The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Leicester City 0

Not a game you’d regret missing, despite having three points to cheer. It
was blummin’ freezing, and Leicester have obviously decided that the best
way to avoid dropping down as fast as the title “Division One” is to, er,
keep it tight at the back. The match was like watching a giant lung; every
time Leicester got the ball, all the players squeezed into a circle about
30m diameter, and every time we won it back, everyone spread out like the
ball had got bird flu or something. Anyway, justice was done, although as
usual we laboured over it, and almost gave away a couple of comedy goals at
the start. You could be reading a report of any home match here, couldn’t

So, we lined up 4-4-2 with our tenth striker of the season making his debut,
and, along with the surprising (but welcome) return of Danny Haynes, it was
something like our 18th different strike partnership. No wonder the top
scorer’s got about two goals or something. Funnily enough, our real problem
at the moment turns out to be in midfield though: we just don’t have anyone
who seems able to fill in the right-hand side position vacated after George,
– I’m sorry, Gavin – Williams’ unexpectedly early end-of-season party. Last
home game, Joe tried Westy (buzz – wrong choice) and this week it was Matt
Richards, who spent most of the game racing across the park to where he
naturally looked more at home, then racing back again with an embarrassed
expression on his face. For sheer mileage, it was a great performance, but
it was a waste of a blossoming left-midfield talent.

In fact, the barely adequate – but only obvious – solution would be for
Dazzling Dazza to play on the right, and indeed he and Matt did seem to swap
for a period in the first half, but whether it was to fox the foxes or
because the two of them were just confused, it didn’t last. Having a
mixed-up midfield probably contributed more to the slightly toothless
performance than having the ponderous Ricardo Fuller in for Alan Lee, and in
the end it was two more notches on the scoreboard for the division’s “Mr
Assist” which proved to be the difference between the teams. If Dazza could
stick 75% of his dead balls on someone’s head instead of 25%, we’d probably
be up with Reading. When he gets it right, they’re beautiful, so I’m not
complaining (well, perhaps I am), but it’s so frustrating how many
free-kicks and corners barely leave the ground for every gem he conjures up.

Anyway, it was good enough. And we probably have enough points for safety
now. I really don’t want us to be the team that steams up the table, scrapes
into the playoffs on the last day and sails into the Premiership. Not this
season, anyway. 2007/2008? By then Supple, Barron, Garvan, Richards, Haynes
and co will be ready to burst onto the national stage. Then we’ll forget
matches like this. Although I may have done already.

Match Ratings:
Excitement – 1/5
Town Performance – 3/5

Player Ratings (1-5 for how much they cared, 1-5 for how well they fared):

(Apologies in advance that these numbers are going to be as nondescript as
the match)

SUPPLE 6 (3/3):
Jim’s programme notes suggested that the outfield players may prefer Shane
between the sticks, which would explain why he seems to be the undisputed
number one now. Threw himself in the path of oncoming Leicester players well
on a couple of occasions, timed one run out of the area immaculately, had
one howler of a clearance and otherwise must have just got very cold.

WILNIS 5 (3/2), DE VOS 6 (3/3), NAYLOR 6 (3/3), BARRON 6 (3/3):
To be fair, the defence didn’t have many opportunities to shine, on the back
foot at least. Jason and Bam-Bam revel in the fact that there’s always a
midfielder there in front of them now (Owen Garvan) to gratefully offload
the ball to, and consequently panic levels in the centre of defence have
subsided considerably. And at the risk of sounding like a write-up of a soap
opera episode, Scott seemed to miss Matt. Aaah.

RICHARDS 6 (3/3), WESTLAKE 5 (3/2), GARVAN 7 (3/4), CURRIE 6 (3/3):
Westy showed small signs of improvement, and got through a game without
getting too frustrated with proceedings, which was one of the afternoon’s
highlights. Owen is fast turning into the new Matty Holland; it seems
impossible not to give him 7 or 8 every week, and the young player of the
year is a shoo-in, even in the face of strong competition. He’s just so
dependable for the whole of every ninety minutes, it’s scary. Matt and
Darren both tried reasonably hard but have had better games.

HAYNES 6 (4/2), FULLER 5 (2/3):
Danny ran his socks off for a while – we’ve come to expect little else – but
failed to get any results before Leicester realised he was far too quick for
them and put three defenders on him. Substituted, probably wisely, before he
ran himself into the ground whilst still recovering from the knock at
Naarij. And Ricardo? Extra point for the goal, but otherwise, strangely
reminiscent of Sam Parkin in those games where everything seemed to be going
too fast for him …except in Parkin’s case, things were moving quite fast,
and in this game, I’m not sure they were. Only really lost his marker once,
which resulted in a free header and a goal. But once again, you have to
wonder if there’s a brain cell in the management of this club; you can
almost forgive them for being surprised that the guy turned out to be
ineligible to play for us (at least not without pleading with the Home
Office first). But signing a player on very short-term loan who’s on four
bookings for the season? It beggars belief. Guess what? He got booked. And
next week we’ll be paying him my ticket money, your ticket money and
probably every other listie’s ticket money to sit in the stands.

Subs – McDONALD was sharp, eager and enthusiastic, and played the Haynes
role as well as Haynes had played it. Good stuff.

The REF was average, and that’ll do me every week. The CROWD was a little
more lively than against Burnley, but it’s hard to make much noise in Marcus
Stewart mittens and puffa jackets.

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