Ipswich Town 5 West Ham Utd 1
I’m sure every Town fan is still looking at that score in disbelief. It would have been a tremendous result in any season, but in this one? I know that Town’s goalscoring record is much better than the league position suggests, but five? Against the supposedly tightest defence in the division? Where did that suddenly come from?
It certainly wasn’t from any radical departure in personnel or tactics. Jewell stuck largely to the team which has shown some sustained periods of promise in recent games, and this time they didn’t self-destruct. The combination of an early goal and opponents who gave up at the end (rather than push for the late goals so many others have managed) allowed Town to press forward with confidence for the whole 90 minutes. And that’s been far too rare this season.
A West Ham season ticket holder who I drove to the match with said beforehand that his side was due a spanking, as they’d been getting progressively worse in recent weeks without seeing a corresponding downturn in results. Any time now, he said, someone would expose them. What was needed, it turned out, was a team with 90 minutes of commitment in them. Tonight Town were that side. Even if it had only been 2-1, I think this would have been the most encouraging match of the season. Goodness knows if they can continue this.
Overall Town performance:
9/10 – Showed heart, took their chances and avoided any panic. Nobody could have asked for more.
5/10 – Obviously there’s some class in there, but Allardyce is making them play some horrible football, and I suspect it won’t be just opposing fans who will take some satisfaction if they fail to get promoted this way.
3/10 – Some poor decisions, and an inexplicable one regarding Martin being clearly fouled in the area at the end. Playing for a foul isn’t cheating, nor is it simulation. It’s the defender’s job to avoid him.
8/10 – Didn’t let up.
8/10 – Great turnout, of course, and plenty of self-deprecating chanting. Good for them.
Player ratings, as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
LEE-BARRETT 6 (3/3) started off looking well out of his depth, but grew in confidence and comfortably made up for it with some decent saves in the second half.
EDWARDS 5 (2/3) as usual was caught out of position time and time again, and was calmly rescued by his centre half on more than one occasion; SONKO 7 (4/3) was uncharacteristically composed, and dealt with Cole’s predictable threat with ease; SMITH 7 (4/3) is starting to look like a mature and reliable central defender, who knows his limitations and plays to his strengths; and CRESSWELL 6 (3/3) was solid under pressure, and judged his forays forward well.
MURPHY 6 (3/3) had another decent game, and offered more than just an aerial outlet; DRURY 9 (5/4) put in a tremendous shift, and although the midfield wasn’t totally under Town’s control, it wasn’t for lack of effort; HYAM 9 (5/4) was every bit Drury’s equal, covering every square metre of the midfield, picking up loose balls and winning nearly as many; and EMMANUEL-THOMAS 8 (3/5) had his best game in a Town shirt, setting up one goal, scoring two more (one of which was possibly the finest strike seen here this season) and playing one or two sublime passes.
MARTIN 8 (4/4) was a constant pressure on the opposing defence, and is fast becoming a fan favourite for his application; and CHOPRA 6 (3/3) at least set the ball rolling with his terrific early finish, although a later miss showed why he’s not his old confident self, and he perhaps isn’t the ideal striker in a lone role.
Substitutes: SCOTLAND worked hard and did a good job providing an outlet which allowed Town to take the game to their opponents to the end, something which it was so refreshing to see.