The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 3 Nottm Forest 4

So with results elsewhere, the playoff places opened up for us like an
Ipswich defence …and we blew it big-time, like a scuffed Counago shot. The
curse of Manager of the Month meant we were always going to be up against
it, but to throw away a decent position twice is desperately disappointing.
Sure, it was a really exciting afternoon, but we weren’t a side showing
enough maturity or composure for the playoffs, never mind the Premiership.

We made plenty of chances – as ever – but never really exploited them,
Counago in particular for the first 30 minutes shooting with about the same
power as the matchday mascots in the warmup. At the back, a central defence
composed of a centre-forward and a midfielder was always going to need a lot
of protection, but that rarely materialised: the fullbacks were kept busy
and the midfield was lightweight and often AWOL.

That said, we played some sparkling stuff in the first twenty minutes, in
front of a noisy crowd which must have been the biggest at Portman Road
since I was standing in Churchmans on a milk-crate. Only the finishing was
letting us down, but we were creating enough chances that something had to
go in eventually, and indeed it eventually did. When we got a penalty,
Forest must have thought it was all over, but they may not have realised
they were up against The Worst Penalty-Taking Side In The World …Ever (TM)
and it was no surprise that we fluffed it. Again. When the ref ordered it to
be retaken (about an hour after the first attempt), and this time we scored,
we must have all been thinking that someone up there was smiling on us. But
it wasn’t to be. Forest decided to attack more directly, and found to their
delight that they’d been giving our defence far too much respect. In fact,
all they really had to do was to poke a few shots on target, and almost
inevitably just about every one would find its way into the net. It was a
defence made of bog-paper this afternoon, and not the tough cheap kind you
so rarely experience nowadays …more the flimsy soft stuff you wonder why
you keep paying so much money for.

Buoyed on by the crowd, the team kept plugging away in the second half, and
Marcus popped in a fine equaliser. But twice before that Forest had put in
crosses which Johnno or one of his mates had narrowly failed to make contact
with; on both occasions in front of a gaping Town net with the defence all
over the place. So it wasn’t a surprise when – third time lucky – they
finally made contact and the ball sailed into a gaping net. Yet again we
ended up looking at league table afterwards, wondering what might have been.

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

MARSHALL 4 (2/2): A couple of fine saves, sure, but he spent much of the
game glued to his line and asking far too much of the inexperienced pairing
in front of him. Some improving distribution was probably the highlight.

WILNIS 6 (3/3), NAYLOR 5 (3/2), HOLLAND 5 (3/2), MAKIN 5 (3/2): All four
defenders tried reasonably hard, but backed off Huckerby too much and were
stretched far too thinly. There was no commanding presence, and little
support for anyone in front of them bar Fab’s usual forays forward.

WRIGHT 4 (2/2), MILLER 5 (2/3), MAGILTON 6 (3/3), RICHARDS 4 (2/2): A very
anonymous afternoon for the midfield, with Miller looking the liveliest for
a while, but disappearing for the second half, and Jim probably the pick of
the bunch over 90 minutes. Jermaininho was poor throughout, and Richards
looked nervous and, disappointing as it is to say it, rather out of his
depth.

Marcus BENT 6 (3/3), COUNAGO 5 (3/2): Marcus offered his usual mixture of
alternating haring around after lost causes with dropped-shoulders static
huffiness, but his presence was effective throughout, and he took his goal
really well. Pablo was lightweight and offered the worst display of shooting
from a striker in the first half which I can remember seeing for a long
time, but he was keen until the end.

Sub: REUSER’s appearance was greeted with wild delight by the large
contingent of orange-wigged (and very drunk) Dutchmen in the crowd, but his
influence on the game was not dramatic, despite moving things up a gear
slightly. ARMSTRONG got thrown on as an extra striker right at the end but
hardly got a touch.

On more than one occasion it looked like it was all going to go off, but the
REFEREE kept the lid on some contentious moments quite well (along with
Johnno, who kept hurling himself in as a peacemaker). The CROWD 8 (4/4) were
much better, goaded on by a large and noisy Forest contingent. It was
noticeable that the crowd lifted the team after the break at a time when we
often go to sleep. Which is what I’m going to go and do in a minute, to
dream of a very different page 325 on Ceefax.

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