The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Charlton Athletic 0

If anyone was wondering after the Barnsley debacle whether we’re back to the old routine (invincible at home, awful away), the answer may well be that we are. Because this was a cracking display against a strong team let down only by their inability to create chances. Yet we controlled most of the game, missed several glorious chances, and looked comfortable even when Charlton had periods of pressure.

We started off with a very conservative lineup: no Walters or Haynes, with four guys across the middle who all seem like genuine central midfielders. This was a real 4-4-2, not the 4-2-4 in disguise we’ve played for much of the season. It looked solid too, if possibly a little lacking in flair. Then Norris went off injured, Danny came back, and inevitably things became a little less coherent but potentially a bit more exciting. But either way, we were generally too much for a Charlton side whose season seems to be accelerating the wrong way.

Garvan thrashed in a goal from the most acute of angles, and celebrated as if he totally meant it as a shot – I’ll believe that only if the replay shows there was nobody in the centre waiting for a cross. Danny smashed in a peach of a volley, and two goals were always going to be enough. The ovation for Pablo as he was subbed was impressive, although it wasn’t so much to say “you had a great game”, more like “please don’t think that the massive ovation your replacement is about to get reflects on what we think of you”. And so Shefki joined Jim’s attempt to recreate his favourite lineup from the Royle era (with Holland and Ambrose on the pitch too, and later Miller, I started to wonder who we’d see out there next: Reuser perhaps? Or Gaardsoe?). The place went mental, and the “big man” started to tear around the pitch in that unique style. Sadly it wasn’t the only thing to tear, and the next thing we had a stretcher and the possibility of a return to the club shorter than Ulrich Le Pen’s playing career here. A very, very strange thing to see.

So where now? It’s too late to sort out the blunt strikeforce – we’re stuck with Lee and Counago’s non-partnership for the rest of the season now, and we just have to hope they somehow find what they’ve failed to find in the previous 38 games. We’re probably narrow favourites to take the last playoff spot, but winning the four home games and losing the four away ones won’t be good enough. Jim still has to find some consistency, and he has to start with selecting a consistent lineup. With long-term injuries and stupidly irrecoverable loans, he may be forced to.

Overall Town performance:
8/10 – more strength than flair for once.

Opposition quality:
6/10 – clearly a decent side which has lost its sharpness.

4/10 – just managed to prevent the game from boiling over, which would have been his fault.

Match excitement:
7/10 – definitely one of the better matches of the season.

Opposition supporters:
8/10 – numerous and noisy.

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

BYWATER 7 (3/4) didn’t have any great saves to make, which is hardly his fault, but his general handling was very good, and his distribution much better (which couldn’t have been that difficult).

WRIGHT 7 (3/4) was lively and made some excellent interceptions in the area; BRUCE 6 (3/3) was reliable, although enough with the long balls, Alex!; DE VOS 8 (4/4) was again a tower of strength, winning almost everything; and SITO 7 (3/4) looked very classy, and like Wright, made some telling tackles and blocks around goal.

NORRIS didn’t really get that involved again, and then had an early exit; GARVAN 8 (4/4) was sheer class, and although not everything came off, the stuff that did was the highlight of the afternoon for me; SUMULIKOSKI 6 (3/3) played the foil which allowed Garvan the freedom to express himself; and QUINN 5 (3/2) seemed willing, but never looked remotely like a left winger.

LEE 5 (3/2) put himself about a bit, but missed some easy chances; and although COUNAGO 4 (2/2) at least had a couple of goal attempts this week, he was comfortably contained by the defenders. The two of them seemed more preoccupied with blaming each other for their own inadequacies, and we’ve got to find better than this up front next season, whatever division we’re in.

As for the subs, HAYNES 5 (2/3) occasionally worried them, but not nearly enough, and gave the ball away far too often – the goal forgives all though; KUQI had a very bizarre afternoon; and MILLER looked very solid for the few minutes he got – exactly what we needed at that time.

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