Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View | OneFootball

Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View | OneFootball

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Football League World

·23 February 2024

Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View

Article image:Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View

Ipswich Town needed a last-minute Omari Hutchinson strike to defeat rock-bottom Rotherham United 4-3 at Portman Road on Tuesday evening

The Millers are renowned for their disastrous away form in the Championship, with just four draws from their 16 matches on the road this season, but they came so close to making it five against the Tractor Boys.


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Tom Eaves put the visitors ahead before a Wes Burns brace either side of Kieffer Moore’s effort seemed to put Kieran McKenna’s side into an unassailable lead after just half an hour.

But the Suffolk outfit struggled to keep hold of their advantage against the league’s worst side, with Hakeem Odoffin pulling one back on the hour mark before Cafu’s panenka penalty in injury time levelled matters.

Chelsea loanee Hutchinson spared his side’s blushes with the winner just a minute later, but allowing the visitors to score three times on the road in a Championship match for the first time since January 2021 shows how porous their defence is.

Tractor Boys’ defence could be their undoing in promotion charge

Article image:Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View

In fact, FotMob shows that the Millers racked up a total of 1.71 xG (expected goals) during the contest on Tuesday - a worrying total for a side that is looking to continue their battle at the top of the Championship table.

When you compare that to promotion rivals Leeds United and Southampton against Rotherham recently, the pair only let their opponents muster 0.30 and 0.32 respectively, with both seeing out comfortable victories.

The match at Portman Road continued a worrying trend for Town, who have now registered just one clean sheet in their past nine matches in all competition, which came in a 4-0 victory over troubled Millwall last week.

With 14 goals conceded in that time - including two at the hands of sixth-tier side Maidstone United in their humbling FA Cup defeat at the end of January - it is the defensive side of the game that could begin to hamper any realistic promotion push this year.

48 points from their first 20 league games saw them sitting comfortable in the second automatic promotion position, before a turn-around in form saw Southampton and Leeds United close the gap - with the latter now edging into the top two on goal difference before the weekend.

Article image:Ipswich Town win over Rotherham United papered over cracks and this stat underlines it: View

While the Tractor Boys bolstered their attacking ranks in January with the additions of Moore from AFC Bournemouth, Ali Al-Hamadi from AFC Wimbledon and Jeremy Sarmiento from Brighton and Hove Albion, it is at the back where recruits should have been added too.

Rumours were circulating about a January move from Wigan Athletic’s Charlie Hughes, with the England under-20's international impressing for the Latics in League One this season.

The defender would have been someone who could seamlessly fit into Kieran McKenna’s style of play, with his calmness on the ball and passing ability matched by his solidity at the back.

It looks like a costly lack of judgement for the Tractor Boys going forward, with Luke Woolfenden and Cameron Burgess beginning to creak at the heart of the backline.

Leif Davis and Harry Clarke’s ability to bomb forward and create ample goalscoring opportunities has won many plaudits this season, but a little bit more balance between attack and defence would steady the ship.

A run of fixtures against teams placed 12th and below follow for Town, with their next big test coming on April 1 when they host promotion battlers Southampton.

Now it’s time to see what they are really made of, and if they can tweak their system to squeeze out results; they’ve only had four 1-0 victories all season - maybe it is time to McKenna to adapt his tactics to shut up shop at the back to try and create a more solid and stable side.

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