Ipswich Town 3 Norwich City 2
I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be so elated as a Town supporter. What a fantastic day (and I don’t mean the weather). I simply floated home.
When you think about it, this was just a narrow home win against a poor bottom-three side. Big deal. Of course, it was a lot, lot more than that, but the reason was not entirely because it was a derby game. It was because Town actually showed spirit and commitment. In a week when there’s been some discussion about how the fans simply haven’t warmed to any of these players, this was a chance for them to show if they care about us. And the answer was yes, it would seem that they do. The noise from the home support was tremendous, and the response equal to it in every way.
As one of those who’d given up on most of the current squad, when looking at the teamsheet, my disappointment that Connor Wickham hadn’t made it was tempered by seeing the almost-forgotten name of Jaime Peters on the bench. I actually felt quite optimistic as the game kicked off, and Town started fairly brightly. After seven successive Ipswich vs Norwich matches where the opposition had been the first to score, perhaps for once Town would actually not make it harder for themselves.
Wrong. Town were certainly showing the required level of commitment, but when Thatcher went over the top with a silly push, Norwich floated in a free-kick and the defence stood and watched the traditional opener. The crowd were deflated, but this time, neither they nor the team let it get to them. Within ten minutes Alan Quinn, who exemplified the commitment being shown, got on the end of a great move, and the rest is history.
With no defenders available other than the four in the starting XI, it was almost inevitable that one would get crocked early on, and so it came to pass; what was much more surprising was that a diminutive right-winger was chosen to fill in as left back. But Jamie Peters (with some sterling support from David Norris) more than played his part in the second half. Having a left-back who went on mazy runs into the opposition’s box and then found himself way out of position was a little scary on occasions, but on derby day nobody really cared.
Delia Smith, Stephen Fry, Alan Partridge …your boys took a hell of a beating! And it feels great.
Overall Town performance:
8/10 – It would be absurd to criticise anything really
4/10 – Very poor, and didn’t seem motivated at all, but maybe that’s what you get from loan players in a derby
6/10 – Kept a lid on things well, but when he did reveal the yellow card it was inconsistent
10/10 – Five goals in a derby? That’ll do me.
7/10 – Kept going to the end, but it must have been increasingly dispiriting seeing your team failing to rise to the occasion
Player ratings, as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
WRIGHT 7 (4/3) did what he needed to, but you really felt that it was Ben Thatcher who was the real motivator (and therefore doing the captain’s job) today.
BRUCE 6 (3/3) was reliable but quiet; CAMPO 5 (3/2) gave us some scary moments again, but kept cool, as you’d expect; BALKESTEIN 6 (3/3) did a fine job; and although THATCHER exemplified the spirit of the side, you kept wondering if he was going to do something silly (and perhaps going in for the tackle which saw him taken off may have been just that).
DOS SANTOS 7 (3/4) worked much harder than earlier games, and showed on several occasions that he was the most skilful player on view, without really providing the ultimate cutting edge; SHUMULIKOSKI 7 (4/3) put in a committed and effective performance; QUINN 8 (4/4) had what must surely have been his best game in a blue shirt, particularly in the first half, making acres of space and getting involved in everything – the only black mark was the silly push for the penalty; and NORRIS 8 (5/3) put in plenty of effort while even more impressively nursing Peters through the second half, covering for him quite brilliantly when required.
COUNAGO 7 (3/4) had one of those games where he decided to make things happen instead of whinge, and it was just great to see – he just did the simple things, and did them well; LISBIE 7 (4/3) ran his socks off, although with Pablo doing so well as a playmaker, we needed Kev to be the finisher, and he just doesn’t seem to be that man.
From the bench, PETERS 8 (4/4) was a revelation, despite being dumped in the middle of a derby game into a position diagonally opposite from his usual one. He bombed forward time and time again, and created havoc in the Norwich defence, although we should perhaps be a little grateful he wasn’t put under more pressure defensively. HAYNES really had very little involvement in his 15 minutes, and STEAD didn’t have that much more, mainly being asked to hold up some long balls. Hysterically, he was voted man of the match by Heart FM’s listeners.