The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 Stoke City 0

Twenty minutes gone, Hermann collapses like he’s been shot after an
innocuous-looking tangle with a defender, he’s pounding the turf with his
hands in absolute agony, the physio’s administering gas and air, Mrs R next
to me is being reminded of childbirth, and quite frankly I’d rather have
been anywhere else than watching this distressing scene.

The impact of the rest of the afternoon wasn’t much different, it was just
in a slower, more Chinese water torture-like manner.

Let’s face it, we were a mess. There was a lack of commitment, a lack of
urgency, a lack of cohesion and a lack of inspiration. I can’t honestly say
we’re worth a place in the playoffs at the moment, never mind a place in the
Premiership again. There’s some very questionable selection and tactics
going on; it’s almost as if Royle has done the difficult bit in shaking
things up but has begun to lose the plot when it comes to keeping his
fragile creation together.

It was back to 5-3-2, with three “proper” midfielders and the two Bents up
front. Apart from the endlessly-debatable ploy of using Hermann as a
left-winger, I guess it was a fair starting lineup. But even by the time
Hermann was stretchered off, it was clear things weren’t working, and not
just because Miller was clearly unfit and having a nightmare. So to then
bring on poor Matt R and ask him to play as a like-for-like replacement for
Hermann was simply daft. The result? The rare spectacle later on of a
substitute being substituted.

On a day when nobody seemed to be pulling their weight, with the lack of
confidence apparent even in players like Matt Holland, it was always likely
that a player who’s all skill, rather than workrate, would shine through,
and indeed Reuser did just that. But we didn’t get the breaks in an endless
succession of muddy goalmouth scrambles, and Stoke got the point they
unashamedly came for.

Simply not good enough, and it’s looking increasingly like three or four
teams are battling for one last playoff place; Wolves will have to play very
poorly to let us gain six points on them over the next eleven games.

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

MARSHALL 5 (3/2): The punches were a bit scary, but he got away with them;
the kicking was generally poor, and there was some horrible miscommunication
with his defenders at times. But in the end, he did what he had to, I guess.

WILNIS 5 (3/2), HOLLAND 5 (3/2), GAARDSOE 5 (3/2), MAKIN 7 (3/4),
HREIDARSSON: A quite nondescript performance from the back five, with only
Chris having a bit of get-up-and-go about him. Matt seemed reluctant to do
anything other than pass sideways to Thomas, who hasn’t suddenly turned into
Arnold Muhren overnight, so that tactic was never going to result in much.
Matt even uncharacteristically miscontrolled a few balls, and seemed quite
intimidated by the giant bloke who Stoke threw on towards the end. What
summed it all up was the fact that in the ninety-second minute, when Andy
Marshall should have been the only person in our half, we actually gave the
ball away to one of their players in front of our own area, passing across
the defence as if we didn’t have a care in the world.

WRIGHT 5 (3/2), MILLER, MAGILTON 4 (2/2): For a while, Jermaininho was
terrific, popping up in support of every player in trouble, and creating
some good space for himself in a progressive role. But he faded as the game
went on, both in influence and effectiveness. Jim was just terrible
throughout. And Miller clearly shouldn’t have been playing. And indeed
wasn’t, for long.

Marcus BENT 4 (2/2), Darren BENT 6 (3/3): Marcus was back to his old ways,
making no attempt to get balls that weren’t perfectly to his liking, and
just occasionally, tantalisingly, showing what a great player he could be if
he’d get stuck in for ninety minutes per game instead of ninety seconds.
Didn’t have a decent effort on goal all afternoon, which is unforgivable for
a big centre-forward against a mediocre defence. Darren was our most
effective player for the first half, although he was as much a part as
anyone else of our doomed attempts to pass the ball into the net instead of
just b****y well shooting. Then guess what? BFJ stuck him out on that
right-wing position where he was so wasted the other week, and exactly the
same thing happened again: we almost forgot he was playing. Stoke must have
loved that.

The Subs played more of a part than normal, with two on inside half an hour,
and one subsequently going off himself. RICHARDS was like a fish out of
water in Hermann’s position and really didn’t get involved as much as he (or
we) would have liked. REUSER 7 (3/4) looked as ponderous as ever, but worked
hard in his own way, and put in centres which were usually a class above
anything we’ve seen from anyone else this season. How nobody got on the end
of one of them I just don’t know. He’s got to be the most creative player we
have at the moment, and deserves more involvement. NAYLOR worked hard (who’d
expect anything else?) but his one decent effort in half an hour – whilst a
lot better than Marcus Bent’s contribution – still wasn’t good enough,
especially as his arrival (literally) sidelined Darren Bent.

The REFEREE was dreadful, bottling out of a clear arm-grab inside the area
by Crossley on Hermann, making a whole string of inexplicable decisions, and
generally ensuring there was no flow to the game. The CROWD 5 (3/2) was
subdued and frustrated. Time’s running out.

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