The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Swansea City 3

A Sky broadcast, cold weather and a daft kickoff time were always going to result in a small crowd. But today’s capitulation was watched by the smallest league crowd at Portman Road since December 1999, and the occasionals who instead went Christmas shopping probably got back home less stressed than those who ventured out for some football-related entertainment.

Early last season, soon after Roy Keane took over, Town shipped 11 goals in four league games for the first time at this level since George Burley’s first full season in 1996. Now the team’s done it again, but this time without the excuse of a team just finding its feet with a new manager. Even Joe Royle’s carefree approach to defending never hit this level. How did it happen? Well of course, it didn’t help having two 20-year-olds in the centre of defence, but they weren’t that bad. If the team spirit can take credit for the Carling Cup win on Wednesday, then a lack of it was more than a contributory factor today. At 1-0 up, and probably deservedly so, things inexplicably started to fall apart, and just got worse. Maybe some inspiration from the likes of McAuley and Norris could have stopped the rot, but you have to feel that what little confidence there is in the squad is far too brittle.

Swansea are clearly a better team than Ipswich at the moment, but knowing that, their plan to kill the first half (and possibly longer?) and then try to get a result in what was left of the game was odd, if effective. The moment Town scored, the visitors were forced to fast-forward and start playing football, and quickly started to dominate. On that basis, you have to wonder how much heavier the defeat might have been if Town had scored in the 1st minute rather than the 51st.

This wasn’t a terrible display from Town though, by any means. Swansea’s keeper pulled off two blinding saves, and there were plenty of chances squandered. But in the end, a lack of maturity proved the home team’s undoing.

(A couple more depressing, but telling, stats: that’s five league defeats in a row now for Town, for the first time in this division since 1988, which may not seem that long ago to old fogies like me, but was before many of the supporters there today were even born. And perhaps worse, that’s 9 league defeats in 12 matches now, for only the second time at this level in the last 50 years. Even I wasn’t around then.)

Overall Town performance:
5/10 – Uninspiring for the first hour, although with occasional flashes to lift the crowd’s spirits; but there proved to be no response once the opposition upped its game.

Opposition quality:
6/10 – Strange but effective tactics; looked by far the better team once they decided to play.

2/10 – Just as you began to think “Is D’Urso actually going to get through a whole game at Portman Road without making the crowd want to throttle him?”, he goes and ignores a penalty claim that even the opposition admitted should have been given. I detest this man.

Match excitement:
5/10 – Dismal first half, mainly due to Swansea’s tactic of using their superiority to kill the game dead. Second half more interesting.

Opposition supporters:
6/10 – There might have been fewer than 200 of them, but for travelling over 200 miles in these conditions for a lunchtime kickoff, when they could have watched it down their local, deserves big respect.

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

MURPHY 4 (2/2) was at fault for at least one of the goals, and kept launching long clearances when it was clear there was nobody ready for them.

ZUIVERLOON 5 (2/3) looked no more than an average full-back defending, and didn’t provide much going forward; BROWN 6 (3/3) had another promising performance; SMITH 6 (3/3) was generally fine, with the glaring exception of the second goal, but I honestly think he just miscontrolled it and wasn’t trying to dribble his way out of trouble as most people thought; and O’DEA 5 (3/2) was just unremarkable.

TOWNSEND 6 (3/3) had a pretty decent game, although it would have been nice to have seen even more involvement; LEADBITTER 7 (4/3) seemed to care more than anyone, and was getting visibly frustrated with what was going on towards the end; COLBACK 6 (3/3) was quiet; and EDWARDS 5 (3/2) also failed to make any consistent impact, although you do feel that if Town are to score at the moment, it’s usually going to come through him.

PRISKIN 5 (2/3) had some presence, and manufactured several decent chances, but you never felt he was going to get his name on the scoresheet, and some of his movement was lazy; SCOTLAND 4 (2/2) was clumsy, and didn’t even redeem himself with the goal that fate would surely have decreed he score.

FALLON offered very little, and I find it hard to believe his two month stay will be a memorable one; O’CONNOR made very little impact; and PETERS just didn’t have the time to do anything, although he tried.

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