The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 1 West Ham 1

A real two points thrown away, but so long as they’re not crucial at the end
of the season the main thing we should take away from the match was the
memory of the fabulous performance the team put in for the first 35 minutes.
People are going to say we “sat back” after that, but that’s far from the
case: West Ham were more astutely organised and more tactically mature, and
put a stop to our slick passing game by playing much harder. The result was
that both teams’ game plans fell apart in the second half, and it became a
far more level playing field, which gave West Ham an equal chance of getting
back into things. They were lucky and the half went their way. Only Matt
refused to be intimidated, and got a couple of nasty knocks for continuing
to get stuck in.

But the fist half hour was glorious. We’ve all discussed whether the signing
of Karic was going to herald a change to 4-4-2, but Burley’s now gone that
way anyway without playing him. This leaves some questions at the back: is
HH wasted as a left back? Can Fab hack it as a right back? Is Jamie C really
an attacking midfielder? I’m dubious about all these, but what the heck, we
were terrific. The difference was in the movement; as one player came
forward, almost every time another would drop back behind him to give him
the confidence that there was an easy way out if nothing opened up ahead. If
the player took the pass back as an option, he immediately moved into a
space giving the next player the same choice. Textbook stuff, but if Keegan
could have got England to do that, he’d still be in charge.

For that half an hour Stewart put in a 9/10 performance. His movement and
anticipation was the sort of thing I thought we’d see in the Premiership,
but not from someone in blue and white. He simply gave the rest of the team
so many options, and it needed the Premiership’s performance of the day from
Rio Ferdinand (12 tackles made out of 12, according to The Observer) to stop
us. Mind you, Sport First put Jamie C, Jim AND Matt in their team of the
day. We might need better cover in midfield, but while the gang are fit,
they’re top class.

My only complaint was that whilst West Ham had managed to reorganise to
close down Stewart by the half-hour mark, and had managed to stop our
passing game completely by half-time, we weren’t nearly as flexible and had
nothing different to then offer. Bringing on Scowie for 15 minutes, and
halfway through that time, just when he would be getting up to speed with
Naylor, taking Naylor off and bringing on Johnno, was just disruptive.
Scowie and Johnno on together for 15-20 minutes I could have understood, but
I’m going to blame Burley for the fact we didn’t get a deserved winner
towards the end.

Wright 7: a couple of good saves, and – hey – he went down and took the ball
away from a player’s feet without upending him, but a left a couple of balls
in the 6-yard area when the defence would have expected him to be in charge.
Wilnis 6: to be fair, the combination of being in a back four rather than
being a wing back, and the fact he was usually up against Di Canio (who was
the focus of almost every West Ham move), meant that Fab was never going to
get forward much. But Fab didn’t get into the game really.

McGreal 7: West Ham never really came down that channel, so it was a quiet
afternoon for John, with only one trademark show-stopping saving tackle.
Again due to it being a back four he rarely ventured forward, and we missed
his oh-so-effective diagonal balls into the box.

Venus 7: did very well, and largely restrained himself from aimless punts
forward, although a bit like the latter days of Johnny Wark, he’s using his
experience to compensate for his lack of speed, and you’re continually
terrified he’s not going to get his foot to the ball in time. But in this
game he once again got away with it.

HH 7: just not the same at full back as he is in the centre (in my humble
opinion), but looked assured for most of the game and has a nice
understanding with Jamie C, who as a midfielder understands the full back
behind him well.

Wright 5: really disappointing, I wonder if he was fit and well? Misread far
too many passes. Especially as he was in an out-and-out right-sided midfield
position, a substitution for Reuser was screaming out to be made.

Magilton 7: much more like the sort of performance we’ve been hoping Jim can
produce, but just when huge gaps started to appear in the midfields later in
the game, Jim seemed to tire noticeably, which was a real shame. Deserved a
goal too.

Holland 8: oh yes, this really was what we’d been hoping for. Perhaps the
last few weeks’ slightly disappointing performances were down to the fitness
problems. Got stuck in everywhere, and continued to do so even when the
opposition signalled they were going to get a lot harder. Made some
defence-splitting late runs which threw Stimac and Pearce too.

Clapham 7: certainly put in the effort, although never with quite the effect
we might have hoped. Opposing defences know he’s going to cut back to make a
cross and cover for that now, so his runs inside rather than out wide are
becoming more significant.

Stewart 8: wonderful first half-hour; Marcus has really now shown that he’s
genuine Premiership quality when the other three strikers seem to be stuck
back in Division One. I’d only mark him down for firing wide just before
half-time when he really should have added to the team’s more impressive
shots-on-target statistics (9 out of 18 shots).

Naylor 7: tried hard, and doesn’t look like the fish-out-of-water with
Stewart that the other two do, but isn’t making the difference which Stewart
is. Unlucky (again!) at the end, but really you’d have hoped for more goal
attempts from a striker.

Subs: Scowcroft looked way off the pace. Made a couple of good headers but
something’s wrong somewhere. Sadly, 15-minute run-outs aren’t going to cure
it. Don’t know what the solution is. Johnson couldn’t be expected to
contribute much in 7 minutes, and he duly obliged. Might have had a penalty
if Stimac hadn’t been so badly injured in the three-way collision.

Referee: 5 – bottled it when Pearce should have gone off.
Crowd: 8 – whahey!  A Marcus Stewart song at last, even if the oldies are
the goodies.
Stuart Pearce: Git.

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