The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 1 Tranmere 0

There is a God (the sort that decides the outcomes of games that is, I
don’t mean Micky Stockwell). We “lost” the first half convincingly
against a well-organised team who dominated the midfield, and although we
held our own in the second half, it was debatable if we were the better
side. Back to 5-3-2 at the start after Tuesday night’s 4-4-2 shenanigans,
with Petta given a roving brief in midfield as a replacement for Dyer – a
fairly obvious development which I think most people were happy to see.
But it was hopeless. Tranmere concentrated on the centre of the park,
where Holland and Magilton were hopelessly outnumbered, and although the
defence was solid, it was just a continuous stream of clearances from us
followed by yet another Tranmere attack. Fortunately their finishing was
poor, and the defence was outstanding, so they didn’t actually have as
many clear chances as they might have expected.
Once again, it was decided the solution (after about 35 minutes) was to
change to 4-4-2, but not the version where Wilnis goes forward and the
remaining defenders move to the right, but one where Clapham gets moved
forward, and the defenders go left, so Venus becomes left back (which is
OK) but Thetis is the second centre half (which is not OK). Breaking up
the fantastic Venus/Mowbray partnership is just silly, and Thetis is
clearly better out wider. Anyway, by this stage Petta was not having a
good game, his confidence was draining visibly, and so we were
effectively changing from 5-2-2 to 4-3-2. The defence was not comfortable
(Thetis nearly gifted them a goal with a real howler under pressure) and
we were all relieved to see half-time.
No changes for the second half, but as Petta went from “uninvolved” to
“awful”, and with the North Stand bringing the house down with “One Micky
Stockwell” chants, we got the obvious substitution. At the same time,
Wilnis was encouraged to go forward, pushing Stockwell right up, and we
were almost playing 3-4-3. This turned out to be much better. Thetis
might have been left very exposed and almost playing right-back, but
however ungainly (and frightening, both for Tranmere players and Ipswich
supporters alike), he was well up to the task, making several glorious
saving tackles.
We also got Scowie back.

And what a difference. I suddenly realised what he does which the other
strikers can’t – and that’s make something of the endlessly difficult
balls our midfield supply. Naylor has decided the least disastrous way of
handling them is to chest it down and hope the opposition aren’t to close
to mop up. It sometimes works. Johnson just lets the balls bounce off
him, usually to about 50 yards away. It almost never works. Scowcroft can
actually do something with these passes though (I haven’t worked out how
he does it yet). And it makes a difference!
Nobody expected Scowie to do much more than irritate the opposition, but
he got much more stuck in than we had dared to hope. He was clearly aware
of his limitations though, and we can expect better.
Scowie’s presence and Stockwell’s running took the game to Tranmere and
by the last 15 minutes we were at last looking the better side, although
hardly Premiership contenders. Nice to see us back to penalty-missing
ways too! Not a bad kick from Veno, but the keeper was lucky to guess it
right.
The goal – soon after – was made by Scowie, who headed back a
partially-cleared corner well, and although the ball was heading for the
keeper, Thetis was aware enough to stick out a leg and divert it wide of
him. Thetis was *soooooo* delighted, and the rest of the team seemed as
pleased for him as for the extra two points it was about to give us. He
really seems to be popular amongst the rest of them.
The usual end-of-game scares followed (of course) but we were a little
better than the previous three games at putting our foot on it. That was
at least encouraging.

Some ratings:
Wright 8 (one awesome save, again)
Wilnis 6 Thetis 7 Mowbray 8 Venus 7 Clapham 6
Magilton 7 Holland 8 Petta 5 (Stockwell 7)
Naylor 6 (Scowcroft 7) Johnson 6

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