The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 0

A friend summarised this match as “odd” and in many ways, that was true. Plymouth rode their luck, but we were our own worst enemy. Over two dozen attempts on goal, sure, but only one or two required heroics from their keeper or defenders, and the two best saves of the game came from Alexander at the other end. The rest of our opportunities were just wasted. So it was that most unusual of games: one which we dominated but didn’t really deserve to win.

Now we’ve won just one in eight (five of which were at home), and scored only five goals in that time. Counago hasn’t scored in that period, and Alan Lee hasn’t scored for about three months. We’re barely in the top half of the table too. I think you could say that things have cooled a bit. But hey, we’re certainly still in touch with the playoffs, and the automatic spots are only nine points away, so if Jim can pull it all back together, who knows what might happen?

Tonight Jim decided to give Lee another rest, which sorted out the Haynes-or-Walters dilemma on the right, because Walters had to go back into the middle. New boy Alan Quinn was the latest in the series of players to be thrown into the wide left role which nobody seems to be cut out for (or want). Several players had a lot to prove, including Quinn, the recalled Dan Harding, and the place-threatened Miller and Garvan. All four worked quite hard, without setting the place on fire. However, I should put in a word for the central midfielders, who are getting a bit of stick in a few places. We created a lot of chances in this game, and let’s face it, the strikers were poor and the wing play nonexistent. The source of all the happenings up front was a central midfield dominance. Ungainly it may have been at times, but it underpinned the entire performance. Miller might be playing a quiet role, and Garvan’s awkward control might distract from his genuine quality, but these two deserve more credit.

Counago, on the other hand, was nothing short of dreadful. Time after time, when handed an opportunity on a plate, he didn’t seem sharp enough to position himself to do something with it, and his offside count was totally unforgivable. Jon Walters didn’t always seem in sync with the rest of the team, and looked slightly off the pace; by the time the crowd finally got what they wanted for the last 20 minutes (Lee back on in the middle and Walters – hooray! – back out on the right wing), he didn’t seem to have the fitness to make the impact we know he can.

So it’s still all a bit of a muddle, with no real obvious answers. If Jim can straighten it all out (with or without the involvement of new signings) in the next two or three games, then I still think we’re in with a shout at the top. But I also still think the rest of the season may depend on which comes first – the home defeat or the away win.

Overall Town performance:
5/10 – dominant in most areas, but useless where it counted

Opposition quality:
5/10 – quite unmemorable; a real mid-table team

7/10 – kept things going in a game which others might easily have spoiled

Match excitement:
7/10 – frustrating though

Opposition supporters:
7/10 – not that many, but you have to respect anyone who makes a midweek trip that far – they’ll only have got home after the milkman’s been

Player ratings as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…

ALEXANDER 8 (3/5) made a couple of great saves, including yet another penalty stop. The new Paul Cooper?

WRIGHT 8 (4/4) had a really solid game, at both ends of the pitch; BRUCE 6 (3/3) and DE VOS 6 (3/3) occasionally induced moments of panic, but equally made some great interventions, and were generally in control; and HARDING 6 (4/2) seemed to be trying really hard to win his place back. We may never know quite why he fell out of favour so spectacularly last month, but he deserves better. The penalty was unfortunate.

QUINN 5 (3/2) was quite bright, especially for a player who’s only had half a dozen starts this season, but didn’t look too cut out for that position (what’s new?); MILLER 6 (3/3) didn’t appear to do much, but our midfield dominance suggests otherwise; GARVAN 7 (4/3) wasn’t elegant, and made quite a few errors, but that was perhaps more a result of how involved he was; HAYNES 4 (2/2) started reasonably, but then disappeared from the match entirely.

COUNAGO 4 (2/2) had his worst home game since returning to the club, being caught offside quite pathetically time and time again, and totally wasting almost every opportunity which came his way; WALTERS 6 (3/3) was no more than OK – as usual, his attitude looked great, but I wonder if his fitness was as great.

LEE added as much presence in the middle as Walters had done, while allowing Walters to be an effective replacement for the missing-in-action Haynes, but didn’t get much of a chance to make it count; ROBERTS created more opportunities than Quinn had done out wide, but wasted them too (sense a theme here?)

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