The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Slovan Liberec 0

Fans of statistical sequences will know that a home win should mean we get
stuffed in the away leg, but I’m sure we’ll all take tonight’s result
gladly. As expected, Joe Royle didn’t tinker much with the team selection
(after all, he probably doesn’t know the names of some of the players yet),
but he did opt for the flattest, plainest 4-4-2 you ever did see, presumably
because that would give him the best chance of assessing the players. I
wonder if the “European home record” was also on his mind though, because
this was a very deeply-lying 4-4-2, looking more like a goal-prevention
formation than anything else.

The players responded well, sticking tightly to their allotted positions for
most of the match. The stability of Jim in front of the defence turned out
to be a welcome compensation for Matt’s indifferent form, and although we
were fortunate that the Czechs missed two absolute sitters, overall we were
probably worth the win.

Royle got a warm reception from the crowd, and scored some valuable
diplomatic points by responding to the North Stand’s “give us a wave” chant
in the second half. All in all, a nice base to build from, and a
satisfactory if unspectacular evening all round. Sorry if this is brief, but
it was one of those games where there’s really nothing much to discuss!
Probably a good thing.

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

MARSHALL 5 (3/2): Perhaps the worst is over: a couple of excellent stops in
the first half, and a clean sheet, should do Andy’s confidence a lot of
good. Still not managing to command his area though, and got himself into
trouble by failing to come for balls which the defenders had every right to
leave to him. Only a couple of excruciating flaps.

MAKIN 5 (3/2), McGREAL 5 (3/2), BROWN 6 (3/3), HREIDARSSON 7 (4/3): The
full-backs weren’t tested particularly strongly, but of the two, Hermann was
the one who made the most of the opportunity to come forward. Chris’s
distribution was often suspect. John went off at half-time, presumably
injured? Wayne was encouragingly solid again.

AMBROSE 7 (4/3), MAGILTON 6 (3/3), HOLLAND 5 (2/3), CLAPHAM 4 (2/2): If a
new manager is to bring a new eye to the team, perhaps changing something
we’ve all been taking for granted, my bet is that Jamie will be the first
casualty. Not because he’s in a run of poor form, but in a 4-4-2 like
tonight it really makes you think to yourself: “what is he actually
contributing?” He doesn’t work well with Hermann, other than to temporarily
hold up the ball and allow an overlap, and coming forward he’s not as
inventive or as effective as Darren A, who had another good game tonight.
Meanwhile, Matt’s run of anonymity continues – if we’re to get 64 points
from 32 games, we need the old Matt back desperately. Jim was actually more
effective, and restrained himself well from making those 50-yard passes to a
player in no better a position than someone 5 yards away.

COUNAGO 5 (3/2), ARMSTRONG 7 (4/3): The strikers had a difficult time with
the midfield often lying so deep, but worked hard. Pablo continued his
infuriating technique of skinning the closest defender without any regard to
the next one, consequently getting nowhere, and created few chances. Alun
was more involved, and his centre for the goal was a peach, albeit helped by
a wonderfully signposted and measured run from Darren B which I hope the
teammate-confusing Pablo was watching.

Subs: GAARDSOE 5 (3/2) looked a lot better than his previous outing,
although he was beaten a couple of times and got a deserved yellow for
hauling his opponent back on one occasion. DARREN BENT 6 (3/3) once again
livened things up with his pace. He does the simple things best, and in a
simple formation like tonight he was the right man at the right time. took
the goal beautifully. FINIDI did little – my big worry is that after it took
Burley a year to admit defeat and realise he’d been sold a pup, Royle is
going to make the same mistake and think it reflects badly on him as a
manager if he can’t get a player as supposedly good as Finidi to show what
he can do. Don’t waste your time Joe.

The REFEREE was incredibly niggly, as is so often the case in Europe. The
CROWD 6 (3/3) didn’t seem quite as nervous as of late: perhaps we all
genuinely believe this could be a turning point. Let’s hope so.

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