The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 3

One of those games where I’ve had to give myself 24 hours to compose myself before writing anything. That’s eight points from ten home games now, and the only worse ten-game run Portman Road has seen in this division since reaching it for the first time was back when a certain Mr Duncan was manager; alarmingly, that’s *Scott* Duncan, not John, and it was back in 1954. The second half of this season, even despite some remarkable away results, has been just about relegation form, suggesting that without some major changes, next season might be the end of an unbroken 52-year run in the top two divisions. And on this display, even most League One clubs would fancy a trip to Gift Shop Portman Road.

Of course the buck stops with Jim Magilton, and it’s possible that it’s even his fault. But there were professional footballers out there who seemed to have forgotten the basics of passing and movement, and others who just seemed to be hiding – and is that really Jim’s fault? I don’t know. How can promising youngsters like Owen Garvan or old heads like Ivan Campo start playing like clueless pub players? Why would players looking to develop their careers like Shumulikoski decide to simply let the game pass them by? Can a manager trying his hardest, however much he’s under pressure, cause that?

The obvious match comparison is with the abject surrender to Southampton a month ago, but in many ways this was worse. Southampton realised how disorganised and unconfident Town were, and used the opportunity to play some decent football. Doncaster didn’t even have to bother to raise their game to that level to comfortably walk off with the points.

In the first half, Town played something like the old Terry Venables “Christmas Tree” 4-3-2-1 formation, and put just two moves together passing on the ground. One resulted in a goal, the other hit the post. For the rest of the time, Campo got the ball, wandered past Shumi and pointlessly hoofed the ball forward to the fairy on the top of the tree, whose control on the ground was as dreadful as his non-existent aerial threat always has been. Pablo’s support act up front didn’t make up for this either, because neither of them seemed interested. The second half was much the same, with the added spanners in the works of rapidly-draining confidence and an increasingly hostile crowd.

I needn’t say any more – it was just rubbish. The formation (and of course the midfield) was shuffled around, which as ever just proved counter-productive, as it meant nobody knew where anybody else was, in addition to the real problem of nobody seeming to look like they knew what to do. I’ve no idea if a new manager can salvage anything from this shambles (surely there’s some talent in there, isn’t there?) or whether Marcus Evans’ money has just been poured down the drain and a new start needs to be made at all levels. The odd uncharacteristic inspired away performance suggests that there really are several million pounds’ worth of footballers in the squad, but what causes them to play as badly as this, I really can’t say.

Overall Town performance:
2/10 – Just about as uninspired as I can ever recall (although I will admit I wasn’t there when Town lost seven out of nine home games at the start of 1954.

Opposition quality:
5/10 – Mid-lower table stuff, nothing more.

Referee:
6/10 – I think most of us were too absorbed in Town’s capitulation to notice him, but kudos for yellow-carding the Doncaster player’s hilariously bad falling over.

Match excitement:
3/10 – One uninspiring side, one self-destructing one. What do you think?

Opposition supporters:
7/10 – Seemed to be having a great time, and good for them. Joined in the general “Magilton out” home crowd noise in the second half with a raucous “sacked in the morning…”

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

WRIGHT 4 (2/2) must – as capain – take some of the blame for the chaos, and all three goals were rather soft, to say the least.

WRIGHT 5 (3/2) was actually quite impressive going forward, but played a part in the mess for at least one of the second-half goals; CAMPO 3 (2/1) had presence, as usual, but was simply clueless when it came to building from the back, and made a right idiot of himself for Doncaster’s second; BALKESTEIN 4 (2/2) did seem to be out of his depth, but it can’t help when the experienced colleagues either side of you seem to have no confidence; and THATCHER 5 (3/2) although venturing forward more than usual (which isn’t saying much), simply completed a generally lethargic and nervous back four.

NORRIS 5 (3/2) may just have been the pick of the team, which isn’t saying much, but more for his periodic industriousness than any real achievement – and he was only asked to play in three different positions this week, that was because there was only a three-man midfield for most of the time he was on; SHUMULIKOSKI 4 (2/2) was just completely absent for the whole hour he played, which is some achievement in a central midfield role; and GARVAN 4 (2/2) has somehow lost his control, his workrate, and possibly even his confidence, which is an absolute tragedy that needs to be addressed before it’s too late.

DOS SANTOS 3 (1/2) didn’t seem remotely interested, not in getting into decent positions, or being positive when he actually got the ball; and WALTERS 4 (2/2) was lethargic and ineffective. Finally, COUNAGO 4 (2/2) at least had the excuse of being played in a position to which he is totally unsuited (lone front man asked to receive long high balls), but the fact is, he’s no longer good enough for this level – if he ever was – and he’s had his chance. Enough.

From the bench, WICKHAM’s debut was the single plus point of the afternoon; he didn’t do much, but he barely got the chance, with the rest of the team creating nothing he could work with; and somehow QUINN and LISBIE managed to make zero impact on the game in 15 minutes.

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