The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 3 Sheffield Utd 2

Wow.

You get something truly memorable once or twice a season, and it’s the
reason why you keep coming back even when things are bad. Today was one of
those events. Dale Roberts would have been very, very proud.

The first half, to be honest, was a good hard scrap, and although we played
our part, the main chances fell to Sheffield and we only had one real
effort, Darren B’s one-on-one which he missed. In the middle of it all, one
of their guys slapped Pablo, and if he’d done what he does on every other
occasion and gone to ground, their guy would have got a red card. But oh no.
This time he decides to stay up and slap the guy back. The pillock. The ref
caught what was going on too late, and only saw the retaliation. Red card?
No question. Did Pablo let all of us down? You bet.

Most of the game still to go, and only ten men to do it with. BFJ responded
by taking off Chris Makin, who’d been continuing his tour of the defensive
positions in a 4-4-2, and brought Jermaininho on as we moved to 3-4-2 with
Darren A moved forward to join Darren B.

Despite plenty of effort, we never looked that incisive, and at half time,
Jim was also removed to make way for Marcus Bent, and a switch to 4-4-1 with
Matty back in defence. The plan looked to be to use Marcus as a target man,
and get him to hold the ball up as both Darrens swept past. Cynics suggested
we were simply going down to nine men. Cynics were wrong.

But before things could get going, we gave away another daft goal, and
despite feeling in the back of my mind that we were really up for it today,
I thought that was probably it. Even if Mrs R had said: “don’t worry, we
*always* win when there’s a minute’s silence for someone from the club”.

And so it was. To say the boys had the bit between their teeth is an
understatement. The crowd was magnificent. The attacking strategy worked a
treat. And Sheffield, bizarrely, rather than close the game down, decided to
push up even further and give us all the space we needed to counterattack.
Given the reason for the flags being at half-mast, it was simply wonderful
that it was the young guys who Dale Roberts had brought through who
dominated the scoresheet. One – two – three… fan-bloody-tastic.

Would we have managed all of this if we’d have had eleven men instead of ten
in the second half? That’s one of those questions nobody will ever be able
to answer. But somehow, I doubt if we would…

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

MARSHALL 6 (3/3): Much improved kicking, and generally did what was
necessary; although hung out to dry for the goals, I’d have liked to have
seen him get a bit closer to the shots.

WILNIS 8 (4/4), GAARDSOE 6 (3/3), HREIDARSSON 7 (4/3), MAKIN: The defence
looked a little suspect when Sheffield got the ball on the edge of the area,
giving them too much time and space (the second goal being a classic
example), but things were reasonably sound, and Fab was almost faultless,
particularly in his defensive duties. MotM and his best performance for us
this season.

HOLLAND 7 (4/3), MILLER 7 (4/3), MAGILTON 6 (4/2), AMBROSE 8 (4/4): Matt
played here, there and everywhere, and never let us down, although there
were one or two examples of uncharacteristically poor distribution again.
Miller had a lot of work to do (as did Jermaininho when he came on) in a
crowded central midfield, and consistently made his presence felt without
having any real memorable moments. Jim worked hard, but almost every move
which broke down unnecessarily seemed to be as a result of his
overambitiousness. Darren played out wide, in the centre and narrower behind
the target man as our strategy changed, but was effective in all three
roles. In one particular run he stood up to the challenging defender with a
strength he wouldn’t have shown a few months back, which was great to see.

DARREN BENT 8 (4/4), COUNAGO: Darren’s speed tore the Sheffield defence to
pieces again and again. Even when balls into space seemed wayward, he’d
appear from nowhere at lightning speed to at least have a go at getting it.
Yes, he missed a one-on-one, and much later in the game bottled out of
trying to lob the keeper, but the chances he took made up for these many
times over. Pablo just let everyone down. Enough said.

The Subs today were both thrown on out of necessity following the red card,
but both played a major part. WRIGHT 7 (4/3) got stuck in alongside Miller
and set up the first goal beautifully. And what can I say about MARCUS BENT
7 (3/4)? Where did he pull this one from? In something of an experimental
4-4-1 in the second half, we needed a performance of massive presence, and
that’s exactly what he gave. He did exactly what was asked, he was hugely
imposing, and he was every bit as much the reason for the comeback as the
two Darrens were. A Finidi-style one-off, or a new maturity? We’ll see…

The REFEREE played his part in working everyone up, by drastically
penalising some transgressions and completely ignoring others. Ironically,
his performance might have had as much of an impact in getting the team
going as anything else. But save the best for last: the CROWD 9 (4/5) were
magnificent. From the tear-inducing spontaneous applause during Rob’s
pre-match tribute to Dale Roberts to the deafening roars as the Darrens kept
surging forward and the absolutely *mental* “Tom Hark” bouncing after the
goals, it was an afternoon to savour. Neil Warnock has already commented on
how fabulous the support was, and he was right. The theory that the new
stands have sucked the life out of the place, through some bizarre feat of
architecture, was instantly disproved. We can make as loud a noise as we
ever have, if we get worked up enough. And boy did we get worked up this
afternoon.

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