The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 0 Norwich City 2

I remember a Portman Road game a few seasons back where the players just
didn’t seem to be trying, and got the reaction they deserved, even down to a
gut-wrenching booing for Matt as he did his post-match lap. This wasn’t the
same sort of thing, it was just a really poor performance. Wrong players,
wrong tactics, wrong day for so many of the players to have off-days.
Norwich came with exactly the right approach for a derby game (as we did
last Spring), and it worked a treat: they defended well and got the breaks
when they needed them. We were clueless.

With so much of the squad available for once, it was always going to be
interesting to see who Joe went for. The 4-4-2 wasn’t surprising, but I
think most supporters were a little uneasy that so many go-ahead players
were left on the bench: with Miller, Mahon and Naylor all there sitting it
out, you got the uneasy feeling that there’d be a lot of sideways balls all
afternoon, and it turned out to be the case. All the ‘local derby’
commitment seemed to come from Norwich, but even so, they barely mustered
three or four attempts on goal all afternoon. We had far more of the play
but generated almost nothing of note. The tactics seemed wrong at every
turn, but even so, the players didn’t make the most of a bad job.

So the worst possible pre-Christmas then: no return from the six-pointer,
and the budgies go top of the division at Portman Road. I’m so hoping the
resident statisticians can come up with some gem like “the team top at
Christmas has never won the First Division” or something. Heck, if Norwich
are the best the division has to offer, next season’s Premiership bottom
three are already guaranteed to be the three who go up. What’s most
disappointing is that we’re not even good enough to be in that three.

Player ratings
(1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement…)

DAVIS 4 (2/2): The swirling wind obviously made any decent distribution
difficult in the second half, but Kelvin seemed to make very little attempt
to provide an alternative. And then came the second goal: just what
happened? He seemed to totally misjudge a quite innocuous header.

WILNIS 8 (4/4), SANTOS 6 (3/3), McGREAL 5 (3/2), RICHARDS 5 (3/2): Johnny
Mac’s experience may have got him the nod for an unpredictable derby game,
but we missed Bam-Bam’s commitment. Georges is unlucky that his physical
challenges lead to so many undeserved bookings, and after one such card,
then a clear “final warning”, it was obvious Joe would have to take him off
at half-time. The alternative would have been a central defender unable to
make a challenge in the second half. Matt got caught out of position a few
too many times for my liking (again), and didn’t make much of an impact on
the game. Fab, however, seemed to inhabit a little universe of his own,
making a succession of good tackles, constantly creating good space, and
working tirelessly throughout. A rare bright spot for the afternoon.

WRIGHT 4 (2/2), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), BART-WILLIAMS 4 (2/2), WESTLAKE 5 (3/2):
Very nondescript performances across the middle, and almost nothing to
comment on. I thought the whole point of Chris B-W was to allow Jim to take
things forward and act as a supply line to the strikers, but it’s not

KUQI 5 (3/2), BENT 5 (3/2): They’re certainly a complementary pair, the big
target man and the rangy, speedy runner, but the problem is beginning to
become clear: not only can neither of them can finish (which we knew), but
neither can even create decent opportunities for themselves. And that’s a
problem when there’s nobody else creating anything. A couple of hard-to-make
failed headers from Darren was about the best they could manage between
them. We have a definite problem here unless we can find room for a third
striker – a finisher – to join them, or someone behind can start to deliver.

Subs: NAYLOR 7 (3/4) saved our bacon in the second half. Although his
appearance was forced by Georges’ deteriorating relationship with the
referee, he was just the man for the job as the match became one-way traffic
and Norwich were restricted to breaks: I can’t believe either Georges or
Johnny Mac would have made some of the one-on-one interceptions which
Bam-Bam pulled off. MAHON looked classy, and delivered some decent balls,
and his free-kick was just about our only decent dead-ball all afternoon
(his final corner was as bad as anything Jim had come up with). COUNAGO
might have been what we needed – a finisher to mix it – but played far too
deep and spent nearly the whole time on his backside, uselessly.

The REFEREE was OK, given the way derby matches can get out of hand if
allowed to. The CROWD were apprehensive, made some decent noise at the start
and on a couple of other occasions, but gradually got a little
disillusioned, quietening down enough for the Norwich voices to end up the
louder by far. And that was the most painful thing of all. Happy Christmas.

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