Ipswich Town 1 Middlesbrough 1
They always do this to us, don’t they? Whenever a season comes to a premature end, with mid-table mediocrity the only feasible outcome, we turn up expecting to see the manager start working on what he’s hoping to start next season with …and always end up disappointed. It’s fair to say that the vast majority of the home supporters would have liked to have seen players such as Hyam, Drury, Carson and Stevenson get a decent amount of time to show what they can do in this game, but instead, and to nobody’s delight, we got Lee Bowyer. I honestly think Paul Jewell would have gone back to 4-4-2 if he thought he could get away with it, such is his obstinacy in trying to prove that the successful sequence of games in January and February (which supporters seem to think was down to a selection that was forced on him) was some sort of fluke. Town looked tired and devoid of a spark tonight, and even Jewell admitted as such afterwards. Curiously, I think the unimaginative performance was due in some part to the man of the match, Grant Leadbitter, who was required to be the hub of all the positive movement, and yet whose instinct is far too cautious for that role. It was a scrappy game, and as it’s over a year now since the boredom of the Roy Keane era, it’s probably about time for us to stop thinking “well, we’ve seen worse”.
Overall Town performance:
4/10 – Kept the ball well enough at times, but lacked any sort of edge.
6/10 – Know what they have to do to make the playoffs, and came for a draw accordingly.
4/10 – A series of baffling decisions can’t be excused because they were in Town’s favour.
4/10 – A great goal, a comedy miss by Boro, and that was about it.
7/10 – Not bad for a Tuesday night and a long way home, and we could hear them throughout.
Some rather boring player ratings, as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
McCARTHY 6 (3/3) was fine, but didn’t have much to do, to be honest.
EDWARDS 5 (3/2) was lucky to only have been put under real pressure for about 10 minutes, at the start of the second half, when he looked shaky, but otherwise OK; SMITH 6 (3/3) had a solid game, and with his post match acknowledgements to the crowd, is rapidly becoming a real favourite; DELANEY 6 (3/3) didn’t take many risks, and had a fair evening; and CRESSWELL 6 (3/3) worked hard as usual.
MURPHY 5 (3/2) had another quiet game, failing to get involved much; BOWYER 5 (3/2) didn’t seem to make anything happen; LEADBITTER 8 (4/4) can hardly be faulted, but as mentioned above, is being give a responsibility which might not be the one he’s best suited for; and EMMANUEL-THOMAS 4 (2/2) looked like his mind was elsewhere for much of the game, although his bizarre 50m run to make a saving tackle was an extraordinary moment.
MARTIN 5 (3/2) was disappointing; and CHOPRA 5 (3/2) also made little impact.
Substitutes: DRURY looked lively, and SCOTLAND was excellent.