The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Watford 2

No sooner does the away record go than – with crushing inevitability – the home one goes too. To be honest, I doubt it’ll do us too much harm to no longer be perceived as unbeatable at Portman Road – teams may come and try to play a bit more, at least. And it’s probably no disgrace to lose to what will surely prove to be the strongest team in the division between now and May.

That’s not to say it wasn’t irritating to lose to them though. Watford certainly know how to stifle any creativity in their opponents, and they pushed us around – often literally – at will. They aren’t going to make many friends on their way back to the promised land.

We offered very little in reply during the first 45 minutes. Norris (and to a lesser extent Quinn) out wide watched the game pass by, Walters was outmuscled, and Miller and Garvan were dragged around and brushed aside. At half-time Jim actually made the change that everyone around me was calling for, and he made the change promptly for once, so there’d be little we could complain about, tactically. Fortunately we didn’t have to. Walters out wide, Norris in the middle and the introduction of Lee were all steps forward. With a bit of luck we could have got back into the game too, but when we didn’t take our rare chances, Watford promptly killed it off. Even two more encouragingly early substitutions weren’t enough.

My biggest worry about all this was that the glaring problem was in the midfield, which was limp. I suppose with such a major transformation, we’re going to have to wait to see a coherent unit develop. But it was our lack of midfield presence which ultimately cost us any points today. The next week will give a better indication of whether the playoffs are a solid possibility. I still think they are.

Overall Town performance:
5/10 – just not strong enough

Opposition quality:
8/10 – really disliked them. But they’ll steamroller most other teams who dare to play football against them

4/10 – Irritated both sets of supporters, and failed to keep things going. But a point for (finally) yellow-carding the time-wasting

Match excitement:
6/10 – plenty happening, but it was far from a classic

Opposition supporters:
8/10 – loads of ‘em, and they were noisy too

Player ratings as ever 1 to 5 for each of effort/achievement…

BYWATER 5 (3/2) deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt for now, but whilst his presence in the area was OK, his distribution was the worst I’ve seen from a Town keeper for years, and simply not good enough. One great save when it mattered though.

WRIGHT 8 (4/4) had another committed and effective performance; BRUCE 7 (4/3) and DE VOS 7 (4/3) stood up to the opposition well, although they were a bit profligate with the ball; and HARDING 6 (3/3) deserved to be back in the team.

QUINN 5 (3/2) didn’t play as much of a role as we’d have hoped, but then nobody did in the midfield; MILLER 4 (2/2) found the game passing him by; GARVAN 5 (3/2) was far too lightweight; and NORRIS 5 (2/3) was as unremarkable as anyone, especially when wasted out wide in the first half.

COUNAGO 5 (3/2) had very little service, but never looked like a threat; WALTERS 5 (3/2) was more noticeable, but got very little change out of Watford’s centre-backs, and they coped with him disappointingly well out wide in the second half too.

Subs: LEE 6 (3/3) gave us a lot more bite, and was unlucky not to score. HAYNES looked surprisingly comfortable in a central striking role; and SUMULIKOSKI was probably the pick of the three midfield new boys, who – it has to be said – are all remarkably similar in appearance and style.

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