The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 0 Chelsea 0

In the Premiership, it’s probably possible to get by on commitment alone,
but you’ve got to do it week in, week out. If we’d played with this amount
of enthusiasm in all or most of our fixtures this season, we’d be as safe as
houses by now. But of course, this afternoon was the exception in that
respect, not the norm, and that’s why we’re in desperate trouble. And the
match also showed why this level of commitment needs to be shown on a far
more sustained basis than it has, because even doing so, we still failed to
get the three points. Bad luck? No, because when it comes down to it, we
barely tested the Chelsea keeper all afternoon. However, just one small
break wouldn’t have gone amiss at the moment…

Burley’s team changes are looking increasingly wild and desperate now, but
to be fair, after each successive horror show, I doubt many people would
disagree that changes need to be made. I was certainly more than happy to
see Miller given a chance and Stewart left on the bench, for example. The
changes alone can’t explain why the team suddenly seemed so driven. But they
had the bit between their teeth all afternoon, almost without exception
(Finidi flounced around like a spare part as usual of course, but the real
midfield three were inspirational). Burley abandoned the wide left midfield
position, and played Peralta that side in a more narrow role, so there was
nobody to get in the way as Hermann lumbered forward, and it worked well.
However, that did mean we got very few crosses in, and perhaps Armstrong
wasn’t the man for the job in that case. Marcus Bent was of course just the
man for the job, but for once he didn’t rise to the occasion.

So where now? If Blackburn draw their game in hand, we’re three points
adrift of the three level-placed teams above us, and to stand any chance
we’re going to have to get a couple of points or more from the horror games
against the top three. Even an unlikely six points from the other two games
won’t be enough now. But there’s nobody else to blame other than ourselves.
We could have been safe by now – we showed it this afternoon.

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

MARSHALL 7 (3/4) had a great game. I’m really uneasy with this “play one of
the keepers until he makes one mistake too many” policy, but if that’s the
plan, Marshall will be between the sticks again next week. Really in control
of his area, and missed hardly anything all afternoon. Held on to one
rasping shot which you just *knew* Sereni would have wildly palmed out to a
following up Hasselbaink.

WILNIS 7 (4/3) continues to impress: I always believed him to be purely a
5-3-2 defender, without the solidity needed in a four-man defence, but he’s
obviously been determined to show he can do this too, and he most certainly
can now. Knew his place, and only once went walkabout and lost his
concentration. And only got skinned by Zola once, which ain’t bad in
anyone’s book. McGREAL 6 (3/3) and VENUS 6 (3/3) kept the lid on things
excellently: I’ve put them together because they’ve been playing the same
game like mirrors of each other lately, something we haven’t seen since the
Veno/Mogga heyday a couple of years back. HREIDARSSON 7 (4/3) was really up
for it again, and covered enormous amounts of ground all afternoon, trying
to be Ryan Giggs at one minute yet making saving blocks at the back just
seconds later.

HOLLAND 7 (4/3) was, as ever, tireless and inspirational. He seemed to
thrive on having another ball-winner alongside him, and didn’t seem to find
it necessary to be everywhere at the same time. Great stuff. MILLER 8 (4/4)
was a revelation. His passing, his tackling and his enthusiasm were all
tremendous, but above all it was his awareness of where everyone around him
was which made his display so exciting. It meant that time and time again he
would ping a first-time pass straight to the feet of someone in more space,
almost without looking. If he can do this consistently he’s going to be a
fixture in the team, make no mistake. PERALTA 6 (3/3) had a very neat game
too, although was a little off the pace occasionally, presumably due to the
fitness problems reported before the match. But worked well with those
around him, and made the left side look a lot more comfortable for us than
it has been of late.

FINIDI 4 (2/2) was yet again a waste of a precious outfield position.
Contributed little in terms of what he was there to do, which was presumably
to create something out of nothing occasionally, or let’s face it just get a
decent cross in. Contributed sod all in terms of anything else. MARCUS BENT
5 (2/3) didn’t have a very good day, and after missing the penalty his head
went down and he never really recovered his confidence. That’s a
disappointing attitude problem at this level. Mind you, his body language as
he went to take the penalty had “no confidence” written all over it. And did
anyone else think he was carrying an injury from the start? ARMSTRONG 5
(3/2) tried gamely but never really looked likely to make a breakthrough. If
you’re raining in crosses all afternoon, you’d want Alun in there. But we
weren’t.

Substitutes: STEWART yet again produced nothing special. At a moment in the
game when we needed someone to give us a real spark again, it was DARREN
BENT who did just that. Asked to play in midfield and run through, he ran
around like a headless chicken to the consternation of Chelsea’s defence,
who didn’t know who was supposed to be picking him up. Reminded me so much
of Kieron’s first few games. Perhaps not a match-winning turn, and it threw
the balance of the team completely on that side, leaving huge holes, but
wonderful to see. CLAPHAM got a brief run-out, but didn’t make much impact.

The REF didn’t let anything go on around the area – I’ve never seen so many
free kicks just outside the box. Neither side made much of them though. With
all four sides of the ground properly inhabited for the first time this
year, the CROWD were tremendous – what a difference a nearly-full North
Stand makes! The atmosphere this season due to the building work must have
lost us a couple of points or more, and they may well turn out to be
crucial. How much has the North Stand cost us in that case?

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