The View From Churchmans

Ipswich Town home match reports from just another season-ticket holder

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 1 Watford 2

Nobody would suggest we’ve been playing well of late, in fact we’ve
quite neatly spent the whole third quarter of the season (since the
Wigan game) playing well below par. However, the results have
continued to come in, and most of us have probably had the feeling
that this really is going to be our season. Even Joe has admitted as
such, sometimes quite harshly (such as describing the point at Preston
as “daylight robbery”).

But with this game the decline continued, and for once the result
didn’t happen regardless. As we go into the last quarter of the
season, we need to hope this marks a low point.

The performance was, quite frankly, rubbish. It was one of those
matches where you probably saw what you wanted to see: the national
radio reporter I heard at 11pm, for example, probably went to see the
champions-elect and wasn’t prepared to let the evidence of his own
eyes get in the way, describing Ipswich as “unlucky” after “dominating
both halves”. Joe too came out with some tosh about “not being worried
because at least we hadn’t played badly”. Twenty thousand supporters
who’d braved the snow would beg to differ. We had no ideas, precious
little workrate, and a singular lack of confidence throughout the
side.

Watford came to stop us playing, sure, but by the hour mark they had
realised they were the better side, and for a large part of the second
half they were happily in control, and couldn’t be accused of being
negative. Joe obviously knew they’d play a solid five-man midfield and
countered that by starting with Jim and Kev, leaving dazzling Dazza
Currie on the bench. Not the buccaneering approach which got us to
where we are in the table, and it was as static as the most
pessimistic of us had feared. Only when Currie came on (but in an
unadventurous like-for-like swap with Westy, rather than for one of
the statues in the middle) did we at last have any width to our game
whatsoever, and look vaguely threatening.

I sat with a “neutral”, a Premiership regular, and he found it
amusingly awful, but it was hard to disagree when he suggested nil-nil
would have flattered both sides. On that performance, never mind
automatic promotion, I’d take the play-offs. But maybe we’ll look back
and say that we needed a result to go against us, and it marked the
low point of the season. I hope so.

Some ratings: (1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement)

DAVIES 6 (3/3): Not much to do, but will have been disappointed to
have conceded two from only about four attempts he had to deal with.
His handling was OK in the conditions, which were either difficult or
else Paul Jones at the other end is a lot poorer a keeper than we’d
thought.

WILNIS 5 (2/3), DE VOS 5 (3/2), NAYLOR 6 (3/3), UNSWORTH 4 (2/2): I
can’t remember a game where Fab was put under so little pressure yet
managed to get forward so infrequently. Competent in defence, but
contributed almost nothing coming forward. Mind you, Unsworth was no
better and made quite a few unforced errors too. The lads in the
middle should shoulder the blame for the goals though.

MILLER 5 (3/2), MAGILTON 4 (2/2), HORLOCK 4 (2/2) WESTLAKE 5 (3/2): We
were completely outnumbered and outplayed across the middle of the
park, with little movement and at times, what seemed like little
effort. I can understand on an icy pitch we’re not likely to see a
succession of crunching, season-ending tackles, but we really didn’t
seem to win much, and Jim was at his “pass without looking” worst. The
long balls over the top created most of our chances, which says it
all.

SCOWCROFT 5 (2/3), BENT 5 (3/2): What a disappointment for those of us
who thought Scowie might be the perfect foil for Dazza. He has a
really strange game, deliberately (and nonchalantly) handballing the
ball twice (and North Standers might tell me possibly a third time)
and getting his fifth booking of the season, meaning he’s out almost
as soon as he’s started. Presumably Deano will start at Wigan, and
maybe Joe can fill the entire bench with left-backs. For the first
half, our main tactic seemed to be “hoof it to Scowie”, but although
he won his fair share, there was nobody around to make much of it.
Dazza’s confidence is shot: he’s putting in enough effort to get a
fair few Air Miles by the end of the season, but with the goal at his
mercy he squandered half a dozen chances, including three sitters.
We’d all love to know the solution here.

Subs: CURRIE made a big difference but by bringing him on for Westy,
it severely restricted anything else which could be done later, so
that when Deano came on for the last 15 minutes, it had to be for Fab,
which simply took Tommy Miller out of the equation. BOWDITCH looked
classy but didn’t achieve too much of substance.

The REFEREE handled things well. The CROWD was a good size again, and
gave some decent support (especially for Darren Bent) considering what
was going on in front of them. It’d have been nice if Watford’s
support had been more sizeable. Mind you, the stay-aways probably
called it right. I was glad to be back home in the warm.

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