The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Stoke City 4

Jeez, where to begin? This was nothing short of appalling. Did you hear
Stuart Pearce’s “you should be ashamed to go home and face your families”
rant to his players the other day? Even that wouldn’t have done justice to
the dressing-down Joe should have given our team after this. In the week
when the club expects everyone to be renewing their season tickets, we get
the spectacle of more people making their way home early than I can ever
remember seeing before. If I were Derek Bowden, trying to keep this rabble
going as a business, I’d be a very angry and disappointed man this morning.

This was Stoke City. Stoke Bloody City. An away team with nothing to play
for. A team which hadn’t scored four goals for two years, and whose
supporters can’t remember them having scored four goals away in the last ten
years. Indeed, a team whose supporters were singing, at just one-nil “we’ve
scored a goal, you must be s**t”. And they were right. We were.

I appreciate that we’ve been spoiled. The only one of the last thirteen
seasons when we haven’t had something to play for right to the end was the
relegation from the Premiership. So it’s always going to hurt when the
end-of-season party is a fortnight before Easter. But even if pride in the
shirt isn’t enough to make the players want to go out and play like a
football team, surely a manager as experienced as Royle can instil in them a
sense of needing to continue to prove themselves? If he can’t even do that,
he really has lost it.

So what happened? On paper, the lineup was a pleasant improvement – a second
striker, no less, with Deano being given an unexpected (last?) chance to
prove himself. Chris Casement getting a home debut at right-back. So far, so
good. But right from the start, there was no movement, no urgency, and a
distinct lack of commitment. Only the old guard at the back looked like they
cared. Lee didn’t seem to have it in him to create much of a target (I
assume he’s well below full fitness, because if not, it’s very worrying),
and the midfield soon gave up on trying to find him.

To be fair, Joe made three substitutions early, but the impetus which Haynes
brought to the side only compensated for the what we lost with Garvan going
off and Sito having a shocker. For the rest of the game, it was just pass it
around aimlessly until the ball was lost, which normally wasn’t long, given
Juan and Richards’ new-found inability to control or pass. Then Stoke
realised they could draw us out and breakaway at will, and if the game had
gone on for another 30 minutes they’d have scored another ten. By the end,
those of us who’d bothered to stay let the team know what we thought, but
you really would hope they’d have been disappointed enough to have beaten
themselves up about it.

Match Ratings:
Excitement – 2/5

Town Performance – 1/5

Player Ratings (1-5 for what they put in, 1-5 for what we got out):

SUPPLE 5 (3/2):
Not particularly at fault for the goals, but made a couple of
uncharacteristic mistakes, and wasn’t anywhere near at least two of the
shots which Stoke had that went narrowly wide. On the plus side, his
distribution continues to improve impressively.

CASEMENT 5 (3/2), NAYLOR 6 (4/2), DE VOS 6 (4/2), WILNIS 5 (3/2):
Casement started off a little shakily but regained his composure and looked
decent coming forward. Left too much space at times, but it’s early days,
and it was good to see him getting his chance. I assume he got an injury,
which is why he didn’t come back after the break, otherwise I can only put
his non-reappearance down to Joe’s normal policy of trying to destroy the
confidence of youngsters who dare to make themselves available to his teams.
Naylor and De Vos seemed to be the only inspiration in the team, but they
were left for dead at the end. Fab hardly put in an appearance.

CURRIE 6 (3/3), GARVAN 5 (2/3), JUAN 4 (2/2), RICHARDS 5 (3/2):
An awful midfield display, totally swamped by Stoke’s five men. Jimmy was
consistently poor, both with his movement and passing. Owen quietly went
about his sweeping up, but then totally lost it with a wild challenge in the
second half which might have got him a red card, and was sensibly taken off
straight away before he did his career any more damage. But how we missed
him afterwards – there was nobody (least of all poor old Jim) to fill in
that gaping hole. Matt worked reasonably hard but nothing came off, and once
again neither he nor Darren seemed to want the right midfield spot when they
got their turn.

LEE 5 (2/3), BOWDITCH 5 (3/2):
Alan just didn’t seem up with the pace at all. He was shackled with ease
wherever he went. Deano breezed around looking classy, as ever, yet achieved
very little, as ever. A shame.

Subs – SITO 4 (2/2) was all over the place, and was rightly on the end of
some serious finger-wagging from the centre-backs on more than one occasion.
HAYNES was eager and provided a moving target, but got even less support
than Lee. MAGILTON just wasn’t at the races – I just wish we’d let him go
out at the top, two years ago.

The REF let a little too much go, and missed what looked like a clear
penalty when Haynes was brought down, but kudos to him for sorting out Lee’s
comically inept diving with a few well-chosen words. The CROWD wasn’t
particularly animated – Sheepshanks won’t know how grateful he ought to be
that we’re so placid, but Royle must know better. The problem is, there’s at
least another year left of this past-his-best manager, and who knows how
long we’ve got endure this inept board? They bet the farm on getting us
straight back to the Premiership with their management strategy, it didn’t
work, and four years down the line, the whole period has been wasted.

We’ve still got something to play for here. Since we came up from Division
Three South in the fifties, before I was born, our lowest league position
was 16th in this division (58-59), 15th (65-66) and 14th (90-91). If we
challenge those statistics this season and the board doesn’t find an
alternative strategy (or an alternative to themselves), then they have no

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