The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 3 Bristol City 1

At the end of this match, my brother described the game as “a bit silly really”, and to be honest, I can’t improve on that summary. Town started off offering nothing, and made matters worse by conceding a soft breakaway goal with people still coming in to the ground. But gradually through the first half the team started to get its act together, led by an industrious Pablo, and might have gone in level if there’d been a bit more bite up front.

Even so, at half time none of us could see Town turning things around dramatically – what was worse, Bristol had played a containing game as if they’d expected more from the home team, and not having got that, were probably set to come out with a more adventurous game plan. However, nobody could see the next ten minutes coming. First Town got the break (at last) and an equalizer, and confidence went through the roof. For a short period they looked like they could do anything, and a second and third followed in quick succession – astonishing. At this point it could easily have ended up 6-1.

However, perhaps with Sunday in the back of their minds, several of the players were showing a lot more commitment than usual, but often in the form of dangerous challenges. Inevitably one would end up in tears, and unfortunately Alex Bruce was the culprit, with a horribly mistimed tackle which produced a deserved straight red and a stretchered-off opponent. Instantly the atmosphere and the confidence evaporated. Forget 6-1, I thought Town would be lucky to hang on to the same score. For once, Jim made the right substitutions though, and they saw out the game relatively comfortably.

It was a decent enough recovery from Sunday’s disaster, although I doubt even this comfortable win will have quietened Jim’s critics: if Garvan was dropped just for tactical reasons, I’m furious. But a definite improvement overall. I still think the signs around the club regarding Jim’s future are ominous, but I do think if he goes it’ll be in the next few days, and if he’s still here in a week’s time, he’ll still be here in May. We shall see.

Overall Town performance:
6/10 – Too slow to get going, although for the crucial spell things were magic

Opposition quality:
5/10 – Bewildered by our display in every respect – the keeper looked like he’d never let anything past him, until things suddenly went very wrong indeed

Referee:
4/10 – Made lots of mistakes, although the red card looked indisputable; got most criticism for apparently booking Volz for handball, but I reckon it was for verbals afterwards

Match excitement:
6/10 – The first half meandered a bit, then things went mad, and then Town were just professional

Opposition supporters:
5/10 – Average turnout, and not very entertaining

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

WRIGHT 7 (3/4) looked good again, and along with the Bruce/McAuley partnership, Richard’s return to form is probably the most encouraging thing about the side at present

WRIGHT 6 (3/3) had an unremarkable but solid game, as we’ve come to expect when he plays on the left; McAULEY 7 (3/4) and BRUCE 5 (2/3) continued their encouraging partnership until Alex’s big mistake (and with a ban until January, you just wonder whether we’ll see him in a blue shirt again); and VOLZ 6 (3/3) was OK without making a major impact.

WALTERS 6 (3/3) had a better game, and my goodness how he needs the confidence that goal shoudl have given him; NORRIS 5 (3/2) didn’t really impress – to be honest, I could write the same about him as I did about Miller in the last match (OK, but we missed Garvan’s creativity); SHUMULIKOSKI 6 (3/3) worked quite hard; and, AMBROSE 6 (3/3) stopped hugging the touchline to get involved more, which was good to see.

STEAD 4 (2/2) was lightweight again, generating ironic cheers on the few occasions he made a header; however, COUNAGO 8 (4/4) was easily my Man of the Match, constantly proving a handful for the Bristol defence and running himself into the ground by the 80th minute.

From the bench, GARVAN and NAYLOR were brought on to sort out the problems caused by only having ten men, and they did a good job. LISBIE got ten minutes and looked a bit more useful than he has done of late, possibly doing enough to merit consideration for a start on Saturday, given that Stead is so ineffectual at the moment.

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