The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 2 Brighton 2

A third home draw against a bottom-of-the-table club in four weeks, and I
guess it’s bye-bye to the playoffs now, if only because all four clubs above
us are playing so well.

I guess the most surprising thing about this scoreline was how few of us
predicted it beforehand. In retrospect, what on earth possessed us to even
think we might beat Brighton? What is it about our team which results in
them being able to beat excellent sides like Reading, then failing to beat
desperately ordinary opposition like this? Same pitch, same lineup, same
week. It can only be that this rabble we have representing us at the moment
will only play when they’re made to do so by the opposition, and for that
they should be ashamed.

We can’t even trot out the tired old explanation that (as with Stoke) “the
opposition have found us out, and they know that if they mark us tightly and
defend in numbers, they’ll stop us playing”. Because Brighton didn’t do that
at all: they played an open game and allowed us to do the same. They were
second-best throughout, but played with a determination and spirit that most
of our side can only dream of. We should have been three up by half-time,
and probably deserved to be, but whilst our morale flagged, Brighton never
gave up for a second. Good luck to them.

Funnily enough, there were some fine individual performances, but there was
just no coherence, and our defending was as generous to the opposition as
ever. How many times this season have we seen an opposing player run into
the corner of the Churchmans/Cobbold stands, put in a cross with ease, and
watch as a totally unmarked colleague in the centre taps it home? Why is it
always that corner? Because at least once a game one or more of our
full-backs goes walkabout, and it’s always in the second half when we’re
defending that end. And then no matter who’s in the centre-back position,
they fail to cover. Compare and contrast to the first half today, at the
same end, when Bent, Counago and Holland *all* got on the end of fine
centres only to have the ball taken off their feet by close defending.

As we mentioned earlier on the list, if the club is to reduce its wage bill
by 80% as planned, almost all of the team from the Premiership years will be
on their way in the next few months (my guess is there’ll be offers we can’t
refuse for half a dozen, and then three or four more will be offloaded in
order to pay off the remaining three or four). The sales of Hermann and
Darren A yesterday shows that the administrators have decided the creditors
are going to be gunning for as much as they can get. We might have expected
that to have brought it home to the team just how serious the situation is,
but if it did, the result was – sadly – not to galvanise them into action.
In fact, there was an air of resignation about the second half which
indicated that precisely the opposite effect might have happened.

I can’t believe I’m so depressed, with the team being 7th in the table, and
despite seeing at least one uplifting individual performance this afternoon.
We’ll probably get magnificent results against Pompey and Forest, but I
can’t see us getting much change out of Gillingham, Wimbledon and Derby, can

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

MARSHALL 6 (3/3): Little to do, but might have been more decisive on
occasions. Despite one or two cringeworthy clearances, his distribution was
more confident. The long slog back to regaining his confidence continues.

WILNIS 7 (4/3), NAYLOR 5 (3/2), GAARDSOE 6 (3/3), MAKIN 8 (4/4): Again, the
full-backs were the cornerstones of the team, although they had less
covering to do than Tuesday night and came forward more. Makin looked hard
as nails on occasions, and worked his socks off. Wilnis let himself down by
being caught out of position on a couple of occasions. Naylor seems to be
getting more confident in his new role, but made one or two major errors.
Gaardsoe seemed more comfortable alongside him today.

REUSER 6 (3/3), HOLLAND 9 (5/4), MAGILTON 4 (2/2), WRIGHT 4 (2/2): This club
simply does not deserve Matt Holland at the moment. Not his team-mates, who
don’t seem to be picking up an iota of inspiration from him. Not the
management, who led him to believe they were creating a club stable enough
for him to see out his whole career. And not the supporters, who witnessed
Matt put his heart and soul on the line again in almost silence, and who
still can’t find a song for him after all these years. Holland was
everywhere today: making tackles at the back, then still having far more
attempts on goal than any of the strikers. His performance showed up Wright
and Magilton horribly. Why BFJ thinks Jim can still manage two games in a
week is simply beyond me – he was way off the pace. Jermaininho was terribly
ineffective. At least Reuser’s slow rehabilitation is continuing, although
he’s re-emerging as quite a different player to the one we knew.

Marcus BENT 4 (2/2), COUNAGO 4 (2/2): Both hopelessly disappointing. Poor
control, limited awareness, and no semblance of any partnership between
them. Bent started off as if he might have one of his better afternoons, but
gradually the shoulders started to slump.

Sub: Darren BENT came on for Counago, and livened things up immediately.
We’d all love to know why an 18-year-old was given a crucial penalty to
take, when he’d missed his last one, but it didn’t seem to get to him much.
He must be given a chance to start again. As must MILLER, who got a pathetic
ten minutes – and did more in that time than Jim had all game.

The REFEREE made several weird decisions, for and against us, but kept
control well and was generally pretty good. The CROWD 4 (2/2) were simply
embarrassing: I can’t remember the ground being so withdrawn since before
the Royle era. Brighton brought what looked like the biggest travelling
support of the season, and they were excellent, but they seemed baffled by
having so little to respond to. Even their predictable “shall we sing a song
for you?” was sung in an almost pitying way.

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