The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Ipswich Town 1 Wimbledon 5

Normally I just sit down and write these things, but I’ve been pondering the
whole way home just how I’m going to put into words what I’ve just seen, and
I don’t think I can do it justice. It’s easy to glibly say “the worst this ”
or “the best that”, but I cannot recall, in over thirty years of watching
the Town, a less committed performance from such a disinterested group of
players. Whilst the playoffs had left the building in reality, there was
still an outside chance, still something to play for. But this was a team
that, quite simply, looked like they didn’t care in the slightest any more.
They didn’t even seem to have any self-respect. It was so horrible to watch,
that in common with many other supporters, I found myself involuntarily
standing up and cheering as Wimbledon’s last goal went in.

There were two or three notable exceptions (players called Matt, players
under 20 and players fitting both criteria) but other than that, I don’t
think there was a single player out there this afternoon I’d miss if they
were never to wear the Town shirt again. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”,
sang the North Stand, and never have they hit the nail on the head more
precisely.

It seems churlish to even pass comment on the manager and his tactics today,
as nothing he could have done would have salvaged anything from this
pathetic display. The switch back to 5-3-2 after the success of the 4-4-2
seemed odd, but wasn’t the cause of the shambles, because despite reverting
to 4-4-2 in the second half, things got even worse. The only criticism which
has to be made is that with Darren Bent, Bowditch, Collins and Bloomfield on
the bench, there was simply no reason not to bring on all three substitutes
at half-time. And even if not, with the midfield playing so dreadfully in
the first half, there was no excuse for not using the reorganisation in the
second half to move Matt Holland into midfield to sort things out.

All in all, a bizarre afternoon, in a well-filled but eerily hollow-sounding
stadium. Wimbledon’s travelling army totalled 55 (we counted them), although
at least one had an Ipswich shirt on, so perhaps the support was less. With
no opposition supporters and the abject display in front of them, it was no
wonder that the home crowd never got going.

My dream is that next season we’ll see Matt Holland leading out a team
comprised of a new keeper and nine under-21s who want to get on, and who
care about this club and how much it means to the fans. My nightmare is that
we’ll hardly be able to offload anyone this summer with the exception of the
almost-inevitable transfer of Matt, and we’ll start next season with the
bulk of the dismal rabble who showed their true colours this afternoon. If
so, let’s hope we have the highest-paid reserve team in First Division
history.

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

MARSHALL 3 (2/1): Awful. And I’ve had enough. I’ve stuck up for Andy all
season, but no more. I hate to say it, but I’ve got to at last admit defeat
and agree with those on the list who’ve been saying all season that Marshall
should go. It looked like he bottled it for the first goal – North Standers
will have had a better view – but in the second half, not only did he watch
almost every shot fly past him, but he was clearly the reason why the
defence looked so dreadful as a unit; they were constantly looking over
their shoulders wondering where he was going to be. When a defence has so
little confidence in their keeper, they stand no chance.

WILNIS 5 (3/2), HOLLAND 6 (4/2), GAARDSOE 5 (3/2), MAKIN 5 (3/2), RICHARDS 6
(4/2): The whole was worse than the sum of its parts: this defence was not
as good as the individual ratings might suggest. Wimbledon only had to run
at us and it was all over. I just can’t believe they didn’t do it more. In
the second half, Richards went into midfield in a 4-4-2, then back to
right-back when Wilnis was sacrificed for another striker. Poor Chris Makin
played in three different positions. The two Matts were the only players on
the park who worked hard for the whole ninety minutes though. There was no
communication, they were all bamboozled by what Marshall was going to do
next, and you could see the last three goals coming as soon as the ball came
into our half. Joe knows the defence is awful, but I can’t see how anything
short of a clearout in the summer is going to solve things. Matt Holland,
you’ve been a god to us, but unless you want to take up the challenge of
helping build a whole new team, it’s time to save your career and leave us
the way we’d want to remember you: as the only player who played well from
start to finish in our worst season for the best part of twenty years.

MAGILTON 4 (2/2), WRIGHT 4 (2/2), REUSER 4 (2/2): If the defence was bad,
the midfield was worse. They might as well not have been there, and their
only real contribution was within the opposition penalty area in the first
20 minutes. Magilton missed four good chances in the first half: the first
time we could laugh it off as another example of the comedy shooting we’ve
come to know and laugh at over the years, but it went beyond a joke. Thanks
for the memories Jim, especially the playoff semi, but I think time’s up.
And Jermaine Wright? What can I say? You’ve always been one of my favourite
players, and the boo-boys have made me really angry, but today you didn’t
seem to care a bit.

Marcus BENT 3 (1/2), COUNAGO 4 (2/2): They might have had no support behind
them, but these two primadonnas didn’t even look like scoring against a
desperately ordinary opposition. Bent’s shoulders dropped even earlier than
normal, and he played almost no part in the second half. When he went in for
a half-hearted, but late challenge in the second half, most of the crowd
around me were shouting for him to be sent off to put us all out of our
misery. And don’t get me going about Counago. All this talk about his
technical ability. What about the fact that every single attack throughout
the second half broke down the moment it reached him? Give me Dean Bowditch
any day, I don’t care how young he is.

Subs: Darren BENT came on far too late (with 35 minutes to go!) and tried
his hardest, inevitably showing the other two posers how to stick the ball
in the net.

The REFEREE was OK, and brought on the best chant of the afternoon when he
went off injured towards the end (“You’re not fit to referee…”, what
else?).

The CROWD were quiet throughout, although it was good to hear some
“alternative” criticism of the second-half performance in the form of
good-natured chanting of former players’ names, rather than booing or
general abuse. I assume the players on the pitch heard and took note as the
North Stand went through songs about Marcus Stewart, Hermann, Johnny Wark
and (I think) Micky Stockwell. I’m not sure some of them looked like they’d
care. At least the crowd added “one Matt Holland” for good measure.
Unexpectedly, the team came back on to the pitch ten minutes after the end
for an end-of-season wave, although they didn’t get past the centre circle.
Another verse of “one Matt Holland” ensued, which was good to hear, although
the subsequent “Ole ole ole ole Pablo Pablo” which caused the Spaniard to
chuck his boots into the crowd was probably more due to a lack of anything
else to sing about. A desperately flat finish to Portman Road’s season, and
one which will cost the club dearly: the season ticket application forms are
going out straight away, and I can’t see anyone in two minds before today
writing out that cheque. Still, us diehard fools will be back. Of course.

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