The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 2 Walsall 1

And it came to the point in the season where, after clinging on grimly to a
2-1 lead over Walsall (every disrespect intended, as Danny Baker would say),
the crowd erupted in relief. Yes, it had come to that. But much more
encouraging all round, and three points on the board; I’m certainly not
complaining!

So 4-4-2 it was once more, with home debuts for Mahon and Bart-Williams,
Naylor unluckily dropped to the bench (I can see why Joe did it, but Richard
must wonder what he has to do to get a regular berth), and Counago joining
him, probably more deservedly. We started very brightly, and kept the tempo
up for much of the game, only really looking up against it when (as usual)
we let the opposition attack us almost at will for ten minutes or so
immediately following both goals.

Other than that, not a huge amount to say about the team performance, it was
a little shapeless at times, and at least three of the defenders had the
frustration of bringing the ball forward on occasions only to see not a
single opening presenting itself ahead of them. The strikers hardly
terrified Walsall, whose keeper made very few saves, but it was a small
improvement over the rubbish we’ve seen so far this season up front, for
which we should be grateful. I do feel that the biggest problem Joe has to
deal with is the millstone around his neck which has been caused by giving
Jim the captain’s armband; not only is he clearly not up to a full 90
minutes, but I’d go as far as to say he’s not worth his place in the side at
all at the moment. Yet who else should be skipper? It’s a difficult one.

Tonight was a reasonable performance against below-average opposition which
marked a small step in the right direction, probably a better thing in many
ways than some startlingly good performance which would more likely have
been a false dawn. Another step in the same direction on Saturday should be
good for another three points, and we can at least then stop panicking.

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

DAVIS 7 (3/4): Not overextended, but did what we all want to see our keeper
do, and then pulled off a world-class save towards the end. Distribution was
once again nice to see after what we’ve had to endure over the last year or
so.

WILNIS 6 (3/3), SANTOS 7 (4/3), DIALLO 6 (3/3), RICHARDS 5 (3/2): Diallo and
Naylor have looked like a competent central pairing, but this looked like it
has the makings of an even better one. It’s easy to see from his manic
death-or-glory defending under siege towards the end how Georges became a
cult hero at Grimsby. Great to watch, and I’d have marked him higher were it
not for a couple of dodgy moments in the first half. Drissa was far quieter
and probably more composed, but the two complemented each other well. Fab
had a fairly ordinary game. Matt struggled rather in his defensive duties,
admittedly with little support from colleagues, although he came forward
brightly enough. When those frailties could have spelt disaster towards the
end, Joe had to bring on Ian Westlake to help him out.

MAHON 6 (3/3), BART-WILLIAMS 7 (4/3), MAGILTON 4 (2/2), WRIGHT 5 (2/3): Our
new midfield, completely-rebuilt since the last home game, looked much
better. Chris B-W played the role which I would guess Joe had always hoped
Georges would have made his own, creating a presence in midfield, getting
stuck in and closing down the opposition all over the place. A very
promising start. Alan M was also keen, and although he perhaps promised more
than he eventually delivered, looks like he could be the creative addition
to the midfield we’re so sorely lacking. Jim was very disappointing,
especially given the extra time and space Chris’s presence made for him. Far
too many poor forward passes, and far too much move-killing backward stuff.
At the moment I really see Jim as the weakest link, and once Tommy Miller’s
fit again, it’ll be a shame to see Jim keeping him or Jermaininho out of the
team. Talking of which, the midfielder who doesn’t seem to endear himself to
the crowd didn’t really make the most of tonight, drifting all around the
place when we really needed some predictability given the number of new
faces. But he’s surely still worth persevering with.

ARMSTRONG 5 (3/2), BENT 6 (4/2): The strikers worked hard but didn’t trouble
Walsall where it mattered enough, although that said, things are looking up.
In particular Daren started to scare the opposition with his speed,
something he hasn’t been doing so far this season, and on several occasions
he gave midfielders (and even defenders) the chance to play an easy ball
into space by making great cross-field runs. Alun had a reasonable game, but
ended up out wide a little too often, so that even if his crosses were
half-decent, the guy we wanted to be on the end of them (him) wasn’t there.

Subs: WESTLAKE came on to shore up the midfield towards the end (Mahon
hadn’t been giving Richards much help all evening) and did an effective job.
COUNAGO had a few minutes too, for Armstrong, enough for him to ponce around
and show why he’d been displaced in the starting lineup by the fairly
ordinary, but more reliable striker he replaced. Got clear one-on-one but,
for at least the fourth time already this season, failed to score. NAYLOR
came on for Magilton right at the end to waste some time.

The REFEREE was OK but way too card-happy, with only Mahon deserving a card
out of the four which were brandished. At least he gave the penalty,
although even then it seemed to be the linesman making the decision.

The CROWD got behind the team quite well; for the first time this season
there weren’t many non-season-ticket supporters, so we got a chance to see
where the season tickets have been bought, and the North Stand was pretty
full, certainly more so than the GK. Walsall brought the smallest army-ette
of supporters we’ll probably see all season (except for this Saturday
against Wimbledon), fewer than 150, but they seemed a decent bunch.

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