The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Birmingham City 0

A victory – and what’s more a late yet deserved victory – in a match loaded
with symbolism (first of 2007, against the leaders, etc) bodes really,
really well for a happy new year. We didn’t just play well for 30 or 40
minutes, we actually kept it up for 95. We didn’t give a single soft goal
away. And yes, it really did happen: we scored the late winner instead of
conceding it. Has a corner been turned? Don’t be daft. But things definitely
took another small turn in the right direction today.

Two good changes in the starting lineup: a crowd pleasing one (Billy Clarke
instead of Macken), and a smart one (Matt Richards instead of a presumably
being-rested Gavin Williams). Whether or not they would have a major effect
in their positions was almost a moot point: what these two would give would
be a guaranteed 100% effort, which might spur one or two others who’ve been
looking a bit sluggish into action. It worked – the whole team upped their
game and rarely let up. And the (rather predictable) bonus was that Billy
added a whole new dimension to the game compared to the hapless Macken.

Birmingham look decent, as they should with all that investment, although
they’re not a patch on Reading last year, Sunderland the year before, or
(whisper it) Norwich the year before that. If ever the promoted sides are
set to be cannon fodder in the Premiership, next year will be it. There’s
nothing decent in the Championship this year, and anyone could get promoted
still. I rather hope it ain’t us, to be honest, but a few more performances
like this and we could well be challenging for the playoffs.

Overall Town Performance: 8 (4 for effort/4 for achievement)

Player Ratings

PRICE 7 (3/4): Much the less busy of the two keepers, but looked confident
throughout, particularly in the air. The three performances since Christmas
have been a big improvement.

BRUCE 6 (3/3), NAYLOR 7 (3/4), DE VOS 7 (3/4), HARDING 7 (4/3): I expected
Alex to get picked on a bit by his old team and its supporters, but that
didn’t really happen. It certainly wasn’t nerves then that led to him coming
out after half-time and promptly throwing up on the pitch, twice. No idea
what that was about, but he stayed on for the whole game, so clearly it
wasn’t a big problem. He was beaten a little too easily for strength on two
occasions in the second half though. The rest of the defence were very sound

ROBERTS 7 (3/4), LEGWINSKI 8 (4/4), GARVAN 6 (3/3), RICHARDS 6 (4/2):
Very strong again, even if not much came off for poor old Matt. His
commitment was never in doubt though, and Owen looked a little off the pace
in comparison. Monica was the star of the show, most notably having an
effect where he wasn’t playing – the periods when he was in the centre
circle coincided with those when Birmingham were running at our defence
more, and the periods where he dropped back seemed to be those where
Birmingham had more of the ball in the centre.

CLARKE 7 (4/3), LEE 7 (4/3): Alan played the target man role we know he can
again today, and it was surely due to the way Billy’s running opened up
possibilities all over the place. If Macken is going to stay (and goodness
knows why Jim is even entertaining the idea), it should surely only be as
Alan’s understudy, not partner. Both Alan and Billy could do with a goal or
two to get their confidence going though – Alan especially was half-hearted
with his shooting.

Subs: WILLIAMS was predictably lively, and of course turned up in exactly
the right spot at the end. HAYNES took up where the tiring Billy Clarke left
off. And WALTON waved farewell after a few months where he won’t have done
his future any harm.

The CROWD were in reasonable form when they got going, although there were
some quiet moments. The REFEREE (D’Urso) kept things going well, I thought,
with judicious use of the yellow card, but kept spoiling his performance
with some daft decisions on more clear-cut episodes, like who’d last touched
the ball before it went out.

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