The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 4 Sheffield Wed 1

I’m sure stattos will tell me if I’m wrong, but that must be about four or five years running we’ve kicked off the league campaign at home, and normally it’s a tight, tentative affair. Not today though – it was ole football almost from the start, with
the whole team seeming to be enjoying themselves. The first game is rarely a pointer to the whole season, good or bad, but Jim will be very happy with how it all came together so well. On a gloriously sunny afternoon, the 23,000 faithful (a bit below
average for an opening day fixture, methinks) had some great entertainment, from a penalty inside a minute (!) to an amusingly toothless performance from Francis Jeffers, who was greeted like the second coming of Robert Fleck.

Whisper it quietly, but we weren’t that dominant, especially in terms of general playmaking, but we were incisive where it counted and if we had the luck on our side, well, we made it so. The defence was reactive rather than commanding, but cleared
almost everything thrown at it, and was the outstanding part of the team, shading it over a very lively front two. However, the midfield struggled to get a grip on the game, to be honest, at least until Wednesday gave up late on, and must be a cause for
concern. Roberts really looked like a player who was filling in, and what worries me slightly is that Monica’s return won’t free up anyone for that left-sided position (it won’t suit Miller, Peters, Haynes or Walters), nor does there seem to be anyone
else waiting in the wings.

So there’s work to be done, but I can’t remember such a positive first Saturday of the season since we turned Tottenham over, back in what seems like 1876 or something. Jim’s frighteningly unambitious target of “We’ve got to finish higher than last
season” should just about be attainable on this performance. Oh, go on then, playoffs.

Overall Town performance:
7/10 – slightly flattering score but we’re all Singing The Blues tonight.

Opposition quality:
6/10 – stronger than you might think from the score.

8/10 – any ref who books an opponent for diving is alright in my book.

Match excitement:
7/10 – didn’t really want it to end, to be honest.

Opposition supporters:
8/10 for the vocals, 0/10 for the dozens who went with half an hour (yes, half an hour!) to go.

Player ratings as ever out of 5 for each of effort/achievement…

ALEXANDER 6 (3/3) had a decent start, albeit not the busiest afternoon he’s had in his career; he certainly seemed confident from the off, and his defence were equally confident in him, which is very promising – we’ll overlook the spell of wayward
kicking in the second half.

WRIGHT 6 (3/3) made a few positional errors and on more than one occasion would have been grateful for the support he got from Walters tracking back, but otherwise he was OK; BRUCE 7 (3/4) had a very solid game, and is going to get on the end of one of
Garvan’s corners before long; DE VOS 6 (3/3) looked comfortable throughout, despite being busy; and HARDING 8 (4/4) was my pick of the team, having to work so hard with every Wednesday attack coming down that wing, but coping tremendously.

WALTERS 8 (4/4) may well turn me into a fan of the big-bloke-out-on-the-wing, something which wastes his aerial ability to an extent and which I instinctively hate, but he caused a lot of problems and put his heart and soul into it; MILLER 5 (3/2) was
quiet and although competent, never really stamped much authority onto the game; GARVAN 6 (3/3) restrained his attacking tendencies well in the defensive midfield role, but again, didn’t impose himself like he can; and ROBERTS 5 (2/3) only gets a mark
that high because I have to add one on for the fabulous strike for the second goal – otherwise he was quite nondescript.

LEE 8 (3/5) faded in and out, but when he was in, was he in, scoring two and helping set up the other two, which as a main striker takes him beyond criticism; and COUNAGO 7 (4/3) also proved a handful throughout, and quite frankly, looked to be
potentially as good as Jeffers ever would have been in the same role. You just *knew* he was waiting to be in front of the North Stand before he scored.

Subs: HAYNES and CLARKE ran around a bit for the last few minutes but didn’t really terrify the opposition’s creaky central defence like we might have hoped; LEGWINSKI got a few moments to stretch his legs at the end.

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