Ipswich Town 0 Millwall 3
A dismal end to the season for home fans. We’d wondered during the second half if there’d be anyone left for the players’ lap of appreciation after the game, but with five minutes to go, it looked like there might not be anyone left even to see the end of the match! There really was an impressive exodus from all four stands, and this performance didn’t deserve anything else. Town looked like a lower mid-table side going nowhere, and Millwall were delighted to pick off Town at will, just as other mediocre teams like Doncaster had also done at various points in the season.
Toothless up front, useless on the wings and calamitous in defence, Town offered nothing other than some confident ball-winning in the middle of the park. It was enough to stop the game from becoming embarrassing, but there was little to get the fans excited, and nothing to inspire optimism that next season is going to see a playoff challenge. There are 6-8 players who could form the nucleus of a strong side, but even if the gaps can be plugged, you do wonder if the manager has what it takes.
Overall Town performance:
3/10 – Disappointing in every way.
5/10 – Hard working but no better than their position in the table suggests.
7/10 – Nothing too controversial, and kept things going well. Two penalty decisions both went in Town’s favour. Oh heck, 8/10 then.
4/10 – There were enough chances to keep it from getting boring, but it was just …mediocre.
9/10 – A last-minute equaliser to join Southampton in the away supporters of the season awards. Didn’t stop making noise for a moment.
Player ratings, as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…
LEE-BARRETT 4 (2/2) only had one heartstopping moment, although was lucky to get away with not conceding a penalty. I like the guy and would still be more than happy to see him as the reserve keeper next season, but we do need someone more commanding and less error-prone.
EDWARDS 3 (2/1) showed heart, as ever, but his positional play was abysmal, and he showed exactly why he shouldn’t be let anywhere near a permanent defensive position in a side with playoff ambitions. And he’s not going to get any better, so let’s cut our losses now before it becomes embarrassing, shall we? The progression of SMITH 4 (2/2) is one of the unsung highlights of the season for me, and I really feel that alongside an experienced, confident right-footed centre half, he could mature into a terrific defender, but today he looked a bit panicky, and struggled to cover for Edwards’ walkabouts. DELANEY 5 (2/3) was his normal just-about-adequate self in central defence, but when asked to cover for Cresswell, showed his lack of versatility – I think that if we sign the third centre-back we need this summer, he should be no more than the backup. CRESSWELL 6 (3/3) has been the true star of the season for me, and could be in that position for years, so long as Town progress enough to maintain his interest in continuing to play for us; today, however, was only an average performance.
MURPHY 4 (2/2) looked pedestrian at best, and I wonder if his heart was in it – this didn’t appear to be the performance of a player who wanted to stay at the club, or, quite frankly, deserves to. DRURY 6 (3/3) won plenty of tackles and while he wasn’t quite as influential as Leadbitter, he – as usual – kept trying to move things forward; I’d be more than happy to see him continue in a regular central midfield position next season. LEADBITTER 6 (3/3) got more involved than anyone else in a blue shirt, but failed to make things happen, and Town really need somebody who can add some creativity to this sort of midfield presence, if that’s not asking for too much. EMMANUEL-THOMAS 4 (2/2) just shuffled around and – while he’s an undoubted character – looks more like an impact substitute than anything else; an out-and-out winger he most certainly isn’t, but then we already knew that from Jewell’s most successful (and mystifyingly abandoned) January and February 4-2-3-1 formation.
STEPHENSON 3 (1/2) contributed almost nothing of note, and just doesn’t look fit, which surely can’t be the case after several months at the club, can it? CHOPRA 4 (2/2) had one of his less effective afternoons, and however infuriating that may be, he’s clearly good enough for a team of Town’s aspirations, and we should build around making the most of his undoubted talents next season.
Substitutes: SCOTLAND huffed and puffed as usual, but his strongarmed approach didn’t create a breakthrough this afternoon; SONKO was immaculate in his farewell appearance at Portman Road, and we’ll only ever wonder what might have been; CARSON looked enthusiastic but didn’t seem to offer much threat, sadly.