The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Sunderland 2

Well, after 100+ games (several seasons’ worth) in each of the other three
stands over 30 years, for the first time *ever* your humble correspondent
sat in the North Stand. It’s all a bit different when you’re in the North:
the seats are all cramped, there’s no big bar with carpet, and Pablo looks
quite a good player. But the team are still their own worst enemies.

What verdict to give then? We’ve played worse than this in the recent past
and won matches, so it’s not all doom and gloom. But if we wanted to
benchmark ourselves against fellow promotion candidates, we didn’t turn up
very encouraging results. The difference between the two teams was in
confidence (or our lack of it in places), concentration (too often we lost
it) and intelligence (they’ll never play against an easier team to catch
offside, again and again). Sunderland were better than us on all counts. We
probably had more chances, but they didn’t make mistakes like we did.

With Bart-Williams missing, we played a much flatter midfield four, and
although I’ve tended to think one of his major contributions has been to
free up Jim a bit, this match suggested otherwise, because Jim played fairly
freely anyway: it was Jermaininho and Tommy Miller who looked like they
missed his reassuring presence behind them. In fact, those people who have
been suggesting that the real problem in midfield is that Jim and
Bart-Williams shouldn’t ever play together may have a point. But there was
room for improvement everywhere today.

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

DAVIS 4 (2/2): Kelvin’s really going through a bad patch now, and I don’t
just mean the calamitous error which gifted Sunderland the winner. The
defence aren’t confident in him, and he’s becoming hesitant to come out for
balls they have every right to expect him to meet without having to think
about it. Worrying.

WILNIS 4 (2/2), NAYLOR 6 (3/3), McGREAL 7 (3/4), RICHARDS 4 (2/2): We looked
very shaky on both flanks. Although Matt received a lot of crowd displeasure
for his more obvious defensive errors (including what looked like some
serious bottling out of a challenge which led to a move ending with their
first goal), I’d contend that Fab is at least as weak, just in a less
error-prone way. Sunderland found in the second half (as many teams have
done before them) that they can just bypass Fab at will with simple passing.
Far more danger came on that side, again, than on our left. Matt, meanwhile,
looked nervous, but not in a way which suggested he was apprehensive of the
opposition or the level at which he’s now playing, but more in the kind of
way that a child gets nervous about what his Dad’s going to say to him
afterwards. And you can see where that comes from: the constant earful he’s
been getting from Jim right through every game since he became a regular
can’t be doing him any good, even if Jim thinks it needs to be done. He
tries to answer back sometimes, but it’s all just very bad man-management if
you ask me. At least things were better in the middle: Bam-Bam was solid,
and Johnny Mac looked the most composed player in our side, making some
tremendous blocks in the first half.

MILLER 5 (2/3), WRIGHT 5 (3/2), MAGILTON 7 (4/3), WESTLAKE 6 (3/3): A poor
day for the midfield, with Jim showing the most inventiveness and Westy the
most intelligence, but Tommy and Jermaininho really didn’t get involved.

KUQI 7 (4/3), COUNAGO 7 (4/3): Shefki hared round as madly as a mad thing
for ninety minutes, but was well contained by the Sunderland defence. Got in
a couple of decent strikes though. Pablo really worked hard too, but failed
to create much for himself and fluffed his best chance. The effort is there,
but up front it’s about results.

Subs: REUSER came on towards the end as we went three-at-the-back, but
didn’t have an enormous impact. He unforgivably scuffed the corner we had at
the end when the entire team (including the keeper) had come up to meet it.
The goal showed Pablo how to be in the right place at the right time, but
did anyone else notice that for the second week running, Reuser scored and
hardly a single team-mate made any gesture of congratulations at all?

The REFEREE was surely not the best this country’s got to offer and our man
for Euro 2004, is he? It was an irritating performance with decisions that
baffled both sets of players. The CROWD were quiet again. Some of the PhDs
around me thought it was amusing to occasionally get up a chant of “You’ve
never won **** all”, obviously thinking we were playing Middlesbrough or
Hartlepool or someone, rather than a club which has won the cup twice (more
than our once) and the league six times (considerably more than our once).
Nice one lads.

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