Ipswich Town 0 Burnley 0
Oh not again. Anyone commenting on this match is going to seem like a stuck record. Walters on the left two home games ago: bad idea. Repeating the experiment last home game: infuriatingly stupid. Persisting for a third great match: unforgivably naive and stubborn.
One or two players may not have been that great this afternoon, but it’s Jim who has to stand up and take the blame for quite unnecessarily throwing away two points. Listen, Jim: nobody’s going to complain about you giving young players like Danny Haynes a chance. Even though Billy Clarke didn’t set the world alight in his extended run, it was great to see him get the opportunity. The difference between that and the current absurdity was that playing Billy never meant sacrificing possibly the side’s biggest threat this season, Jon Walters’ rampaging runs in from the right.
Rearrange the following words: Play. Your. Strengths. To.
At least Jim, like the rest of us, had clearly had enough of Williams’ insipid performances in central midfield, and Tommy Miller was rightfully restored to his position there. Good to see Alex Bruce back too, although I still haven’t heard a decent explanation for Dan Harding’s continued absence. The pattern for the game was set early on: Lee missed a sitter, Miller hit the bar – we obviously were going to have to work doubly hard for a goal today. Burnley’s defence were solid, and their midfield were terrierlike in clamping down on Counago if he dropped deep to lose the big guys. Gradually, however, they lost their composure in the face of being passed out of the game, and resorted to some uglier tactics which resulted in a red card (and that should have been their second for foul play, and possibly their third if the ref had been less lenient with the appalling conduct of the right-back, a guy who defines “attitude problem”).
If Burnley weren’t aiming for a draw in the first half, they certainly were once they’d gone a man down. And with the service to Lee fatally compromised by the missing Walters supply line, only Pablo represented a threat, so they naturally poured all their defensive resources into ensuring he never got a sight of goal. The result was that our best chances were longer-range efforts from Tommy and Owen, and we should never have to rely on that at home. If Jim can’t make the machine function as well as it ought to when he so clearly has the proven components available, I don’t hold out any hope of a magical gearchange in the new year with a few bob to spend on improved parts. I’d take the position we’re in at Christmas, of course, but it really could be better, and that’s irritating.
Overall Town performance:
5/10 – passed it around well, rarely looked threatened, and impressively avoided rising to Burnley’s provocation. But dealt with too easily up front.
7/10 – unadventurous, but strong and efficient where it mattered. Annoying.
7/10 – I’d have liked to see him stand up to the right-back’s arrogant attitude more, but in retrospect he kept the lid on the game pretty well.
5/10 – never got boring, never really took off either.
6/10 – not that many, but fairly noisy and hey, it’s a long way just before Christmas, so fair play.
Player ratings as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
ALEXANDER 6 (3/3) had a very quiet afternoon.
WRIGHT 6 (3/3) judged his runs forward well, and was a solid part of a solid back four even when moved to the wrong side; BRUCE 7 (3/4) and DE VOS 7 (3/4) were reliable and in control; SITO obviously still needed to get his missus her Christmas card before the shops closed.
HAYNES 4 (2/2) was a little more involved than in the past two home games, but still a weak link; MILLER 7 (4/3) was unpectactular but in spells, as good as he’s been all season; GARVAN 6 (3/3) kept things moving, the thing he does best; but WALTERS 5 (3/2) was just a fish out of water again on the wrong side, and easily dealt with by the Burnley defence.
LEE 5 (3/2) didn’t have the supply from wide but will still be annoyed for not taking his one great chance (made in part by Haynes, it must be said); and although COUNAGO 6 (4/2) was indefatigable, he hardly created a sniff of a chance.
WILNIS 6 (3/3) filled in reliably in a hastily-rearranged defence after Sito went off. WILLIAMS got less than 20 minutes to make an impact in the “difficult” wide left position, and didn’t really take it. RHODES made a cameo appearance to a great reception, but was never going to have enough time to make an impact.