The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Stoke City 1

Back down to earth a little, after Tuesday night’s excesses, but hey, we’re
still getting those odd-goal victories where in less fortunate times we
wouldn’t be, so I’m not complaining. We were just about worth the win
(although Stoke were incredibly lucky not to equalise at the end with the
one which went off both posts then out), and to be honest, we weren’t that
much off Tuesday night’s pace: I think that was just one of those matches
where everything went right for us and the opposing defence had a nightmare
at the same time. Today our luck was distinctly more average, and Stoke
considerably less accommodating.

With Mahon going off injured so early, our luck certainly didn’t look to be
in. After that, we missed his creativity really badly: it was the old story
of very little movement up front making Jim, Jermaininho and Chris B-W look
unfairly negative at times. Performances were mixed across the team, but it
was different players looking good in this game compared to the last. As
long as some of them play well, I don’t care too much which ones! Joe
certainly seems to have found a formation he likes (a 4-4-2 with Kuqi being
allowed free roam across the width of the pitch, usually leaving Pablo very
alone in the middle) because even with two major substitutions by the start
of the second half, the subs were asked to slot into the formation rather
than any modifications to the formation being made.

One month and four days ago we were bottom of the table. Today we’re in the
playoff zone. Nobody would have predicted that, even at this early stage of
the season. Perhaps our biggest worry is that two decent results in the
Palace and Preston matches, and Joe’s a shoe-in for Manager of the Month (P4
W4 D0 L0 in October to date). That we could do without. Still, Good Work,
Big Fat Fella.

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

DAVIS 6 (3/3): Another confident performance, with consistently reliable
distribution. No complaints here.

WILNIS 7 (4/3), SANTOS 7 (4/3), NAYLOR 5 (3/2), RICHARDS 6 (3/3): Fab had a
really neat game, coming forward effectively but responsibly: there were few
instances of him going AWOL like he did all too frequently in the first few
games of the season, and that helped the central defenders concentrate on
their games. Georges is becoming a real rock at the back, and what might
have been if we’d had him (or someone like him) to have taken over from
Mogga a few years back. Bam-Bam worked fairly hard, but there were a few too
many cases of dodgy distribution putting us under needless pressure. Matt is
definitely improving and becoming more confident in his defensive
capabilities, which is great to see.

MAHON, BART-WILLIAMS 8 (4/4), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), WRIGHT 6 (3/3): Quietly huge
performance from Chris, who seemed to be all over the midfield in a way we
haven’t seen since Matt left. He popped up making interceptions everywhere,
and the similarity didn’t stop there, because he also seemed to be aware of
his distributional limitations and just made plenty of safe but positive
passes. More performances like this and he’d make himself worryingly crucial
to the side, something we don’t want if we’ve got to take him back to the
library with the others at Christmas. Let’s hope Jermaine and Tommy are
watching and learning. Talking of which, Jermaine had another reasonable
game, and is definitely getting back to form. We’ll overlook the glaring
miss from the corner in the first half. Jim never seemed to get into the
match: I assume the substitution was because of an injury, and that might
explain it. He had some fun with the Stoke fans though.

KUQI 7 (4/3), COUNAGO 5 (3/2): Shefti was all over the place again (in a
good way), making all the options up front and giving his all for the whole
ninety minutes. If he could just create a few more chances (and take them!)
he’d be a real hero. I just wish he’s get into the box a bit more and not be
so wide for much of the time.

And then there was Pablo. Never has it been so hard to give a player a mark
out of ten. But seeing as I have to justify giving him less than 9/10
nowadays, here goes. He started off on fire, for five or ten minutes. So
far, so good. On the positive side, he stayed the focal point of the attack
throughout. So OK, an extra mark for effort, then. But after that his
attitude went right back to the year zero. The whingeing and diving were as
embarrassing as ever, and they just got worse as the game wore on. So back
to 3/5 for effort. And for what he achieved? I just can’t think of anything
positive. Chance after chance, whether he created them through decent
running or whether he was presented with them on a plate, he fluffed the
lot. Almost every attack broke down with him as he tried and failed to turn
defenders, his distribution was on a completely different wavelength to the
others, and by the end, most of the ground seemed to be begging Joe to bring
on anyone to put us out of our misery. I think 2/5 is quite generous enough.
There you go. Tell me I’m unfair to him. I don’t think so.

Subs: WESTLAKE 5 (3/2) came on for Mahon early on but didn’t make the sort
of impact his late appearance on Tuesday had promised. He never really found
a role, often getting caught up in the traffic; it obviously wasn’t where he
really wanted to be playing, to be fair. MILLER 6 (3/3) made a welcome
reappearance at half-time, replacing Jim, and made a decent contribution in
a fairly wide role. I think a lot rests on him really coming good now,
because he may be the man to replace Bart-Williams, or Mahon, or both, if we
don’t get to keep them.

The REFEREE was poor. The CROWD were much better, especially as the match
wore on – definitely above average in terms of volume, and a decent size
too, given the time and the fact the game was on telly.

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