The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Aston Villa 2

Burley said afterwards “we are not being outplayed by anyone” but I’d beg to
differ for the second match in succession. Sure we have a lot of possession,
sure we work incredibly hard, but the ease with which the Leicester and
Aston Villa defences dealt with everything we threw at them was indicative,
in my mind, of being outplayed by better teams. There’s still plenty to do.

There were no signs of the gap between the midfield and the attack being
bridged. Playing Scowie instead of Stewart didn’t change anything in that
respect. In fact, the selection of Scowie was the biggest problem of the
afternoon. Note the choice of words. It wasn’t Scowie himself who was the
problem, in fact, he played well. It was the selection of Scowie which was
the problem. His presence up ahead gave the players with poorer distribution
(Venus, and an increasingly hassled Magic and Matt) an “easy option” to hoof
it up, whereas in previous games they were forced to play it through. So we
saw the return to the Venus heave-ho, and Southgate, Ehiogu and Alpay just
said thanks very much as they helped themselves all afternoon.

Johnson started brightly but faded rapidly as he realised he was only going
to get the same difficult-to-control balls all afternoon. Nobody expects him
to have any understanding with Scowie, so nobody was disappointed. Only
Jermaine Wright attempted to play through balls on the deck which Johnno
could chase. But really, Johnno’s only regular contribution was to lay the
ball off to someone in no better a position.

The stats show why we’re going to be in real trouble if we don’t sort out
our forward play. Fourteen shots, four on target, and James was only really
troubled by one of these. Lots of running around to no real effect. Villa
had four shots but they just made them count. Not being outplayed George?
Well, 14 shots to 4 would suggest that’s true. But Villa were comfortably
better than us. And that’s all there is to it.

The referee got barracked all afternoon by both sets of supporters for not
blowing up more, but I’m going to defend him here. Not only was he
consistent, but by letting so much go, he gave both sides the chance to get
on with it. We might have objected to the number of times Scowie was leant
on and pushed, but he’s a big boy and should deal with it. Once the referee
had let that go, he was right to carry on all doing the same all afternoon,
and the Villa supporters felt the same was happening the other end. In fact,
we should be glad he let so much go, because whilst it would have been funny
to have seen Ginola go off (and he should have gone), it would have been
disastrous to see Titus go off (and Andy D’Urso must be the most lenient
referee in Britain to have not shown Titus a deserved second yellow). So
fair play to the ref.

Match ratings (my Leicester/Sunderland/Man Utd ratings in

Richard Wright 7 (7/6/7): confidence is definitely better, and fortunately
didn’t seemed too shaken by the Nilis incident, which wasn’t his fault but
might have put some players off. Didn’t have to make a decent save, but not
really at fault for either goal.

Fab 8 (7/8/9): looked lively again, often appearing just when someone was
needed (i.e when clueless strikers with their back to goal had run out of
ideas) but didn’t get a break. Wasted a couple of centres, otherwise another
really encouraging performance, aided by the fact that Titus is playing so
well, Fab can go forward with confidence that the space behind is covered.

Titus 7 (8/9/8): another good performance, but marred by completely losing
his head in a replay of the incident which saw Magic get sent off last year.
Amazingly (and presumably because it was the end of the game) the ref
decided (after some deliberation) to let it go. Let’s hope Titus learns as
much from the incident as he would have done if he’d been sent off.
Otherwise, some glorious (clean) challenges. We’re almost taking him for
granted now – you just knew he’d dispossess Ginola didn’t you?

HH 7 (8/8/8): went walkabout to leave Dublin unmarked for the winner,
otherwise looked solid again. His runs forward didn’t seem to come off

Venus 5 (-/7/8): oh no no no. Back to his wasteful worst, and it was all
down to one thing: the reappearance of Scowie 50 yards in front of him. He
just can’t resist that hoof can he? Also seemed a little off the pace on
several occasions, defensively. A shame.

Jamie C 7 (8/6/8): worked hard, and was unlucky not to have set something
up. But even with Scowie there, and even with his Opta-ratings-leading
crossing, it just didn’t click.

Matt 6 (6/6/7): might have been an all-time-low five for Matt except he came
to life in the last ten minutes when we suddenly felt we might get something
out of the game. Which was doubly odd, because until then I felt Matt’s lack
of involvement and occasionally wayward distribution was probably down to
his injury. But if you can suddenly turn it on after 90 minutes, that’s not
likely to be the problem. I’m concerned, Matt was my banker in terms of the
player in the side who’d make the step up to the Premiership the most
easily. It isn’t happening.

Magic 6 (7/7/8): rare for Jim to play poorly when Matt does, last season it
was almost always one or the other, but when both lose their way like this,
even playing five across the midfield isn’t going to make up for it. Just
seemed devoid of imagination and creativity. Surely it can’t be the

Jermaine 7 (7/8/7): copy and paste previous comments, solid again, and
unlucky to be taken off when Matt and Magic were poorer. Played two or three
glorious through balls on the deck of the sort Johnno should thrive on.

Johnno 5 (6/8/8): anonymous, didn’t give the defenders any problems marking
him, didn’t give his team-mates any obvious options, spent most of the match
with his back to goal or offside (he’s had the most offsides against him in
the Premiership) and as ever his control was abysmal. We can forgive him all
this if he gets in the right place at the right time, but he’s not doing it.

Scowcroft 7 (6/7/-): tried hard, and won a lot, but only just – there were
few occasions when a winning header went anywhere dangerous. Looked better
when he got stuck in on the deck, funnily enough. Never really got near any
of the few crosses which came his way.


Stewart 7 (7/6/9): seemed much hungrier than anyone else to do something
positive; OK, it’s easier to be like that when you come on as a late sub,
but compare and contrast to Scowie’s sub appearances, which have been far
less significant. We’ve all got a horrible feeling in the back of our minds,
haven’t we (especially after the Bolton and Barnsley epics) that Stewart is
only any good when Johnno’s out of the picture.

Reuser 5 (-/-/6): we all wanted him on, the gap which needed filling seemed
made for him, but as in his other substitute appearance, he just watched in
bemusement as play went on around him. Never seemed up with the pace at all.
A huge, huge disappointment.

McGreal 8 (-/-/-): deep joy, the man is back. Composed on the ball, strong
coming forward, and full of intelligent passing, short when there’s nothing
on, accurate into the box diagonally when the opportunity presented itself.
It’s probably too late now Mr Venus, but watch and learn.

Ref: 8
Crowd: 6 (oh dear, we were quiet weren’t we?)
Darius Vassell: blundering, dangerous git

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