Town on a high with rising teen star Wickham
Ipswich Town 2 Cardiff City 0
Monday 20 September 2010
It is not often a proven goalscorer with Premier League experience plays second fiddle to a 17-year-old, but Jason Scotland doesn't mind one bit.
The striker, who on Saturday netted his second Ipswich goal in five games since joining from Wigan, has been awestruck by the sheer physicality and ability of the teenaged Connor Wickham, who also has admirers among the top echelon of managers with Spurs and Arsenal known to be keen.
Wickham led the line against Cardiff to great effect, with Scotland happy to tuck in just behind him playing a supporting role. "Connor is a big, powerful lad. When I joined the club and saw him close-up I couldn't believe that someone so big and strong could be just 17. He could have had a hat-trick [on Saturday] but as he matures the goals will come," Scotland said.
So convinced is he that Town have a special talent in their midst that Scotland is prepared to stick his neck out with bold assertions. "No disrespect to Ipswich," said Scotland, "But I can see him going on to play for one of the really big clubs and I also expect him to play for England.
"He has everything he needs because apart from his natural strength he also has a football brain and the skill to go with it. He is more of a handful to defenders than I am because he is so much better in the air."
And, Scotland adds, it is not just the opposition who need to be afraid of the talented Wickham. "When we play games in training the defenders don't like to be on the opposite side to him. He is so physical and puts himself about. He loves a battle. He can only get better."
An own-goal from another teenager, the 18-year-old substitute Adam Matthews, swung this game Ipswich's way and Cardiff never recovered.
Scotland secured the victory that let Ipswich overtake Cardiff and move into second spot behind QPR with a well-taken finish. Matthews again was at fault as Scotland latched on to a long ball forward from Tom Eastman and shrugged off the defender's challenge.
Wickham was denied a penalty by the Essex official Fred Graham when Gabor Gyepes shoved him over from behind as he shaped to shoot. The burly teenager was also denied a goal of his own by goalkeeper David Marshall after getting the better of Lee Naylor in the air and evading a sliding tackle from Mark Hudson.
While the front men were getting the plaudits, defender Gareth McAuley kept Ipswich in the game as Cardiff dominated the earlier action. The Northern Ireland international headed off the line with goalkeeper Marton Fulop beaten by the flight of Peter Whittingham's in-swinging corner.
The winger Whittingham later refused to be too harsh on Matthews' own-goal. He said: "That happens in football. After that he [Matthews] looked OK and recovered well. Hopefully he can recover from that."
Nor would he allow the absence of big guns such as Craig Bellamy to be used as an excuse for two defeats in a week. "The lads who are playing would probably say not, but Craig Bellamy is Craig Bellamy. The lads are thinking we have a good enough squad to win games when he is not out there – we got to the play-off final last season with the squad here so we can't use the disappointment that Craig is not playing. We must go back to the drawing board, create chances and take them."
Ipswich Town (4-4-2) Fulop; Eastman, McAuley, Smith, O'Dea; Edwards, Norris, Leadbitter, Townsend (Peters, 54); Scotland (C Healy, 78), Wickham (Priskin, 83). Substitutes not used Hyam, Murray, Kennedy, Murphy.
Cardiff City (4-4-2) Marshall; McNaughton (Matthews, h-t), Hudson, Gyepes, Naylor; Burke, McPhail (Rae, h-t), Blake, Whittingham; Bothroyd (Koumas, h-t), Keogh. Substitutes not used Quinn, Wildig, Jarvis, Heaton.
Referee: F Graham (Essex)
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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