The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 4 Barnsley 2

What a day. What. A. Day.

My wife (3 years a supporter) and myself (30 years) travelled up to the game
by train from Cambridge with some Barnsley-supporting friends. The feeling
in the Barnsley camp was that they were lucky to be there, and were going to
enjoy it, but the team wasn’t a patch on the one that got promoted 3 years
ago, and would die in the Premiership. They were going to enjoy the day
though, and worry about next season afterwards.

Loads of Town supporters on the train. YES! Went to meet more friends of
theirs arrive on the football special coming into St. Pancras. A sea of red
and white, yet not a single Barnsley supporter had anything to say to us
other than good wishes. It continued right down Wembley Way. Got interviewed
by Sky outside the ground (they didn’t show it, who cares). Found ourselves
with front row seats in the Olympic Gallery overlooking the biggest sea of
blue and white EVER (stattos: has there ever been a bigger Town support at a
game? Not at the Cup Final, where we only had 20-25,000, and not ever at
Portman Road – I was there for the 38,010 crowd, standing on my beercrate,
but I guess there would only have been 30,000 home supporters in that lot).
FANTASTIC. And so, it has to be said, were Barnsley’s supporters. We sang
and sang and sang. Superb to see Rob Chandler there given three minutes to
lead the crowd.

The teams were announced. Venus not Brown. Damn, never mind. McGreal back.
The best news of the afternoon. Scowie out, but wait …Jermaine Wright as
replacement, not Reuser? Odd? Well, no. Without Scowie, the long ball was
out. Keeping it on the deck was essential. Another body, another ball winner
in midfield might be just what the doctor ordered…

Then out they came. WHAT an atmosphere. And they let Scowie join in the
presentation lineup.

Reasonable start: we clearly weren’t going to have one of those days when
the team all seem to be playing different games. Then disaster. Richard was
beaten by Hignett, but it doesn’t come any more unlucky than what followed.
Yet it wasn’t just the euphoria of the occasion, I just *knew* we’d get back
into it. We didn’t have the final penetration as usual, too many attacks
were foundering on Johnno’s poor control, but somehow I knew we’d get back
into it eventually. But not the way it did. When Johnno went, it just all
came together. Partially because Naylor played like a god, but partially
because he forced the team to play the game they’re set up to play, pulling
everything forward and stretching the opposition up the pitch rather than
across it.

Mogga, you have written yourself into Town folklore the way you seem to have
done at Middlesborough and Celtic. What an end to a fairytale season. And
WHAT a bloody brilliant header. Awesome. And *didn’t* he want it!

Then the penalty. Watch the video. It *wasn’t* a penalty, but it was a huge
mistake of Richard to give it away, and you can understand the ref. Watch it
from behind (the ref’s view). Hignett brushes Richard’s arm and comes down.
Penalty. But watch it from the side. Hignett’s already halfway over when he
touches Richard. A clear dive. But the ref couldn’t have seen that. And the
rest of course is history.

We were the better team, but continued to be our own worst enemy,
continually letting Barnsley stay in touch. But after the break, we played
the best football of all, and got rewarded. Naylor on a route-one goal.
Brilliant. Naylor (genius) again with fabulous control, perfect hold-up for
Clapham for a perfect cross and a perfect Stewart finish. Brilliant. My 5-1
prediction was coming home.

Then Burley made a mistake. He risked sitting back on the lead. Holland was
pulled right back on a man-marking job, so Marcus Stewart had to drop back
into midfield, leaving Naylor on his own with the supply-line cut. We just
let them come at us. Mogga was caught as too slow on the turn, another
penalty, and suddenly we were on the ropes. Still we let them come at us.
Why? There were a couple of near misses (thank goodness they’d had Comedy
Bruce Dyer most of the game and not a decent footballer).

Then Richard pulled off *that* save. I really think it was as good as it
looked. Must have put £2M on his value by itself.

Still the fates were with us. Burley did what he should have done as soon as
he went for the containment policy, and put a proper replacement midfielder
on. Suddenly the supply line for Naylor came back, and would you believe it,
by sheer grit he put Reuser through for a repeat of the Bolton goal.

I was almost in tears by this point. The Town were going up.

The rest was a blur. The half-hearted final whistle. Ecstasy. The whole team
going mad. The look on Burley’s face as he went round on the lap of honour.
The rest of them having such a good time. Reuser leading the celebrations.
Does he fancy himself or what? Little Micky Stockwell punching the air and
shaking hands with all the fans. So many images. So many memories.

Didn’t know what to do afterwards. Wandered around in a blur. Another packed
blue and white train home to Cambridge. Walked through town with our shirts
and flags. Everyone was tooting us, stopping to ask what it was like.
Someone even rushed out of their house to show us their baby in an Ipswich
romper suit. And this was in *Cambridge*. Incredible.

I won’t ever forget it.

Some ratings:

Wright 9 – gotta deduct a point for the first pen, otherwise immaculate,
probably his best game of the season.

Croft 7 McGreal 9 Mowbray 9 Venus 7 Clapham 8 – gotta deduct a point from
Mogga too for the second pen, otherwise a towering performance. The
wingbacks never got as involved as I’d have hoped: we were nervous there.
McGreal was simply magnificent. Two or three immaculate tackles, and only
one poor one. After two months out, who could have asked for more?

Holland 8 Magilton 8 Wright 7 – very, very solid midfield performance. We
just picked up everything going loose, and a lot that wasn’t loose too.
Crunching tackles time and time again. Wright’s inclusion made a huge
difference to the whole balance of the game.

Stewart 8 Johnson 6 (Naylor 10) – Johnno seemed to be shaping up for a
committed but ineffective afternoon: all those stop-start runs the midfield
hate, the poor control, etc. What is there that can be said about Naylor’s
performance? Total and utter commitment without the temperament problems of
old. When that animal Geoff Thomas (who was a disgrace) had a hack at him
towards the end, Richard just walked away. On a day of heroes, he was the
biggest of the lot.

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