Ipswich Town 1 Preston NE 2
Stanway TractorBoy Snr writes:
With last season producing one of the best home records in our history, several new signings, lots of pre-season wins, a new owner, and a goal up within 2 minutes, this was going to be a stroll in the park. Wasn’t it? Hmm, perhaps not.
In the first ten minutes, we created several good chances, Garvan was bossing the midfield, Lisbie and Haynes were making mazy runs that had the PNE defenders shouting at each other, and all seemed rosy in the FPR camp. Then suddenly, for no real reason, we forgot how to pass and got pushed off the ball so easily it was as if we were playing Portsmouth or Bolton. Paul McKenna, the Preston Captain, then took over the game, and spent the next 75 minutes holding a master-class in how to control midfield with pace, muscle and no shortage of skill. And this included an excellently executed pile-driver from 25 yards that Wright never got near, although our defence gave him so much time it was almost embarrassing.
We huffed and puffed in the second half without getting in too many shots on goal, and even had to wait 63 minutes for the games first corner. Preston had come to upset our passing game with a five-man midfield and the obnoxious Mellor up front on his own – and they won’t be the last team to do it this season.
Concern must be, so soon in to the season, that we seem to lack a plan B, which has been a common problem for several seasons now. Sure, with 5 new recruits playing all at once, it is perhaps foolish to expect that the team will gel right from day 1. Several of the new players had good games, especially Tommy Smith, who at times reminded me of a certain cult ITFC hero of yesteryear, driving forward from central defence with a cultured left-foot that shouldn’t belong to a central defender. Lets hope the lad gets the chance to secure his place in the team for a long time. He has a lot to learn, as does Balkestein. But you can’t put a team together overnight, and only time will tell whether the new-look Town will mature into a promotion chasing outfit.
Overall Town performance:
6/10 – probably scored too early and thought things would be easy.
6/10 – they will win games through effort rather than quality, but their fans won’t care about that.
5/10 – decidedly average and should have sent Mellor off for a blatant punch on Balkestein when they were both on the ground.
5/10 – bit of a let-down for a season opener
6/10 – pretty low in numbers and devoid of anything original – but fairly loud, nevertheless.
Player ratings as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement:
WRIGHT 6 (3/3) didn’t really have a great deal to do, although showed how bad our previous keepers’ distribution was. I suspect that he will be happier once he has played with his centre-backs a few more times. Didn”t have a chance with the first goal and let down badly by his defence for the 2nd, by the looks of it.
WRIGHT 6 (3/3) did a reasonable job but clearly missed having Walters in front of him, as Haynes’s work rate just doesn’t compare. MCAULEY 5 (3/2) is no DeVos in the air and needs to improve on his distribution big style, whereas SMITH 7 (4/3), after an understandably nervous start, looked assured on the ball, has a quality left foot and is tough in the tackle for someone so young. Sure, he needs to learn about positioning, as does BALKESTEIN 6 (3/3), but this will only come if we give them a chance in the first team. They both fell asleep for PNE’s second goal, which showed up an otherwise solid performance, and will have to learn fast when up against the likes of Ebanks-Blake in two weeks time.
QUINN 4 (2/2) was poor and doesn’t have the guile, speed or skill to get past fullbacks. This is still clearly a problem area for Magilton and needs sorting out soon. HAYNES 5 (2/3) started off brightly and set up Lisbie for the first goal, but went AWOL for the rest of the match. If he is going to make an impact, he has to demand the ball rather than expect it. GARVAN 6 (3/3) and SHUMI 5 (3/2) looked good at the beginning but then got muscled out of it by McKenna and his side-kicks. Once they realised they won’t going to get any space, their heads went down and we lost shape. MILLER 6 (3/3) came on for Quinn at half-time and showed greater effort and skill, but is not in his best position on the right, as Haynes switched to the left for the 2nd half.
COUNAGO 6 (3/3) started brightly, faded after about 20 minutes, and then came to life after about an hour….only to be substituted. Weird!, as he started to twist the PNE defence all over the place and may have been the player we needed to unlock things in the last 20 minutes or so. LISBIE 7 (4/3) started like a train, scored after 90 seconds, had two or three good opportunities, and showed some promising signs for the future. However, he picked up a slight hamstring injury when he slipped on the wet turf and I suspect that slowed him down a bit, even though he played the full game. LEE and RHODES came on for Counago and Haynes late on but had little impact, although without any width. Lee was never going to get any decent aerial service.
A disappointing start to the campaign and no doubt frustrated most of the Town fans. However, we must remember that this is a team that contains an almost brand new defence – so it may take time to bed in. But there were some good signs from Smith, Balkestein and Lisbie, so hopefully they can start to work better as a team over the next few weeks. Jim must keep faith in the two youngsters in defence now that he has started with them, otherwise it will damage their confidence.