The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 3 Sheffield Utd 0

We begin with an apology. Regular readers may have been under the impression that I believed Roy Keane to a half-decent manager who admittedly had lumbered himself with a talentless squad, but who didn’t get the breaks and probably shouldn’t have been sacked so soon. What I should have said is that Roy Keane is a talentless man-manager whose joyless attitude sapped the enthusiasm and creativity out of a half-decent squad, and unnecessarily bored the pants off thousands of season-ticket holders in the process. I’m sorry for any confusion which may have been caused.

Now, three wins in a row doesn’t instantly make this team promotion candidates. But this was probably the most entertaining run-of-the-mill league match for a couple of years, and it would appear that all that’s been needed is a change of attitude – in particular an infusion of fun. When Jewell arrived, he said the plan was just to get the team playing with smiles on their faces, and to be frank, they just seemed to be nice words. But that genuinely seems to be what was needed. The team came out and played today as if they’d just had a laugh in the dressing room, and maybe that’s exactly what had happened.

The signing of Jimmy Bullard may have been a masterstroke. Jewell obviously wanted to introduce some levity to the squad, and from what we know of him, Bullard does that job better than almost anyone in the league. Not only is he a joker, but his enthusiasm is infectious. After the second goal, he ran fifty metres to be the first in the celebrations, and after the third, he raced down the touchline in his tracksuit like Usain Bolt to join in. It’s telling that Town haven’t won three in a row since the season before last, just as Keane took over. But equally important, as far as the fans are concerned, is that Jewell has already achieved something Roy Keane never managed: eight goals scored in three matches. That’s what’s going to start getting the Suffolk public back.

Overall Town performance:
7/10 – Like the previous game, a slow and unimpressive start to the game, but by the second half, as enthusiastic and carefree a display as we’ve seen for years.

Opposition quality:
4/10 – Neat and tidy, but never really posed a serious threat.

5/10 – Some poor decisions, although mainly with the less-significant stuff, and at least he got the big calls right.

Match excitement:
7/10 – Dull first half hour, but the rest was great: three goals, including a blinder from Wickham, two sendings-off, a missed penalty …what more can you ask for?

Opposition supporters:
5/10 – For a team like Sheffield Utd to only bring 400 speaks volumes about the way they’re playing and the reputation Portman Road has for ridiculous ticket prices.

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

FULOP 6 (3/3) was rarely troubled, and did everything he needed to do well.

EDWARDS 7 (4/3) wasn’t pressured on the defensive side, and so was able to contribute a fair bit going forward; McAULEY 7 (4/3) looked solid and reliable; DELANEY 8 (4/4) was also imposing, and stole in brilliantly for the first goal; and KENNEDY 6 (3/3) was decent enough.

MARTIN 7 (4/3) was enthusiastic again, although rarely made any real telling contribution; NORRIS 7 (4/3) also worked hard; BULLARD 8 (4/4) displayed that ability which really classy players in his position have to always be in space, and as I’ve mentioned, seemed to infuse the side with a positive attitude – and wonderful to see a dead-ball taker who can spot a team-mate moving in and drop the ball onto his head; LEADBITTER 6 (4/2) has certainly upped his game recently, and was involved throughout, although the penalty was very disappointing; and WICKHAM 7 (3/4) is starting to look very exciting, now he’s getting the run he needs. His goal was one of the best seen at Portman Road for years, and one we’ll want to watch over and over again.

PRISKIN 5 (3/2) did a decent enough job just by being there, but seems to have no awareness of what’s going on, and never impressed.

HEALY, CIVELLI and SCOTLAND all got brief run-outs, with “Lord” Luca (thanks Paul) getting a tremendous response.

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