The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 3 Derby Co 1

The opposition wasn’t as glamorous, but there was that distinct excitement in the air which we had in the first home game last season. And Town put on a similarly scintillating performance which, at times in the first half, featured passing as fluent as anything we saw last season. With Finidi and Reuser under instructions to play wide but to cut in as much as to get to the byline, it was more 4-2-4 than 4-4-2, ambitious but in the end a huge success. Of course we should have had five or six; we were only kept to three by a combination of some slack finishing, goal-line clearances, lucky deflections and the man of the match, Mart Poom. If Sereni turns out to be as good as the keeper we went for first, we won’t miss Richard at all.
The strategy was to play Reuser and Stewart one side, with Naylor and Finidi the other, both pairs cutting in diagonally and the centre channel being relatively ignored. I can’t recall seeing a Burley side do this before, so yet again he’s opened up a new season with some brand new tactics. And yet again he’s surprised and impressed everyone.
As is often the case, O’Neill’s sending off with two-thirds of the match still to play heralded extra resolve from Derby, and their response to our second goal just after half-time was most unexpected – we probably thought we’d be up against 5-3-1, but instead they went 4-2-3, with Christie and Burton playing wide and the midfield bypassed as much as possible. Unfortunately Matt and Jermaine didn’t seem to be able to make much of this, but the one-way traffic which Plan A produced just continued regardless. Marvellous stuff, and how good’s it going to be if Finidi can keep that up and an even better understanding between the players emerges, as it surely will?
Some ratings:
SERENI (6) didn’t have much to do all evening, and was left exposed by Titus and Makin for the goal. Looks like he’ll control his area better than Richard ever did, and his kicking’s possibly as good, so if he turns out to be a half-decent shot-stopper, George may have achieved the unlikely feat of replacing Richard with someone just as good.
MAKIN (6) wasn’t tested much defensively, but gave Naylor and Finidi some good backup. Wasted a few chances to put a decent centre in though. BRAMBLE (7) had his normal mixed game. Thoroughly skinned on two occasions, both times he saved the situation with crunching saving tackles before his opponent got out of sight. Strong in the air though, and still increasing in confidence. HREIDARSSON (6) had a very quiet evening, but ambled forward towards the end for a laugh and really fancied himself for a goal. CLAPHAM (6) was fairly solid but didn’t support the pair in front of him quite as well as Makin did with his pair on the other side.
HOLLAND (7) got through a lot of work and had a really good game. He even made a couple of sweeping passes out to Finidi which you wouldn’t have seen him attempt a year or two ago. WRIGHT (5) disappointed somewhat; with only two in the midfield, if he’d made his presence felt like Matt did, Derby wouldn’t have had a touch all night. The tactics meant a much more withdrawn role than I suspect he likes however. Abysmal shooting again: yes, Jermaininho is the new Jim Magilton…
FINIDI (9) set the ground alight with powerful, striding runs into the box all evening, the ability to rain shots in from every angle and one of the most exciting performances we’ve seen for years. What’s more, he tracked back to help out on several occasions, made some great tackles reminiscent of how Scowie did, and just never seemed to give up. It’s difficult to describe his style, but it’s not dissimilar to Emile Heskey, and I mean that as a compliment. Can he keep this up? If he can, he’ll be a sensation. NAYLOR (8) was given one of the biggest opportunities of his career to date, being picked ahead of Counago and Armstrong, and he didn’t let himself down. A real old-fashioned striker’s performance, holding the ball up where necessary, dragging away defenders and striking up a real rapport with Finidi, who may have been sensational, but it was in no small part down to Naylor’s support. STEWART (5) got what he expected this season, serious defensive attention. Rarely managed to achieve anything, and was totally eclipsed by the fireworks to his right. Disappointing , it’s true, but if defences concentrate on him and leave space elsewhere, he may have a role to play. REUSER (4) was nothing short of bloody awful. In the second half he had acres and acres of space, more than I’ve ever seen him given, and he managed to produce only a couple of decent centres and a single good shot. He didn’t hit it off with Stewart anything like Naylor and Finidi were doing, and – worst of all – with about 20 minutes to go he was completely finished. He could barely muster a jog. In fact he won two free kicks late on by falling over because he hardly had the strength to run, rather than any pushes on the part of the defender. The only black mark on an otherwise fabulous evening.
Substitutes: COUNAGO looked promising but he’s not remotely picked up the speed of the game yet. Time and time again he was beaten to it by defenders he shouldn’t have been beaten by. But he seems to have a great eye for an opportunity, and some good skill too: I think he’s going to be a hit. WILNIS and ARMSTRONG didn’t really get into things as the game got scrappy towards the end.
Ref: OK I suppose. Crowd: Good, the noise does go straight out of the open end of the ground, but the upper South Stand looked and sounded very impressive. Hilarious to hear the “Finidi Song” start off with a few people then slowly spread throughout the stand and eventually the ground. Wasn’t it supposed to be Counago’s song? Mart Poom: extraordinary.

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