Ipswich Town 1 Portsmouth 0
This won’t be the most exciting of reports, as it wasn’t the most noteworthy of games. Town only really got going for a brief period in the second half, and for the rest of the game Portsmouth looked the more likely to produce something …but it sums up the match if you consider that even so, they only troubled Stockdale a couple of times.
I think the danger inherent in Town’s very narrow shape is that everything has to be passed through the middle, and although few fans would object to watching a team which can do that well, it does require consistent movement, concentration and above all creativity from the midfielders. There’s no get-out of spraying balls around to marauding wingers, because there aren’t any. And unfortunately tonight the imagination wasn’t there – the 90 minutes demonstrated how reliant this team is on Jimmy Bullard being at the top of his game.
On the plus side, it was good to see the manager try something different up front in the second half, and indeed, good to see that something different was available in the first place. In the long run, it won’t do Town any harm at all to have won probably undeservedly for once, but it would be disappointing if this was other than a temporary blip. Four home wins in a row then, the first time this has happened for four years. Nobody would complain if the team went on a home streak like 2007 again.
Overall Town performance:
4/10 – Solid, but lacking any sort of a spark.
5/10 – A lot tougher than Town, but ultimately toothless.
2/10 – The only saving grace was that he didn’t give any stupid big decisions, such as red cards or penalties. But otherwise awful, giving one exasperatingly trivial decision after another, to the detriment of the spectacle.
4/10 – Rather boring, to be honest.
5/10 – Average turnout, made a bit of noise, but it was all pretty negative and joyless.
Player ratings, as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
STOCKDALE 6 (3/3) wasn’t tested too much; his command of the area wand handling was good, but his distribution was hesitant and too often rather poor.
EDWARDS 6 (3/3) worked hard; SONKO 5 (3/2) made a few slips but also made sure he was there when needed; COLLINS 6 (3/3) did a good job again, although still without showing that sort of demonstrable command it’s nice to have from at least one of the central defenders; and CRESSWELL 5 (3/2) was up for it, but found himself stretched rather thinly.
BULLARD 4 (2/2) really didn’t produce anything like we know he’s capable of; ANDREWS 6 (3/3) was OK, and popped up in the right place when needed; BOWYER 5 (2/3) was also only OK, failing to impose himself on proceedings; and LEADBITTER 4 (2/2) scurried around but achieved almost nothing of note.
SCOTLAND 5 (3/2) didn’t shirk his responsibilities, but got nothing from the opposing defence; and CHOPRA 4 (2/2) seemed to offer and achieve even less.
ELLINGTON 5 (2/3) had a useful few minutes, but wandered around fairly aimlessly for most of the half. DELANEY was quiet but didn’t make any real mistakes, which was all that was needed; EMMANUEL-THOMAS went on a couple of mazy runs, but as ever, seemed to run out of ideas at the end of them.