The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 5 Sunderland 0

I bet Brian didn’t get too many correct entries in the prediction
competition today. An extraordinary scoreline largely due to an
extraordinary half-hour when we couldn’t seemingly do anything wrong. It’d
be going a bit far to say I felt sorry for Sunderland, but it really wasn’t
their day. Couple their luck (or lack of it) with an atrocious defence, and
you have the proverbial drubbing. And how good does it feel?

No radical changes from Burley, the 4-4-2 with Gaardsoe slotting in nicely
in the Bramble/McGreal position, and Jim back in midfield. Otherwise it was
as-you-were, with the addition of a twelfth man in the shape of Ivor
Wholelotmoreconfidence. Whilst five flattered us (the first half was worth
perhaps a two goal lead, and the second half saw Sunderland attack more than
we did), we were certainly good, and easily worth a comfortable victory.
Only 7 goal attempts in the first 45 minutes, but we made four count, and
had Armstrong not missed two one-on-ones we’d have made 6 out of 7 count!

I’ve commented here before that the one thing I’d like to see above all
others (and which might turn our season around) is the old Jim Magilton
back, and today we got it. He might not have been our best player, but I
really think he made the difference, because Holland and Magilton were able
to control the midfield in a way we’ve only been able to manage recently
with three central midfield players. Crucially this gives us the extra man
elsewhere. In addition, everyone was really positive (even Jim), and both
Armstrong and Bent were making runs which gave the midfield pair (as well as
everyone else) decent targets.

It was hardly surprising that Sunderland came out in the second half with
rockets up their backsides (except for the three players left under a mound
of crockery in the dressing room), but our response was a little
disappointing, with most of our shape going by the wayside. But we muddled
through, with some good work by all four defenders, and sneaked a goal at
the end which really did take the mickey.

Happy New Year! Well, you never know…

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

SERENI 5 (2/3) made a couple of fair stops but flapped and punched far too
often for most people’s liking. Again. The jury’s still out.

MAKIN 7 (4/3) was once more very solid, and didn’t rise to the baiting of
the Sunderland fans, although a vicious assault by Arca later on was enough
to try the patience of a saint, and we can forgive Chris a booking. GAARDSOE
6 (3/3) looked very useful, and was one of the highlights of the day. I’d
certainly leave him in the lineup ahead of Bramble and McGreal to see if he
can continue in this vein. Very cool under pressure, and lovely distribution
which made it easy for the recipient to play on. VENUS 7 (3/4) had a
terrific game, looking completely in control all afternoon (and bear in mind
this was against Phillips and Quinn). HREIDARSSON 6 (3/3) also put in a
reliable performance to complete the set across the back.

FINIDI 8 (4/4) is starting to show his true colours after the Derby game
(which raised our expectations unrealistically) and the subsequent abysmal
performances (which irritated us in equal measure). Perhaps we should write
off his first few months and treat this as the true player. If he’d started
like this, and gone on like it, we’d have been pleased with the signing and
much less likely to make the stereotyped criticism most of us have been
guilty of. So he spends far too long being anonymous; what winger doesn’t?
When he gets involved, it’s really effective (and surprisingly
unspectacularly so, as a rule), and his support for the rest of the midfield
(and the defender behind him) was well above what you’d expect from a
run-of-the-mill winger. MAGILTON 7 (4/3) was positive, influential, and a
different man from the one we’ve seen these last few months. It was
tremendous to see. HOLLAND 9 (5/4) was even better and my man of the match
for the second time in a week. Always getting stuck in, his influence on
this game was enormous. I was puzzled afterwards by a comment from Burley on
Radio Suffolk though. When the interviewer said “That was surely Matt
Holland’s best performance of the season”, Burley replied: “Well, you always
get 100% from Matt, even if he isn’t technically as good a footballer as Jim
Magilton or Sixto Peralta”. Excuse me? What a strange thing to say. REUSER
5 (3/2) was probably the disappointment of the day, rarely making much
happen, although his support for Hreidarsson (tracking back behind him when
the Puffin-bloke went wandering off down the wing) was much better than I
can ever remember.

BENT 6 (3/3) worked hard and you get the impression he could develop into a
very impressive signing. Not quite on the same wavelength as many of his
team-mates (yet), but a big handful for the opposing defence with his speed
and power. ARMSTRONG 7 (4/3) was everywhere in the first half, and although
Sunderland’s defence was poor, I can’t remember the last time one of our
strikers was winning *everything* which came his way. When he went
one-on-one with a defender to meet a long ball, you just knew he would win
it every time. And he did. Shame about the misses.

Subs: NAYLOR worked hard as usual, without achieving much. Anyone else
notice the extended acknowledgement he gave the North Stand at the end of
the match? I wonder what that means? WRIGHT and CLAPHAM did OK.

Graham POLL made his usual ridiculously inconsistent set of decisions, but
at least he kept his random card production to a minimum (I was at Highbury
for the Newcastle match the other week, when he sent off Parlour and Bellamy
almost for no reason, and it was just about the worst refereeing performance
I can remember).

The CROWD were on form and quite funny in the second half (“how wide do you
want the goal?” to our own players!). And we all went home with a spring in
our step. Only 10 points off seventh place now.

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