The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 West Ham 2

What a dreadful start to the New Year. At least things should be
looking up from here onwards. Facing opponents who were bigger,
stronger and faster than us was only half of the problem. The other
half was that we played like we’d seen the New Year in with a real
party and stayed for the lock-in.

There’s no excuse. West Ham were pretty decent, but no more so than
Wigan, Reading or even Leeds. We presented them with a comical goal
before some people had even taken their seats, and the defence took
another half an hour to stop panicking, much to the East Enders’
derision and merriment (“Topper the league, yer avin’a larrrf,
topper the league, yer avin’a larrrf…”). But truth be told, the
rest of the side were no better than the defence. There was nothing
on offer in any part of the pitch: almost every single player
simultaneously had a poor game. And when Joe decided not to ring the
changes at half-time, presumably on the assumption that the same
players who’d been so good for the last few weeks couldn’t play like
that for another 45 minutes, he joined them in having a Bad Day At
The Office.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a horror show like (say) Wimbledon
18 months ago, which I still have nightmares about. But it was
deeply worrying that we could lose all the cohesion we’ve been
showing this season, and equally scary that West Ham could make our
defence look so stretched just by having a couple of strong, pacy
strikers. I’m also really concerned that Darren Currie, through no
fault of his own, is having an unbalancing and unsettling effect on
the team. Instead of working the ball through to goal as we’ve been
doing so successfully all season, we’re now suddenly expecting all
the creativity to be provided by this new, and totally different,
source. Everything seems to be geared to getting the ball to him,
with the result that Darren Bent has been marginalised and Shefki’s
really unsure as to where he’s supposed to be. Easy to say in
retrospect, but it just seems to me to have been a change we just
didn’t need to have made.

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

DAVIES 5 (3/2): I haven’t had a chance to see the first goal on
video, and obviously it was up the other end, but I’m going to guess
that the debacle was largely down to Kelvin’s indecision. Played his
part in several other defensive mixups in the first half, until they
finally all calmed down.

WILNIS 6 (3/3), DE VOS 5 (2/3), NAYLOR 6 (3/3), RICHARDS 5 (3/2):
Jason’s strength is normally enough to compensate for his lack of
speed, but not today, where he was repeatedly beaten on both counts.
West Ham’s movement up front pulled the defence all over the park,
and thank heaven that their two fast holding players, Harewood and
Zamora, didn’t have a decent finisher following up behind them.
Bam-Bam was of course the other half of the first goal debacle, but
slowly pulled himself together and had a reasonable second half.
Fab, complete with new Big Hair, did his job and little more. And
I’m not sure what to say about Matt; the Happy Hammer sitting next
to me called him as our best player, and he was certainly our most
involved, but there were some heart-stopping moments as he kept
trying to play his way out of trouble, not always successfully. His
distribution was, as ever, mixed; but to his credit, there were a
number of decent tackles. Not, however, the missed one which
resulted in a time-wasting exercise by West Ham near one of our
corner flags being converted into the second goal.

MILLER 6 (3/3), MAGILTON 4 (2/2), WESTLAKE 5 (2/3), CURRIE 5 (3/2):
The marks make the midfield seem better than it actually was as a
unit. Because it was terrible. Darren certainly made himself
available, but almost nothing came off for him all afternoon: it was
just one wasted cross after another, and he knew it. Jim was the
worst of the bunch though. On the rare occasions he passed in a
forward direction, it was mostly aimless, but far worse was the
frequency with which he turned to pass backwards, unnecessarily, and
still gave the ball away. And I’d like to question his captaincy
too, when Shefki started to have an altercation with one of the West
Ham players over nothing. From just a few feet away, Jim stood and
watched it escalate into what would become a booking for Shefki when
he could easily have stepped in.

KUQI 5 (2/3), BENT 5 (3/2): Both of the strikers were, quite simply,
rubbish. If nothing else, you expect mad commitment from Shefki for
90 minutes, but it was nowhere to be seen this afternoon. And Darren
had yet another quiet game, worryingly.

Sub: BOWDITCH looked lively and was the pick of the three strikers
on show. That’s not saying much though.

The REFEREE was generous (to us) in the first half by keeping his
cards in his pocket when others might not have done, but eventually
he had to get them out. No complaints though really. The CROWD was
big (30,000+) but had little to shout about.

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