The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Middlesbrough 1

Another Saturday home game, another two points thrown away… except oops!
No they weren’t; unlike Arsenal and West Ham, this time we got the second
goal which our first half-hour’s play deserved. And by the time the
inevitable second-half lethargy came on, we we’d scored a goal more than a
dreadful Middlesbrough side were ever likely to manage in reply.

I could cut and paste the comments from the last two home games really.
Glorious first half hour, chances exquisitely created but squandered galore,
then the spark goes missing in the second half and we nearly throw it all
away. I have to say that against West Ham, I thought the second-half
turnaround was due to the opposition reorganising and getting a handle on
our game, although others on the list thought it was our own fault. After
yesterday, I’m having second thoughts. Maybe it is our own fault. Against a
team which didn’t have a clue, and was far too preoccupied with their own
game to worry about sorting us out, we still surrendered our dominance. So
maybe it is all our own fault and that may not be a bad thing, because it
gives us the opportunity to do something about it.

I’m not sure what causes this, it isn’t down to individual players tiring
(although Stewart seems to lose the plot as the game wears on). There seems
to be more space in the midfield, which the opposition seem to take more
advantage of than we do. The defence seems as capable as ever, it’s the link
through to the strikers and the slow build-up which seems to fall apart.
Perhaps our close-passing game requires a degree of mental sharpness which
just can’t be maintained for more than an hour.

Anyway, at the start of the season, if anyone had offered nine points from
the first six home games I’d have bitten their hand off (and the away record
is of course just dreamland), so it’s difficult to keep trying to work out
where we can get better. But funnily enough, I think we still can.

I’m trying here to get away, in small steps, from this daft scoring system
which marks everyone from 6 (worst performance in history) to 8 (best
performance in history) with 7 representing everything in between. Come on
people, we’ve got 10 marks to play with, let’s use ’em! If 4 or 5 out of 10
can get you a GCSE or even a degree, it ain’t that bad. When I gave Jermaine
5 last week, I just thought he was a bit disappointing, I wasn’t suggesting
he should be sold to Norwich or something! I’m trying to use 6 rather than 7
as an “average” rating.
Wright 7: looking much more like the real thing. OK, he only had three
efforts to deal with, but looked more commanding, actually shouted, and you
could see the defence were more confident with him.

Wilnis 7: this might seem generous for a player who wasn’t nearly as
involved as he often is, but with our midfield (see Wright, J) giving Boro’s
left-back the freedom of the town, Fab paced his game very intelligently to
snuff out what could have been a major threat, hanging back when his
instincts might have led him to make some rash surges forward leaving a huge
gap behind him (see Hreidarsson, H). So full marks, as it were.

McGreal 6: Another quiet afternoon for John, and (I’m sure I wrote this two
weeks ago) due to it being a back four he didn’t get forward much and we
only got a couple of his superb diagonal balls into the box.

Venus 8: to be honest, if he’d been put under more pressure and had coped,
this performance would have been worth 9, but as it was, there was too
little to do. But otherwise, getting more and more like Mogga (in an Indian
summer kind of way) as each match goes by. Seems to have totally realised
his limitations, has suddenly got commanding, and his tacking and
distribution are almost immaculate. Plus those free kicks, and the
newly-discovered ability to take reasonable corners. It’s almost as if
there’s someone who understands what being a centre-half is all about has
suddenly joined the coaching staff.

HH 6: highlight of the afternoon was the usual once-a-game wander forward
with the ball, get far further than expected, then panic on the edge of the
area, which Wimbledon fans warned us about. Hardly troubled. Didn’t
contribute much though.

Wright 5: disappointing, again, especially by the standards he’s set so far
this season (player of the season to date anyone?). Made a fair contribution
to the neat passing when it was working, but contributed little in terms of
stopping an endless succession of unopposed Boro runs down the left hand

Magilton 7: superb on the couple of occasions he got forward, which still
happens far too rarely. Certainly the lynchpin of the whole operation,
always there when needed, but his temperament is always just on the verge of
being a liability and he nearly lost it twice at the end, which was so
unnecessary in the circumstances.

Holland 8: back to his best, seemed to be everywhere, and he’s not just
making the late runs (copyright Johnny Wark, 1977) but also the early ones
to the far post ahead of the strikers, ideal for those Wilnis/McGreal
overhit centres. Shame his finishing is still so consistently substandard
(oooh, can that word ever be used in the same paragraph as the word

Clapham 6: plenty of effort again, and seemed to take on a bizarre
Zidane-style roving role for 15 minutes, which confused us more than the
opposition but was certainly exciting. But little to show for the

Stewart 6: super for a while, and unlucky not to score with an angled shot
on an afternoon where an identical effort from Bergkamp at Highbury went in.
Gloriously intelligent play for 20 minutes, then slowly seemed to fade.

Naylor 5: not a good afternoon, despite the confidence-boosting goal he was
after. Was off the pace twice when he might have connected with good
centres, and kept trying flicks and turns which might be great when they
come off, but when they don’t, the attack breaks down with a whimper. Never
mind, I still think he’s the man, and I still think it’s going to happen

Subs: Johnson tore around for five minutes, and got a fair effort in, then
became a bit anonymous, which was disappointing.

Referee: 8 – nothing controversial, no hard decisions to make, easy
afternoon for him really. But in the Premiership we seem to get referees who
decide these are the sort of days when they need to make the headlines by
going mad, so we should be very grateful this guy stayed so much in the

Crowd: 6 – not bad, I thought we lifted the team well on a couple of
occasions. And an HH song as well as a Marcus Stewart one. Such talent.

Middlesbrough Chairman who keeps Robson in a job: idiot.

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