The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 Stoke City 1

So the second half of the season starts just as the first half did, with a
disappointing home defeat illustrating just how much work Jim still has in
front of him. We can’t afford to lose another ten in this half of the
season, or that would be relegation form. So where do we stand? What’s the
half-term report? Jim apparently had a full squad to pick from today, and
half of his team are his own signings, so it’s all down to him now.

On the plus side, the midfield is looking good: there’s a balance of youth
and experience, doggedness and flair, and for most of the game today our
midfield ran the show completely. They’ve not played together much, so
should improve further, and overall you’d have to be impressed.

The forward line is nothing like the finished article though. Alan Lee is
having a poor patch, there’s a loanee who we’ll surely be happy to wave
goodbye to, and two youngsters whose skills we don’t seem to be able to make
the most of. It’s all a bit of a mess. But worst of all is the defence,
which if anything has gone backwards. Jim’s conviction that neither Sito or
Fab are up to the full-back task has meant he’s playing the guy he brought
in to create a new central partnership at right back, and in the middle it’s
the same old tried-and-failed formula, only two or three years older and
slower. There would never be a better time to give any youngsters from the
youth squad a try, so obviously the management feels there’s nothing there,
and we’ll surely see if this “money to spend” really exists in January,
because a right-back or centre-half is definitely needed.

All those failings were there on display today: the defence panicked
sufficient times to present the opposition with a soft goal (as we’ve seen
in virtually every home match for the past three or four years); and the
attack was either immobile or disjointed. Or sometimes both.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t rubbish today, and we’ve played much worse
and got more from a match. It’s a joy to see so few long balls out of
defence (I can only recall De Vos or Naylor playing half a dozen passes more
than about 20 metres) and there’s some genuine commitment in there. The
management now needs to up their game and convert this into something which
can get results.

Overall Town Performance: 5 (3 for effort/2 for achievement)

Player Ratings

PRICE 4 (2/2): Rarely tested, but when he was, mucked it up almost every
time. An awful flap in the second half was followed by a soft goal he should
never have let by, and then a lucky break when he nearly let one slip
through his hands into the net. Get your kit washed, Shane, you’re on.

BRUCE 5 (3/2), NAYLOR 5 (2/3), DE VOS 6 (3/3), HARDING 8 (4/4):
If Alex Bruce is to be a full back, he needs to look over the other side to
see how it’s done. Neither defender was under much pressure, but Dan Harding
made so many good breaks forward he was almost playing as a winger – yet he
rarely overcommitted himself. Alex was far more reticent to do anything.
Bam-Bam had a poor second half, redeeming himself only with the normal brace
of goal-line clearances, for which we should be grateful.

ROBERTS 6 (4/2), LEGWINSKI 8 (4/4), GARVAN 7 (3/4), WILLIAMS 7 (3/4):
This was really impressive, especially in the middle of the park, where we
picked up everything, and consistently passed it around well, even if there
was rarely anything incisive subsequently created up front. Gavin Williams
looked like real class on occasions, and my only worry was that Gary Roberts
is going to have an increasing number of days like this, when a canny
defence is quite aware of his limitations. You can’t fault the commitment,
and the natural ability, but he’s going to have to up his game to make his
mark at this level.

MACKEN 4 (2/2), LEE 4 (2/2): Static, unimposing and just really
disappointing. With a midfield buzzing, it should have been a real
opportunity, but neither striker managed to create anything. Alan had
obviously been told to play more centrally, and stop all this running
towards the corner inviting the long punt out of defence (and a good thing
too), but that deprives him of the most effective part of his game. I like
the guy, but his play doesn’t seem to fit in with the way this midfield is
going. Macken just seems to have very little to offer, full stop.

Subs: HAYNES was brought on up front to replace Lee, rather than in the wide
position where he’d scared Leeds witless last week. I’d have rather seen him
there and Roberts (who was having little luck) brought into the middle. As
it was, he looked lost. PETERS eventually got the right-winger’s berth, but
seemed too worried about the fact that he’d replaced a full-back to get
forward as much as was needed. WALTON got a few minutes for no particular

The CROWD lost out to the tumbleweed blowing through the ground in terms of
noise. The REFEREE (everyone’s old friend Uriah) was occasionally fussy, but
generally kept the game flowing and showed why he’s been one of the better
refs in the country for the past few years. LEE HENDRIE was today’s hate
figure (there’s always one) although this week’s flash git was on-loan
Sunderland striker Liam Lawrence, who stars with three team-mates and a
16-year-old girl in this week’s extremely not-suitable-for-work video*
widely available on an interweb near you. When he scored, all I could think
of was that it was the second time I’d seen him stick one in over the past
24 hours, and both occasions were equally unpleasant.


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