credit: Steve Waller – stephenwaller.com


Altogether, 23 different players featured in this game.

Three notable absentees from the squad were Leif Davis, Dominic Ball and Idris El Mizouni.

New boy Davis was understandably not considered ready. He only got back from a pre-season tour of Australia with Leeds on Monday, rushing straight to Portman Road to complete his £1m+ switch. Time will tell if he’ll be involved against Bolton on Saturday.

Ball missed out through injury again. He suffered an ‘ankle knock’ in training last week. McKenna says that recovery is “going to take a little more time than we first thought”.

El Mizouni, meanwhile, looks set for another temporary move away.

“We’re talking to him about his path,” said McKenna. “He has lots of loan interest. And there might be an update on that in the next few days.”

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