The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 0 Birmingham City 1

With so many recent performances being quite dispiriting, nobody could complain about Jim ringing the changes yet again, but I don’t think anyone expected to see a lone striker (at home!) and the return of Ivan Campo …at centre-back. The surprises didn’t stop there. The disappointing Jon Walters really isn’t “undroppable” after all, and Shumi seems to have disappeared without trace. All most intriguing.

But the result was much the same – once again, going forward we seemed to have no idea what to do, and no movement. Campo kept trying to find anyone at all making space to drop one of his fabulous long-balls onto, but eventually gave up and went back to playing unadventurous short balls. Jim says he played two wide men to counteract Birmingham’s likely narrow game plan, which was fair enough, but why on earth he then thought Stead would make a better left-winger than Ambrose, nobody knows. In the event, it wasn’t Birmingham’s narrow game plan which was the problem, it was their match-killing lack of ambition which Town were never going to overcome. Birmingham are impressive at what they do, but good grief it’s boring. It was a classic case of there being no chance of Town scoring even if the board at the end had displayed 400 minutes rather than 4. Neither goalkeeper made a decent save all afternoon (Wrighty’s lone wake-up call was going into the side netting) and although I haven’t seen the official stats, I can’t remember more than about three or four shots on target, in total, at either end.

The end-of-quarter Powerpoint presentation from the Ipswich Town division of the Marcus Evans Group will need Alastair Campbell’s touch if it’s to show any optimism. I’m sure Mr Evans has the odd long-serving employee looking for reassignment in these tough times, and I wonder if the logistics vice-president of WidgetEx 2009 (cancelled) might not do a better job than the current managerial team.

Overall Town performance:
4/10 – played it around confidently enough at the back, but lacked any creativity up front

Opposition quality:
6/10 – came to kill the game, and succeeded magnificently – and got a Christmas present for their efforts

Referee:
5/10 – kept a lid on things, but was too quick to flash the yellows

Match excitement:
4/10 – dismal, and cold

Opposition supporters:
5/10 – nearly as dismal, and nearly as cold

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

WRIGHT 5 (2/3) did well not to freeze to death with so little to do, but also seemed uncharacteristically out of touch with his defence on occasions

VOLZ 4 (2/2) was adequate defensively, but the handball was just stupid, and the yellow card needless; McAULEY 5 (2/3) was as untroubled as the rest of his defence, but didn’t use the opportunity to inspire or even lead by example; CAMPO 6 (3/3) brought some rare (possibly the only) moments of appreciation from the crowd with his long passing, and just about stayed in touch with a strong, pacy opposition attack through quick thinking – but with Bruce seemingly on his way out, Naylor possibly finished, and Balkestein a distant fourth choice, is this really the future? THATCHER 6 (3/3) got on with things sensibly and solidly.

HAYNES looked unfit from the start, and his replacement was already being warmed up when he really overdid it and hobbled off; NORRIS 5 (2/3) started off working encouragingly hard, but faded badly in the second half, as did MILLER 5 (2/3), who seemed to be increasingly bypassed as the match went on; QUINN 5 (3/2) never really had any impact at all; and STEAD 4 (2/2) seemed like a fish out of water trying to play wide – you just knew the attack would break down almost every time a ball went in his direction. Things didn’t get any better when Town went 4-4-2 (which I think they did, it was hard to tell).

LISBIE 5 (3/2) did seem to be trying, but was too isolated and too exposed to cause the Birmingham defence any problems.

From the bench, WALTERS 5 (3/2) offered the same lack of presence as he’s been offering all season, although respect for taking on the right-back role reasonably competently; AMBROSE offered just one interesting run in 30 minutes; and COUNAGO made precious little impact.

I’m off on holiday for a few days, so will miss the FA Cup game should they ever decide who we’re going to play – but even if I was around, I suspect it would be hard to muster up the enthusiasm (never mind the ¬£30 or whatever they’re likely to ask for my usual seat). I’ll be interested to see how many diehards there really are at the moment – it could be embarrassing.

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