The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Grimsby 2

If you thought the future of the club hangs on the results between now and
May, think again. At the Fans Forum just a couple of hours before the match,
the Chief Executive suggested that it actually hangs on the next half-dozen
games (see separate report for the reason why), and for me at least, that
was a frightening revelation. If we do badly in the next few matches, we may
actually not be given the chance to recover to make the playoffs.

Whilst I suspect that’s something most fans haven’t realised (I certainly
hadn’t), surely the players must know the situation. So to see such a
disjointed and unspirited performance was shattering. We needed six points
this week, and we got one.

It would be easy to blame it on the pressure, but the team have to go out
with the best possible chance of showing what they can do, and it has to be
said, the manager didn’t give them that chance today. Why he decided on
Wednesday night to change the winning formula he’d developed at the heart of
the team, nobody knows. But after seeing it fail so miserably then, to start
off again today with the same selection and formation (Holland back in
midfield getting in the way of Magilton, and the hopelessly out-of-sorts
McGreal at the back) was just unforgivable, and I can’t think of any excuse.
It took 45 minutes, and a waste of two substitutions, to get things right,
and by then nerves, frustration, irritation and even panic was running
through the side.

Grimsby did what they always do, and simply closed us down and defended in
numbers. Do some clubs have it written into their constitution that they
have to play in a certain way, even as their squads and managers change? And
we did what we always do against this sort of opposition, which is look
devoid of ideas. It was clear early on in the match that Marcus Bent wasn’t
going to get any joy (either in the air or through strength) out of their
central defence, which was solid as a rock and the only way through would be
speed. So what happens? Instead of Darren Bent being given a go in the
centre, he gets played wider and wider until, for the last twenty minutes,
he seemed to be attached to the right touchline by a six-inch piece of

When things go wrong, I invariably pin it on the players first. But today
the manager was the real problem. As far as the course of the match went,
there’s nothing really to report. It was uneventful, frustrating and very,
very forgettable.

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

PULLEN 4 (2/2): I feel mean, but I’d only have given Marshall the same mark
for this display: 2 out of 5 because he was nervous, and 2 out of 5 because
of his mistakes on both goals. But why was he left so exposed in the first
place? In the second half, when we were back to our regular formation, he
didn’t have a shot to save. Against totally unadventurous opposition, he
shouldn’t have had any in the first half either.

WILNIS 5 (3/2), McGREAL 4 (2/2), GAARDSOE 5 (3/2), MAKIN 4 (2/2): even
poorer than Wednesday night, with McGreal again looking way off the pace.
The laboured way in which he chopped one of their players down at one point
– not malicious, just totally incompetent – said everything. Makin was just
as bad for most of the first half, getting skinned twice, and being caught
way out of position on several occasions.

HOLLAND 7 (4/3), MILLER 4 (2/2), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), AMBROSE 5 (3/2): A real
mess in the first half, with too many players in too small an area, but
precisely the opposite in the second half, when the midfield was left to
Miller and sub Jermaininho. With Wright playing his conventional game in
front of the defence, we needed a huge 45 minutes from Miller, who was our
sole progressive central midfielder, but his mind seemed to be elsewhere.
Matt worked his socks off again, even if the lethargic movement in front of
him meant he frustratingly had to keep playing square balls.

DARREN BENT 6 (4/2), MARCUS BENT 5 (3/2): Darren was always willing, but why
he was rigidly tied to that touchline when we needed him in the middle, I
just don’t know. When he did pop up in the box, the results were telling.
Marcus got no change at all from the Grimsby defence, although to his credit
he never gave up as he would have done as recently as a month ago. All he
achieved was to tie up their main men, but with nothing going on around him
to take advantage of that, it was wasted.

Subs: WRIGHT 6 (3/3) had another solid game, always making himself available
behind players moving forward to give them the fallback option, an
often-underappreciated contribution. NAYLOR 4 (3/1) ran around a fair bit,
but with some of the most nondescript results I can ever remember seeing
from a home striker: apart from a glaring miss, I can’t think of anything he
did at all, and indeed, I’m sure he went a full 20 minutes without touching
the ball at one stage. So the service was goddamn awful, but that’s no
excuse really. REUSER looked very laboured again, but did put more telling
balls into the box in his ten minutes than Ambrose had done in the previous
eighty, not that that was a big ask.

The REFEREE was good, perhaps letting a bit too much go uncarded, but at
least that spared McGreal’s disciplinary record. The CROWD 6 (3/3) took a
while to get going, but gave the team some pretty decent backing once they
did. However, as events unfolded I think they had every right to get
irritated, and they did.

Now we need a big result at Norwich, and we’ll really find out if the
players are up for things or not. it shouldn’t have come to this.

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