The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 WBA 0

After one of the most dispiriting weekends in the club’s history, I really can’t explain what convinced me to drive halfway across East Anglia in the snow for what would surely be a comfortable away win by a team which was comfortably better than Ipswich even last year, before its Premier League elevation. Why do we do it? As John Cleese once said: “It’s not the despair that I hate, I can cope with that; it’s the hope that gets you”.

Certainly it had got to a lot of people; the crowd was below 12,000 for only the sixth time in the last ten years, and all the other occasions had been against lower-league opposition in early cup rounds, not a top-flight side in the quarter-finals. The weekend, the cost and the weather all conspired to produce acres of empty seating. If that wasn’t dispiriting enough, the decimation of Town’s defence by injuries and suspensions only really hit home when you saw the teams line up. How on earth was Troy Brown, with only the inexperienced Tommy Smith alongside him, going to cope?

The answer was with a belief and confidence which flowed through the team from the kickoff. I have no idea where it came from; I just hope it was from the manager, and not just some inexplicable event. It should be noted that however well Town played, West Brom were shockingly complacent and seemingly uninterested, but I don’t think it was the opposition’s performance which inspired the home team. If you only saw the highlights on the TV, trust me, Town were much more dominant than those clips showed.

Where to now? For a start, Keane surely must start with the bulk of this lineup in the next league match, however makeshift it was. The team played their hearts out in a way we haven’t seen for a long time, and none of them deserve to be replaced by players who had any part in the weekend’s shameful performance. And Keane also needs to find out what inspired them to play with such belief, and administer it every week. Chelsea and Arsenal within a few days of each other in January? Sure, we won’t win them. But bring it on.

Overall Town performance:
8/10 – Really should have had four or five goals, and I’m being mean and deducting a point just because so many chances were missed.

Opposition quality:
4/10 – Always had that air – individually – of being able to do something special, but never really put that into action, and were simply a mess collectively.

4/10 – Missed two first-half penalties, and knew it, which is why Town got the benefit of the doubt with the one which was finally given.

Match excitement:
8/10 – Even the sub-zero temperatures couldn’t spoil this one.

Opposition supporters:
6/10 – Pretty quiet, and understandably very grumpy, but an 1,100 turnout on a night like this was quite exceptional.

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

MURPHY 7 (4/3) never lost his concentration and was an integral part of the successful defence, despite a couple of dodgy moments;

PETERS 9 (5/4) was tenacious in defence and relentless in his application, getting forward frequently and to great effect, and working particularly well with Edwards in the second half; BROWN 7 (4/3) put his heart and soul into things; SMITH 8 (4/4) was as solid as a rock; and O’DEA 7 (4/3) rarely got into any trouble.

TOWNSEND 8 (4/4) looked classier than anything the Premier League side had to offer; LEADBITTER 7 (4/3) put in an inspirational performance; NORRIS 8 (5/3) had an absolute non-stop ninety minutes; and LAMBE 6 (3/3) played his part and wasn’t overwhelmed by the occasion.

PRISKIN 7 (3/4) once again made a real impression on the game from first minute to last, but I have to dock a point for his habitual and unforgivable straying offside, which let things down on half a dozen occasions; SCOTLAND 6 (4/2) also worked hard to make things happen, without really doing what he’s there to do.

EDWARDS 7 (4/3) put in a decent shift, and of course made the crucial run which led to the penalty; and O’CONNOR was full of running, and made one great saving tackle. HEALY got just a couple of minutes.

  1. Itfcoyb

    Another good report. Do we dare hope that this team can move forward from this performance? Are the playoffs a realistic possibility this season? Do we dare dream that the confidence and passing of last night is a fairer representation of the manager’s style than the rubbish we have been watching this season?

    Come on you blues!

    Bring on the semis.


  2. Mt

    Excellent summary of last night, which proved why fans should be loyal. Because we never, ever know where the next performance is going to come from. Last night was the best night at Portman Road since Inter in 2001. Those who missed it should be reminded that supporting a team is just that, through thick and thin.

  3. Ally

    Hats off to you for making the effort to get there – glad you were rewarded suitably!

    Can’t wait for January and for us to take on those more “fashionable teams” (God I hate that term).

    Can’t wait to embarrass all my Arsenal/Chelsea ‘supporting’ friends from uni. Underdogs always win after all. Probably.

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