Ipswich Town 1 Birmingham City 0
I just got up having had the strangest dream, that we were back in the First
Division, playing teams whose tackling makes all that studying to be a
surgeon worthwhile, but whose primary aim in a match is to see how many
times they can catch the opposition offside.
Oh no! It wasn’t a dream!
I don’t suppose it was a deliberate tactic by Francis to drag the match down
to their level – what other options does he have? But he couldn’t have hoped
for it to have happened much better. It took ages for us to start playing
what we’ve come to expect now as our normal style, and we never really got
it going for sustained periods. The way in which the strikers kept getting
caught offside (especially Marcus) was so disappointing, but I think they’ve
forgotten what a crude offside trap actually is (and how to beat it).
Despite that, we carved more than enough chances, and promptly squandered
them. After the initial shock for Veno and Titus of coming up against
strikers out of a Hammer Horror movie (was it only six months ago this was
happening every week?), the pair settled down to cope very comfortably, and
the lack of any creativity on the wings for Birmingham meant Fab and HH
could get forward more than they’ve been able to on any occasion since last
season. Sadly, the central midfield didn’t really get going though.
Still, if the clean sheet and our away form isn’t enough now, then Cardiff
was never meant to be.
Some ratings (4-4-2):
Wright 7 – confident, but little to do; had most things covered
Wilnis 8 – some lovely skill going forward, little troubled at the back,
even when Lazaridis (who had a stinker) came on for 20 minutes.
Bramble 7 – competent in the air against Adebola and on the ground against
Ndlovu, a couple of giveaways but immediately made a saving tackle both
times. Distribution very suspect though.
Venus 7 – again, handled both the front pair well, only a lapse into First
Division Punt Mode (TM) on a couple of occasions marred things
Hreidarsson 9 – once he realised after about half an hour that he might as
well go off for a fag for all the defending he was going to be called on to
do, he decided to be Clive Woods and Ray Crawford rolled into one. Kept
popping up everywhere (in Birmingham’s half) and by the end was starting to
get carried away so much he was taking punts from anywhere. Lovely skill at
times though, and tremendously entertaining. Shame the header hit the post.
Wright 7 – nice, neat performance, always making the options for the player
on the ball, back to what he’s been doing best. Missed a sitter though.
Magilton 6 – although we’ve missed Jim’s ability to swing the play from side
to side, anyone else think his absence has highlighted how much his style
slows our play down? Restrained himself commendably from shooting to set
Jermaine up for a sitter, watched him blow it, then restrained himself
commendably from committing suicide.
Holland 6 – struggled with the surface (in terms of staying upright) for a
long time, and never really got stuck in for some reason. Better when he
made some glorious runs into the box in the second half.
Clapham 8 – looked really sharp, made the options and used them too. Victim
of a bad decision to substitute him late on. If a second goal was going to
come, I’d have bet money Jamie was where it would have come from.
Scowcroft 6 – won most things in the air although control let him down a few
too many times as usual. Great header deserved a goal (but equally good
save). Didn’t gel with Stewart though.
Stewart 7 – always intelligent and able to look round for the options while
the ball is coming to him (as opposed to Scowie’s watch ball all the way,
control, try to control again, then look for options technique). But docked
a point for getting caught offside so often, that one really seemed to catch
Sub Reuser 6 – straight swap for what Jamie was doing, but didn’t keep up
Ref: 4 – idiot, the only thing which surprised me was that after letting so
many hospital tackles go by without a booking, he didn’t then find something
petty to book a player for.
Crowd 7 – North Stand’s shouting of “handball” every time a Birmingham
player touched the ball for a couple of minutes was a high point though.
Sonner – ha ha, sorry mate, definitely a penalty.