Ipswich Town 2 Blackpool 1
This one couldn’t have been any more comfortable if it had been given a pipe and slippers and offered the Parker-Knoll in front of a roaring fire. Apart from the last couple of minutes, of course, when it all went a bit silly. We could – and should – have had several more, against an ordinary team hampered by what seemed like their entire defence excusing themselves with injury during the first half.
The reason we didn’t was, once again, at least partially due to Jim’s strange obsession with filling the squad with right-sided midfield players, the knock-ons of which today were Norris being totally wasted on the right wing, Haynes being totally wasted on the left, Harding having to play in a more withdrawn role, and Quinn and Garvan having to sit on the bench. It doesn’t matter how assertive the two big men in the middle are if there’s nobody able to get to the by-line, and very little chance of a decent cross coming in all afternoon.
But the positives outweighed the negatives, with some fine possession and passing. Most of our best chances came at the end of slow buildups and it was great to see. Suddenly we look like a really solid outfit which can control a game and wait for the opportunities to arise. When was the last time we had the strength in depth to have four regular first-teamers on the bench? I’d swap that for a wide left midfielder though, just so everyone else could play where they’re supposed to.
Overall Town performance:
7/10 – mature.
4/10 – average.
3/10 – very little to do, then a moment of madness at the end which I’m sure we’ll all be studying intently on the telly tomorrow. Strictly speaking, he played it by the book. But what ref, when all the players have stopped (despite the whistle not having gone), just stands there like a lemon instead of demonstrably waving play on?
6/10 – plenty of chances, but a little one sided.
7/10 – a fair turnout considering the distance, although more noisy than entertaining.
Player ratings as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
BYWATER 6 (3/3) won’t get many quieter afternoons than this, without a save to make. One dire miskick again though, and he seemed determined never to throw the ball to a visibly irritated Harding.
BRUCE 6 (3/3) did a solid job, although I’m not sure why he’s keeping Wright out of the right-back position; NAYLOR 6 (3/3) had a very undemanding ninety minutes; DE VOS 7 (4/3) was very commanding; and HARDING 6 (3/3) concentrated on the job and gave little cause for concern.
NORRIS 5 (3/2) was a virtual spectator, hardly getting a touch for several periods – we all want to see what he can do, and it’s criminal to see him stuck out wide (compare his contribution to Walters in the same position); MILLER 8 (4/4) had a fine game, despite still awaiting his shooting boots to be sent down from Sunderland – at times his contribution was very reminiscent of the one Garvan has been making alongside him; SUMULIKOSKI 8 (4/4) imposed himself progressively more on the game as it went on, kept things moving sweetly, and looks a great addition to the squad; but HAYNES 5 (2/3) had little impact, made too many mistakes, and didn’t seem to have any real confidence.
LEE 7 (4/3) worked hard throughout, and deserved some reward (he must hate that crossbar now); and WALTERS 7 (3/4) really imposed himself on the game too in a more static role, even though he looked most dangerous when running in from slightly wider.
COUNAGO probably should have got a chance earlier (I’d have taken Haynes or Norris off at half-time, and put Walters out wide) because we were really lacking someone in the six-yard box for most of the game. Neither he nor QUINN really made too much impact though.