The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich 3 Nottm Forest 1

‘Can we play you every week?’ – the North Stand prove it’s not the
originality which makes a chant good, it’s the timing. Perfect. Because
before extolling the virtues of a tremendous Town performance, we should
bear in mind that Forest were a shambles. However, let’s not gripe!
…for the third season running GB opened up with a new formation which
surprised not only the opposition but even the supporters. A fluid
4-3-3/4-4-2 hybrid with Scowcroft and Johnson AND Naylor. Who’d have
believed it? What a great way to use the players we had. Difficult to
describe really, but depending on where the play was coming from,  the
three central defenders (Venus/McGreal/Thetis) shuffled over to one side
with  Clapham covering left back when the play and the central defence
was over to the right, and Stockwell covering right back when things were
happening over to the left. Holland and Wright in midfield would find
themselves joined by Clapham or Stockwell depending whose side play was
coming down – or going ahead from. Scowcroft played just ahead of them,
and Johnson and Naylor together up front. And didn’t that partnership
look interesting?
We really couldn’t have asked for more than for all three strikers to get
a goal each, and a good striker’s goal in every case too.
McGreal looked very useful, given the huge responsibility of being the
centre of defence in such a tricky formation. Venus had a fair game too,
although his distribution was typically erratic. I know it’s a Town
tradition to have a comedy player, but Thetis did get overconfident at
times. Still, when he gets away with it, like today, it’s great value to
Stockwell covered a huge amount of ground, which is so important as this
allowed him to fill the midfield and full back roles he was asked to, and
also had a great game. Clapham looked a little less comfortable, and
really didn’t make the most of some big spaces to run into, especially in
the first half. Holland also found the formation difficult. He really got
stuck in (as did almost all the team, it has to be said – fantastic to
see) but he had far to big a role for one player to cope with. Wright
looked promising. He’s nothing like a Kieron replacement, he has less
skill and less speed, but possibly more intelligence and certainly a
better passing ability. In fact, his occasional forward passes for
players to run on to looked really good. Scowie struggled slightly with
playing behind the front two, but give it time. He was certainly
effective – surprisingly – as a ball-winning/tackling midfielder.
Johnson’s speed and application was the key for me. He constantly caused
panic in the Forest defence, and the whole of Town’s domination stemmed
from their inability to settle on their game. OK, he missed the usual
sitter, but the goal was magnificent. As was Naylor’s goal (are you
Scowie in disguise?). What can you say about Naylor’s performance? Yes,
the control and passing was occasionally a bit ragged, but suddenly
here’s a partnership in the Johnson/Mathie class being hinted at again.
More often the link-ups with Scowie and Johnson were sheer class and they
just ripped through the Forest defence. This could be excellent.
All credit then to GB for tactics which really exploited the fact that
most of the Forest team hardly knew each other and didn’t understand each
other. They’ll get better – we might not have to get much better. The
Forest fan next to me, who left at half time (really!), said “I hope
you’re the best team in the Division this season, because otherwise we’re
in real trouble”. And given that at the start I’d certainly have taken an
odd-goal victory, how amazing was it that we left thinking how we could
have had five and how disappointing it was that we gave away a silly
penalty and failed to get a clean sheet.

This season could be quite good you know.

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