The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Chelsea 2

Cracking game – from a neutral point of view, perhaps the best game yet this
season. If you’re fascinated by watching a succession of teams pitch
different styles and strategies against us each week, this was another one
to add to the collection; Chelsea are a team with a lot of skill, limited
game plan and no team spirit or motivation. Almost diametrically opposite
us, in fact.

Giving away two goals at a point in the game where we were holding our own
was stupid. If Chelsea had held on it would have been a classic hit-and-run,
but (and I don’t know why) I felt immediately that we would eventually pull
the deficit back. For me, that feeling is the real measure of how far we’ve

After recent weeks where major surgery was made to the tactics during almost
every game, it made a change to see a consistent 4-4-2 throughout. Croft for
Wilnis later on had the opposite effect to the kick up the bum which a
substitution normally gives, which was a shame, otherwise it all worked
really well. However, with Chelsea sticking rigidly to three at the back,
we’d have just needed to pull one of the defenders away to create some
openings, and I wonder if, given the chance, Johnson could have done this to
an otherwise magnificent Desailly later on? We’ll never know.

The best thing to come out of the game was the fact that we were missing two
of our three most influential players (Jim and John McG) and yet we seemed
to cope. Even the most optimistic amongst us have been saying that we’ll hit
a rough patch when we get injuries to core players. But… but… perhaps
things are even better than we thought?

Burley seems to be rotating the squad to a limited extent, giving
opportunities to the likes of Croft, Bramble and Armstrong to prove
themselves. He might not admit it in public, but I think this means he’s
convinced in his own mind we’re already safe, and wants to build for next
season already. Titus in particular is going to be something really special
but makes too many elementary mistakes to be a regular if we need the
points. Fortunately, and incredibly, we don’t.

Wright 7 – No chance with the goals, and Chelsea only had two other attempts
on target, so not a busy afternoon really. Looked confident though.
Wilnis 7 – much more consistent than many games recently, and in the first
half particularly had plenty of opportunities to push forward with only a
clueless-looking (when attacking) Dennis Wise to play against. Really

Bramble 6 – what can you say? Way too slow to cope with Gudjohnsen for both
goals, yet seemed to take it in his stride, added it to the learning
experience and hardly missed anything else all afternoon. The trademark
bulldozer run into their area before our first goal was symptomatic of the
way we were coming back into things rather than the cause of it, but gave
everyone a lift. After what might have been a confidence-sapping stinker
against Derby a few weeks ago, Titus is back and seemingly all the better
for the experience.

Venus 6 – if you disregard a handful of hopeless hoofs, a solid performance.
Off the pace slightly at times, but in reality didn’t look troubled much at
any stage by Hasselbaink or anyone else they put down that channel.

HH 7 – this time, left back was just the spot for Hermann, who on several
occasions, to use an immortal Colemanball, opened up his legs and showed us
his class.

Scowcroft 7 – played the whole game wide on the right, and was his usual
infuriating self. Can’t live with him, can’t live without him. Dominating in
the air, yet twice missed easy chances to cushion the ball down for Stewart.
Failed to connect decently with a couple of shots where other strikers would
have done better, yet popped up for the goal when others had failed to make
that impact. Defies summary really.

Holland 8 – Our four midfielders (three if you consider Scowie was more of a
target man behind the strikers) easily held their own against Chelsea’s five
midfielders. That says everything about a quietly masterful performance.

Wright 8 – Same again. Stepped into Jim’s shoes beautifully. Whilst not in
any sense the same sort of player, Jermaine knew exactly what to do, and did
exactly what it said on the tin.

Clapham 7 – Big contribution to the midfield effort, and worth an 8 for much
of the first half for sure, but I just felt Jamie never quite stretched
their defence as much as we all hoped he could.

Armstrong 6 – Competent Nayloresque performance, although not sharp enough
to take advantage of a couple of surprise chances which came his way. Kept
them busy without ever rising above the crowd.

Stewart 9 – Brilliant performance which I thought had everything, including
a level of determination I’ve never seen before which actually led to a
couple of challenges he might have regretted late on. But that’s exactly
what we like to see. Kept producing opportunities out of nowhere. Cast your
mind back and just think how steadily Marcus has come on in the last nine
months, and just think what’s going to happen if there’s more improvement to


Reuser 8 – infected from the start with the same determination which was
coming over Stewart, and even more out of character, but one of the best
things about the match for me. Still not the player we all hoped, but he
really wants to be, and who knows?

Croft 5 – the most disappointing performance of the afternoon (apart from
the ref). Simply asked to play the Wilnis role for 20 minutes (no idea why),
but never looked the part.

Ref 4 – wasn’t asked to do much but failed to do even that. Strangely still
managed to book four Chelsea players!

Crowd 8 – really created a good Boxing Day atmosphere

Leboeuf – (Cheating Dirty French) Git.

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