The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 Southampton 3

I think that after this, our esteemed club owner might regret getting involved with the argument over Jim Magilton’s future a fortnight ago. It’s made it harder to do what he’s surely going to have to do sooner rather than later, and replace the manager. This was a whole different scenario to the half-dozen successive poor performances we’d previously seen at Portman Road: in those, the team just looked incompetent. Tonight, there was – much more alarmingly – a real absence of team spirit.

Of course, reform has to start with the manager – even those of us who’ve been sitting on the fence until now regarding that one were brought crashing to the ground well before the disintegration of the team towards the end of this match. But there was an absence of leadership on the pitch too, with nobody offering to take responsibility for their contribution to the shambles, and nobody trying to sort out some quite sour relations between several of the players, whose fingers were being pointed anywhere but themselves.

Southampton were well worth the three points, and should have helped themselves to a couple more goals. They’re a team of limited ability who know how to make the best of what they’ve got, and my goodness, Ipswich could learn from them. What’s more, they played expansive football and created acres of space to use. There were almost no redeeming features about the Ipswich response, with just a handful of efforts on goal and too many mistakes to mention.

After a very poor first half performance, Magilton stunned the home crowd by uncharacteristically making two substitutions for the restart. They were welcome, but they were not the right two by any stretch of the imagination, and you have to wonder what went on in the dressing-room, and quite what caused him to make them. Certainly the mood of the team in the second half was distracted and dejected. A third substitution was made before the hour mark, but there was already no way back. This was as bad as 26th April 2003 when at least the North Stand was roused to sing “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”. Tonight they couldn’t even be bothered to do that.

Overall Town performance:
2/10 – Awful. Just awful.

Opposition quality:
7/10 – A top-half performance from a mid-table squad. Good for them.

5/10 – A couple of howlers, but was never helped by linesmen who should have seen better.

Match excitement:
7/10 – Southampton played some nice stuff. From an Ipswich point of view, everything about it was bad, but we’ll remember it, I’m sure, far more than the turgid one-all draws we’ve been suffering of late. So yeah, it was an interesting evening.

Opposition supporters:
7/10 – Given their situation, the distance, and it being a cold March Tuesday night, you’d have expected about six of them to turn up. But the turnout was impressive, the noise reasonable, and the partying at the end great fun to watch. He said, enviously.

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

WRIGHT 4 (2/2) no communication with the shambles of a defence in front of him, and one or two dodgy moments too

BRUCE 5 (3/2) put in the effort, but played his part in a defence which was all over the place; McAULEY 5 (2/3) was usually there or thereabouts, but didn’t seem to be able to have any inspiration to turn around the gloom and doom throughout his side; BALKESTEIN 4 (2/2) looked nervous, got caught out of position and made several mistakes; and WRIGHT 5 (3/2) achieved little, and seemed to be getting as involved in the finger-wagging as anyone.

NORRIS 4 (2/2) looked like he might have a good game at first, then got less involved before dropping out of view completely when moved to the other side in the second half; MILLER 5 (3/2) didn’t impose himself on proceedings at all; QUINN 5 (3/2) put in the usual mileage but couldn’t create anything (not that his more creative replacement could either); and CIVELLI 5 (2/3) was quiet, although he showed one or two lovely touches before his unjustified early withdrawal.

COUNAGO 3 (2/1) may as well have been taken off after we’d made our three substitutions, for all the difference it would have made; he went from useless in the first half to completely absent in the second, and I for one would be delighted if I never, ever again had to watch him taking up an Ipswich shirt which might be worn by someone who actually seems to care; and STEAD 5 (3/2) whilst being his usual ungainly self, at least made a few openings, but as ever, his skills weren’t able to produce what his brain clearly hoped for.

From the bench, WALTERS 4 (2/2) was given little opportunity but created very little either; LISBIE 4 (2/2) just kept running off down the sidelines away from goal; and GARVAN seemed to just watch the opposition pass the ball around him.

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