The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Reading 1

A result which Town and every supporter will have been delighted with, but a referee who was determined to be the centre of attention probably had more bearing on what happened than anyone else on the pitch. For the first 15 minutes Reading dominated, and it was quite clear which of the two teams was on a charge up the table. Slowly Town edged back into proceedings, but it was through commitment rather than skill, and certainly not through any coherent creative game plan, which was as absent today as it has been all season. Then Mills put in a tackle which was one of those ones which referees have decided nowadays is a straight red, and presented Town with an hour against ten men which surely was too good to pass over. For ten minutes, Reading regrouped and Town continued to play clueless, uninventive football, and you wondered if the imbalance in numbers was just going to make it a more balanced game. But McAuley escaped his marker from a corner and powered home a bullet header, a second followed just moments later apparently courtesy of Walters’ head (although it looked like a defender to me), and extraordinarily, Town went in at half-time two goals up. It was only the second time this has happened at Portman Road all season.

After the break, Reading decided to play some football to get back into the match, which was always going to give Town a good opportunity. But despite the marked improvement up front provided by Wickham’s introduction, Town never took control, and it was a pretty even half, which was more entertaining than the turgid first 45 minutes. Either side could have got the third goal; in the end it was Reading who did, but Town saw out the rest of the game comfortably.

With the numerical advantage, it was difficult to imagine much could be learned from this game, but getting past the 50-point mark was perhaps more important. It’s hard to believe that the result would have been as good against 11 men; although Town showed commitment, there was very little creativity, few moments of real skill, and a distinct lack of confidence. The supporters – and indeed the manager – have a right to expect better from these players.

Overall Town performance:
5/10 – Would surely not have won against a full-strength opposition

Opposition quality
5/10 – Never gave up, but struggled to impose themselves after the first few minutes

4/10 – Over-reacted to almost everything

Match excitement:
4/10 – In comparison with what we’ve had to suffer for much of the season, not that bad, but our expectations have been lowered so much recently there’ll be people saying this was half-decent entertainment

Opposition supporters:
6/10 – Decent turnout, and made a fair bit of noise throughout

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

MURPHY 6 (3/3) did everything expected of him, and seems to have developed a decent relationship with the defence now. Produced an extraordinary outburst at Counago at the end, bawling him out really aggressively for something I must have missed

WRIGHT 6 (3/3) got forward more than he has in some matches recently, but still can’t get a cross past the first defender; McAULEY 7 (3/4) was solid and didn’t waste his free header to change the course of the match; DELANEY 6 (3/3) also defended well, and – like McAuley – found himself bringing the ball forward further than he might have wished on occasions, mainly because he had nothing opening up ahead of him; and PETERS 7 (4/3) was probably Town’s man of the match, defending well under a lot of pressure but rarely getting forward.

WALTERS 5 (2/3) was yet again quite underwhelming and try as I might, I just cannot see what he’s bringing to the side, as has been the case almost all season; LEADBITTER 5 (3/2) was quiet and had little influence on the game; NORRIS 6 (3/3) put in a decent shift, but really needs to create more; and COLBACK 7 (4/3) worked really hard and made Town’s best chance of the second half for himself.

HEALY 4 (2/2) barely contributed anything, and the best that can be said was that he didn’t spend the half getting caught offside; MURPHY 6 (3/3) provided Town’s only semblance of a threat in the first half, but faded from the game.

From the bench, WICKHAM 6 (3/3) offered the most presence and movement of any of the Town strikers on show this afternoon, without consistently threatening; COUNAGO added nothing, but got away with a couple of pointlessly flash touches to keep the faithful happy; and MARTIN got a quick five minute run-out.

One Comment:
  1. Jim

    One of the worst performances I can recall from any Ipswich team, including in those years 1970-72.
    I cannot believe a large proportion of the team were trying.(Wickham excepted).
    I think the players decided in January to keep the team up, but not to do enough for Keane to be kept on.


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