The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Blackpool 2

The cynics in the crowd were remarking at half time that this wasn’t going to plan for Paul Jewell at all – he’d finally conceded to what the fans had been asking for all season, with young players through the heart of the team, and surely Town were supposed to be on the wrong end of a thumping by now, to prove he’d been right to stick with his journeymen after all. But completely the opposite was happening: Town were one up against one of the better teams in the division, playing with more enthusiasm than Portman Road had seen for months, if not years. And the crowd were showing they really did mean what they’d been saying – this was what they wanted to see, and they gave the team the support to prove it.

Let’s not gloss over the weaknesses – once Blackpool got more urgent, and started to attack Town more directly, the defensive nervousness and lack of on-field organisation was there for all to see. The moment Kevin Phillips came on, you felt that two goals was never going to be enough, and inevitably he made one, scored one and missed a one-on-one which you’d have staked your house on him putting away. But by then, we’d seen enough that Town would have been applauded off whatever the result. Regular supporters (and that’s what we’re down to nowadays) don’t care about the final score half as much as they care about the effort.

Compared to the Forest disgrace, Jewell had replaced Delaney and Ingimarsson with Sonko and Smith; Bowyer and Leadbitter with Hyam and Drury; and JET with Scotland as a better choice of lone striker. Changes right through the middle, but more importantly this wasn’t the awful 4-5-1 of that game, it was a fluid formation with JET and Martin given the initiative to partner Scotland or go wide. And the players responded to the responsibility, with both Hyam and Drury bringing the crowd to their feet with their commitment in the first half. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the afternoon, apart from the equaliser, was Jewell’s conservative response to Blackpool’s attempt to get back into the game: I hope Carson was injured, otherwise I fear for Jewell’s sanity in removing him, but even if he was, to end up playing 4-5-1 with Priskin up front seemed a deflating way to end a terrific game of football.

Overall Town performance:
7/10 – I know that it wasn’t a world-beating display, but after the rubbish we’ve been putting up with over most of the past year, this was heartwarming stuff.

Opposition quality:
7/10 – Definitely a quality team, with substitutes we’d die for.

4/10 – Totally inconsistent in his yellow card policy.

Match excitement:
8/10 – Chances galore at both ends, and hardly a chance to catch breath.

Opposition supporters:
6/10 – Decent turnout, but not much to say for themselves.

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

McCARTHY 6 (3/3) looks very confident, particularly in the air, although his distribution leaves something to be desired. A fourth goalkeeper of the season, with no injuries, does seem a symptom of something more deeply worrying though.

EDWARDS 5 (3/2) had a quiet match, and got the run-around a bit, restricting his forward play; SONKO 5 (2/3) had some scary moments, but got away with them in the main, as comedy legend defenders usually do, although he doesn’t look like a captain; SMITH 6 (3/3) put in an encouraging display, but will need to work on the partnership with Sonko; and CRESSWELL 6 (3/3) did well under a lot of pressure.

HYAM 7 (4/3) did his unglamorous job with dedication and concentration, just as he did when first given a chance, and you wonder what might have been had he not spent the last year or more in the wilderness; DRURY 7 (4/3) worked just as hard, and completed a midfield pairing which made the regulars in those positions look very ordinary; and CARSON 7 (4/3) got his head down and played his part with commitment and skill.

MARTIN 7 (4/3) had another excellent game, making loads of openings and keeping involved throughout; EMMANUEL-THOMAS 7 (3/4) would probably have been a clear man-of-the match if he’d been allowed to continue in his first-half role throughout, instead of being pushed right out to the wing and marginalised; at times, his touches and skill were breathtaking, and you felt that eventually one of his dazzling runs would end up with him finding himself right in front of the goal; and although SCOTLAND 6 (4/2) wasn’t the deadly finishing touch we needed, he certainly gave it his all.

Substitutes: PRISKIN wasn’t particularly impressive, and BULLARD couldn’t really add anything to what had gone before.

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