The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 2 Wolves 4

I’ve had several people in the past suggest I’m a bit mean with my ratings,
and sometimes a bit doom-and-gloomy with my writeups, so this one might
surprise a few people. Along with everyone around me, including a friend
who’s a Wolves season-ticket holder who’d come along, I genuinely thought we
were tremendous in the first half (although admittedly poor in the second).
So I was stunned after the match when I met up with friends and family who
were in the Cobbold and the North, who without exception couldn’t understand
how I could claim we were anything other than “dull” or “average” even in
the first half. But that’s the beauty of football I suppose.

Whatever the case, it was an immaculate smash-and-grab by Wolves, who were
quite ordinary and never really took the game to us much. Even my
Wolves-supporting friend said “we didn’t win that one, you simply threw it
in our direction very forcefully, thanks”.

Despite some robust play, the first half was all Ipswich, and we missed
three absolute sitters: Miller, who should have got a low shot on target;
Ambrose, who turned and shot wide from 10m with all the time in the world;
and worst of all Darren Bent, who missed a far-post header from about 2m
out. We’d have been worth a two- or three-goal lead at half-time too. My
Wolves mate said that Marcus Bent’s 45 minutes had been the most terrifying
he’d seen from any striker all season, that Darren Bent had a fabulous half,
and that he’d identified Wolves’ only chance of staying in the game as “that
well-dodgy looking keeper of yours”. Despite the misses, we were well
satisfied.

But the sparkle drained away quickly in the second half, Wolves equalised,
and the urgency and fluidity just evaporated. BFJ than made an inexplicably
poor substitution: Darren A, who presumably was suffering from an early
knock, made way for Counago. Now, the formation until that point had been
4-4-2/4-3-3, with Darren A wide out left and three central midfielders
(Miller, Holland and Magilton) playing very narrow and constantly getting in
each others’ way. When Counago replaced Darren A, he went fairly narrow too,
getting in Marcus Bent’s way and leaving absolutely nobody out wide on the
left in front of an isolated-looking Chris Makin. We were totally out of
shape by this time.

As we pressed forward, and with gaps everywhere (yes! Just to leave us even
more exposed, BFJ then took Makin off too!), Wolves got another couple of
breakaways which they converted into goals with the minimum of fuss. It was
all very depressing. Not a good night for the manager, whose formation
turned out to be a mistake, and who compounded the errors with his
substitutions. Not a good night for the captain, who let things go to pieces
around him. And not a good night for a big crowd, who had a depressing trip
home (although in our case, a lot to disagree about).

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

MARSHALL 4 (2/2): Back to his hesitant worst, not making any semblance of
commanding his box, and not getting near any of Wolves’ efforts.

WILNIS 6 (3/4), McGREAL 4 (2/2), GAARDSOE 6 (3/3), MAKIN 5 (2/3): The line
looked very shaky all night, with McGreal in particular seeming to be the
weakest link. At best the communication was poor, at worst they were
panicking. Not impressive at all.

HOLLAND 5 (3/2), MILLER 5 (2/3), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), AMBROSE 7 (3/4): The
three central midfielders just seemed to get in each others’ way all night,
with the result that Miller got crowded out more often than not. Holland’s
distribution was often frustratingly poor, and Magilton’s was (as ever)
overambitious again and again, with flicked balls here and there but rarely
into decent space.

DARREN BENT 7 (4/3), MARCUS BENT 7 (3/4): Marcus had as good a first 45
minutes as I can remember seeing him have for us, working his socks off, and
easily bettering Wolves’ classiest defender. The workrate declined in the
second half, and his effectiveness with it, otherwise he’d have been well
worth an 8. Darren B worked hard all game, but very little came his way as
the match wore on.

Subs: COUNAGO did very little. REUSER put in a couple of good centres in his
short run-out, but looked a little out of shape …is it me, or does anyone
else think he’s put a little bit too much weight on?

The REFEREE was OK, but missed a terrible advantage in the first half,
hauling us back for a free kick when Darren B was in a great position. But
wouldn’t you know it, we scored from the free-kick. Then he bottled it in
the second half by not giving a second yellow to one of their guys for
grabbing Gaardsoe around the neck: the same player promptly stuck in Wolves’
equaliser. The CROWD 7 (3/4) was big (nearly 28,000) and although not as
noisy as in the last game, has definitely improved on pre-Christmas.

And the last word to my Wolves-supporting mate: “I just can’t believe you
lot. You play some absolutely beautiful football, stuff we only ever dream
about seeing at the Molineux, and you hardly show any appreciation. Then a
defence-splitting pass at the end of the move doesn’t quite make it, and
you’re all moaning. You want to experience what we’ve had to put up with
week-in week-out for the last sixteen-odd years! Get a grip! For 45 minutes
you played some fabulous football!”

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