The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Bristol City 0

Having missed the first home game of the season, my most recent experiences at Portman Road had been the appalling two 3/10 performances at the end of last year which will have helped make up the minds of the 2,000 or so supporters who decided not to renew their season tickets. To be honest, nothing really happened in the summer to suggest Town would start this campaign any differently, including the pre-season matches. But there’s a completely unexpected fluency, confidence and optimism running through the side which it’s hard to account for, so let’s just enjoy it while we can. It’s terrific to see.

Bristol City were supposed to be a lot better than they have been, and are certainly in need of some ideas. On occasions in the middle part of the match, it looked like they were wasting time, but in truth, the player on the ball just didn’t seem to know what to do next. That said, they made themselves chances throughout the match, and we will see worse sides here. But Town were easily the better team, and were unlucky that only two David James mistakes made the difference (although both then required excellent finishing). If the three times Town had rattled the opposition crossbar had turned out more fortunately, the position in the table would look even better tonight.

The most obvious difference since last season is the defensive midfield position and switch to a 4-3-3 (or probably more accurately 4-1-2-3) formation, used so devastatingly by Mourinho’s Chelsea (OK, I’m getting carried away here). This became less clearly defined in the second half, when things switched to 4-4-2, albeit not a particularly identifiably flat one. I suspect some of the clearout of players has been as much due to attitude as anything. And it’s been a much bigger clearout than has been widely acknowledged: Richard Wright, David Wright, Alex Bruce, Owen Garvan, Pablo Couñago, Jon Stead, Pim Balkestein, Jon Walters and Lee Martin had played almost 1,300 games between them for the club, compared to under 400 in total for the whole of Town’s starting lineup today. The Town player on show today with the most appearances was (rather surprisingly to me) Jaime Peters, with considerably fewer than nearly all of those players who’d been moved on. This really is Roy Keane’s team now. Let’s hope the North Stand is still chanting his name in May.

Overall Town performance:
7/10 – Assured, mature and – above all – consistent

Opposition quality
5/10 – Better than their results so far suggest, but won’t challenge on this form

7/10 – An easy game to officiate, and he didn’t make a mess of it (as some would)

Match excitement:
7/10 – Decent number of chances at both ends, with Town constantly threatening to score and only a short quiet period

Opposition supporters:
3/10 – Average turnout, but below-average noise

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

FULOP 6 (3/3) had only routine saves to make, but was well in control and worked well as part of a coherent defensive unit

PETERS 7 (4/3) doesn’t look like (and isn’t) a natural defender, but demonstrated again that pace, awareness and commitment can comfortably make up for that, even if that concentration on not being caught out means he doesn’t get forward much; McAULEY 6 (3/3) and SMITH 6 (3/3) look like a solid pairing who can take anything that’s thrown at them from opposition of this calibre; and O’DEA 6 (3/3) put in a competent shift.

LEADBITTER 8 (4/4) seems to have been asked to work much harder with the revised formation, but has risen to the challenge and kept things moving throughout; HYAM 7 (4/3) has an unglamorous role and hardly seems noticeable at times, and yet he seems to be playing a crucial part; and NORRIS 8 (4/4) played the sort of ‘box to box’ game we were always told he could offer, and (suspensions apart) will surely be critical to Town’s fortunes this year.

EDWARDS 7 (4/3) bombed up and down the line offering a lot of opportunities, and was as impressive as I’ve ever seen him; SCOTLAND 7 (3/4) showed some lovely touches and certainly hinted that he could be a prolific scorer if things go right, especially as he looks a little off the pace and may have more to come; and PRISKIN 6 (3/3) looked much more of an interesting prospect, perhaps not so much in the first half when he was a little lost playing wider, but certainly in the second half when brought into a more central attacking role.

From the bench, O’CONNOR and MURRAY had only a few minutes to allow Hyam and Scotland to receive some confidence-boosting applause as they departed.

  1. Dave Bezant

    Chris, I always enjoy your reports. I share your opinion that Roy is putting his own stamp on things this season in a very positive manner and you make an excellent point about the turnover of playing staff.
    Living in Ontario I am most interested in the progress of Jaime Peters. As you point out, he’s one of our old timers now, although I think that McAuley has made more apprearnces than Peters.
    I have a good feeling about this season. Keep up the good work.
    Dave Bezant (Tractor Beezer)

  2. chris

    Thanks Dave.

    McAuley has made 85 starts and 1 substitute appearance (total 86), Peters 57 starts and 31 substitute appearances (total 88).

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