The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 0 Leicester City 0

New season, new (effectively) manager, new signings, and a new formation for the Portman Road faithful. But by 4.45pm things had changed substantially, and some of what we were watching seemed eerily reminiscent of this time last season, or the season before. Still, this made a change from Marks & Spencer management (“because there is no Plan B”), which bodes well for fickle fans like… well, all of us really.

After an emotional minute’s applause for Sir Bobby (RIP), Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Wrighty returning as full-back to replace Alex Bruce, new boy Colin Healy sitting in front of the back four, and the biggest change of all from last season, a rookie central midfield pairing of Jaime Peters and Liam Trotter. Lee Martin at left wing was the other Town home league debutant.

Things didn’t turn out to be as exciting as the lineup suggested they might be. It’s hard to say precisely why, but there didn’t seem to be the movement going forward in the middle, and although the wingers worked hard, there was never going to be any way past Leicester’s two big centre-halves from crosses. The long diagonal ball to Jon Walters was much in evidence, and he did reasonably well with it, but the best forward moves looked like they’d come from the few occasions when Jaime Peters went off on a mazy dribble. Meanwhile, the defence was just about adequate, but you have to say that if Leicester had had Clinton Morrison up front, Town may well have found themselves two down before half-time again.

Jon Stead made some intelligent space as usual, but he was never going to have any luck when his main supply was coming from the wings, and it was refreshing to see an Ipswich manager acknowledge this early on with a double half-time substitution. Surprisingly, the formation was dramatically reshuffled too, with Healy withdrawn from the midfield and Wickham and Priskin replacing Stead. However, Town still failed to show a cutting edge, with the passing game being particularly absent, at least until Garvan came on to replace Martin, with Peters being pushed out wide. The last 20 minutes were all Town, but chances were rare, and with Peters picking up an injury, Town played the last part of the match with ten men.

Overall Town performance:
5/10 – Disappointing with so much expectation riding on the game

Opposition quality:
5/10 – Made to look better than they were by Town’s lacklustre first half display

Referee:
4/10 – Didn’t seem to want to allow any physical contact, but redeemed himself partially by producing two yellow cards for time-wasting late on

Match excitement:
4/10 – Very little to get anyone going

Opposition supporters:
5/10 – Decent numbers, but added little to the proceedings

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

WRIGHT 6 (3/3) did what he had to do, without being tested too much

WRIGHT 6 (3/3) took a while to start going forward, but looked as useful on the few occasions when he did; McAULEY 6 (4/2) and BALKESTEIN 5 (3/2) did just about well enough individually, but didn’t look like the best of partnerships, although McAuley seemed to be working hard at his captain’s role; and DELANEY 5 (3/2) looked OK, but failed to make the most of having by far the most space of any Town player going forward and gave the ball away far too often.

HEALY 5 (3/2) was decent enough in front of the defence, but didn’t have enough going on in front of him to get the play going; WALTERS 6 (3/3) played the target man role well enough but was isolated; TROTTER 5 (3/2) really didn’t control the game in the way his physical presence suggests he might, and didn’t move the ball around as sweetly as Garvan does in that position; PETERS 7 (3/4) looked surprisingly comfortable in a central role, and showed a lot of promise (and no little skill), but needed to show more confidence and involvement; and although MARTIN 5 (2/3) only hovered around the periphery, he occasionally made some space and looked a potential threat.

STEAD 5 (3/2) made some intelligent movement as usual, but still needs to need a little too much time and space to do anything, and has never looked suited to the lone striker role.

From the bench, WICKHAM 6 (4/2) worked hard and had the crowd behind him, but didn’t provide the cutting edge either, and nor did PRISKIN 5 (3/2). Both were disappointing. GARVAN started moving the ball around better than anyone else in blue, but more was needed up front if that was going to have any effect.

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