The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 6 Leicester City 1

A belated start to the season for those of us who weren’t in the small but
merry band at Walsall, and who couldn’t go to Luxembourg either. Almost the
entire division had played three matches and we hadn’t seen a ball kicked
yet. Still, it was worth waiting for.

A real oddity this one, a bit like Rotherham must have felt against
Millwall. “Even” at this level you don’t expect the opposition to just
collapse like that. Did six-one flatter us? You bet. Yet Leicester deserved
to go down by five goals, and if the game had gone on another twenty minutes
they’d have gone down by ten, no question.

For 45 minutes we were up against a relatively challenging side and not
playing particularly well ourselves. After the break, for a few minutes, it
looked like more of the same. Then suddenly we were playing The Red Lion
Sunday Casuals Third XI. It was almost embarrassing. When we brought Finidi
on, some of their defenders looked terrified. Just what happened? How could
a team which was in the Premiership last year be reduced to such gibbering
wrecks …for seemingly no reason (they’d played a reasonable first half,
after all)?

They say Millwall went to pieces on the opening day because the situation at
their club and the way it’s “looking after” its players (or not) has
devastated their team spirit. Maybe the same’s happened at Leicester. They
say Izzet, Elliott and Scowie are all on their way this week (Izzet to
Villa, Matt-watchers). That might explain why heads dropped, but doesn’t
give a reason for them doing so in the first place, after 50 minutes.
Perhaps the unusual situation of a side having used up all its subs well
before half-time was to blame. At least two of the subs were hopeless, and
maybe it was all the other eight or nine could do to keep things steady for
twenty minutes, after which they cracked. I don’t know. And guess what?
Despite having spent a paragraph on it, I just don’t care!

We were quite ordinary in the first half. God knows what formation we were
supposed to be playing. 5-3-2? Maybe. But what was happening down the left?
Venus, Clapham *and* Ambrose? Talk about weight of numbers. Trouble is, when
Veno got forward (which he did) and Ambrose hung back to meet him (which he
also did, because his game is taking the ball forward, silly), the only
reason they didn’t run into each other was because they both ran into Jamie.

Meanwhile, although Ambrose knew instinctively where Darren Bent was going,
Bent was playing so wide out the other side that they only linked up about
three times. For the rest of the half, they had Stewart between them, and
neither of them had any idea what he was doing. For 45 minutes we moved the
ball forward reasonably enough, but were rarely incisive in the box. What
did you expect, a change from last season? It was deja-vu all over again.

Despite this, we were perhaps unfortunate to go in level, but if the luck
had been with Leicester we could have gone in 2-1 down. Izzet had caused all
sorts of problems, and it was a massive stroke of luck he had to go off.
Funnily enough, had we gone in 1-0 or 2-1 up, they might have folded even
earlier, and we’d have hit eight or nine, no question. On such small things
do these things turn.

In the second half, we got the tactics right, despite it being by moving to
a Mike Bassett-esque 3-4-2-1 formation. Everyone suddenly seemed to be in
the right place. Leicester just stared and watched as we pinged it around,
and on more than one occasion we failed to score because we had so many
players in position to tap it in that whoever had the ball’s brain shut down
faced with so many choices.

I’m not sure that formation will get us five goals every half, every week.
In fact I’m still cynical enough to think we’re more likely to see
performances as uninspiring as the first half as a rule this year. But it
was good to see things so well and truly sorted out at half time. And it was
great to see us punish a truly appalling opposition (for the last 40
minutes) so ruthlessly. Reminded me of a certain bunch of Scousers in red
doing it to us last year.

Some ratings:
(1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement)

MARSHALL 4 (2/2): One – or may be two – half decent saves do not make up for
the howlers. Andy had a stinker. Let in a goal as soft as Sereni’s in
Helsingborg, totally lost his bearings when coming for crosses on more than
one occasion, and his kicking was distinctly average. I feel Jack may have a
few words to say here.

GAARDSOE 6 (3/3), HREIDARSSON 8 (4/4), VENUS 6 (3/3): Formed a pretty good
unit, with perhaps only the odd bit of overconfidence, surprisingly,
blotting the copybook. Hermann got the bit between his teeth big style as
the game went on, and was inspirational.

WRIGHT 5 (3/2), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), HOLLAND 6 (3/3), CLAPHAM 6 (3/3):
Reasonably solid performances, particularly in the second half. Jermaininho
does not an even passable full-back make, and thank goodness Brian Deane
took 75 minutes to realise if he went out a bit wider he’d be challenging
the mighty Wright aerial power rather than Hermann. Once he moved out we
looked hideously exposed, but by then the game was over. Moving forward
though, Jermaine was fine. Jamie didn’t know what he was supposed to do in
the first half, but again, slipped into place for the second half. Jim was
too often overambitious, but usually in the right place, and Matt seemed a
little more subdued than usual, although you can’t argue with two goals,
especially the coolness of his first one.

BENT 6 (4/2), AMBROSE 7 (4/3): Eager beavers throughout, although Darren B
missed three – count ’em – sitters, and only the last one was at a point in
the game where it didn’t matter any more. Twice Darren A went on lovely
runs, but passed the ball unnecessarily at the end, almost as if he felt it
was his duty to set up Stewart rather than upstage him. But things are still
looking good.

STEWART 6 (4/2): Almost as inexplicably as he forgot how to control the ball
last season, he’s remembered again. Praise be. Worked hard enough throughout
that it came as a surprise to realise that he hardly had an effort on goal
all afternoon. Looked so unconfident taking the penalty that you could
visibly see the smile broadening on Walker’s face as he stepped up. Needless
to say, Walker didn’t even need to move before the ball was kicked, as
Stewart changed and rechanged his mind ten times in three steps. Horrible to

Subs: FINIDI was made to look real class by a cowering Leicester defence.
Not sure what we can learn from this, but he didn’t waste his opportunity!
MILLER didn’t have much to do as by the time he came on, it was more a case
of watching our forwards politely discuss whose turn it was to score next.
But save the shock of the afternoon until last: COUNAGO scored. As he
trotted on, I groaned and said to Mrs R “if he doesn’t score against this
lot, he never will”, assuming he’d just spend ten minutes on his backside as
usual, but hold the back page, he’s bulked up a bit, he’s staying on his
feet, and… good grief, he’s scored. “Let’s hope it doesn’t take another
year until his next one!”, I quipped. It was about ten seconds. Maybe this
season is going to hold more surprises than we thought.

The REFEREE was awful, just awful. He totally bottled it by not sending the
already-booked Dickov off for pushing Jamie, he totally bottled it by not
awarding a penalty after Stewart was clearly tripped, and he totally bottled
it by not sending off the guy who grabbed Pablo and then tried to headbutt
him. I hope this ain’t a sign of refereeing standards to come in Division
One. But I hope the score is a sign of things to come, mmm yes.

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