The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Millwall 3

Three-one defeats are becoming a bit monotonous. But unlike the Wigan game,
we weren’t outplayed by a classier side, and unlike the Norwich game, we
weren’t robbed. Instead, we just looked a mess, against a strong but
ordinary side. It was a match about commitment and confidence, and for
periods we had it in spades, and for the remainder we were simply hopeless.
I’ve simply no idea what we can learn from this, except to observe that at
this stage of the season we really should have found a lot more consistency
and shouldn’t be veering from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again
over the course of ninety minutes.

The first half was, quite simply, rubbish. Giving away two soft goals just
made it worse. Of course Joe Royle will point to losing first one
centre-half and then the other through injury, but let’s not forget we were
aimless even before they went off. And the problem had been more due to a
dreadful midfield anyway. The flat 4-4-2 offered few problems for Millwall’s
solid “Row Z” defence and when the half-time stats showed 5 Ipswich goal
attempts (to Millwall’s 4), most supporters would have been hard pressed to
remember that many.

What was surely needed was a major shake-up at half-time, but surely Joe
wouldn’t use up his final substitute so early, would he? Amazingly, he
would. Conventional formations (and some expected roles) went out the window
as we went 4-3-1-2 and then, when Millwall scored an absurd third goal and
clearly were going to shut up shop, a somewhat unorthodox 3-4-1-2. Whether
it was this that transformed the team, or the introduction of players with a
point to prove, is open to debate, but for half an hour we were a different
team, and were all over them. If we’d got a second, I’m sure we’d have got
even more, but as the match wore on, it was clear this wasn’t going to be
our afternoon, and by the end the enthusiasm had started to ebb away.

This was one of those games which must have left every supporter thinking:
“this is going nowhere. Get rid of the management, get rid of the dead wood,
and just start again with the players who care”. But you just know that next
week it’ll be totally different, and equally infuriating. Reuser’s
performance sums it all up: a month ago I wrote “we might just have seen the
last of him” and I wouldn’t have shed a tear if so. Today he set an example
to almost everyone. Go figure.

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

DAVIS 4 (2/2): The fact that Andy Marshall made him look the second best
keeper on the field says it all. Marshall hasn’t turned into Dino Zoff
overnight, yet his handling was better than Davis’s, his presence was better
and (gasp) even his distribution was better. And the second goal looked very
soft indeed.

WILNIS 6 (3/3), DIALLO, SANTOS, RICHARDS 8 (4/4): Matt was one of only two
or three outfield players who actually played in the same position for
ninety minutes, and he was immaculate throughout. Full of running and
confidence: if he’s been “overplayed” this season, how come he’s playing as
well now as ever? Fab was moved from full-back to centre-half and back
again, and contributed plenty, although showed some suspect temperament at
times. And of course he still can’t cross. Diallo and Santos looked OK, to
be honest, and would have warranted reasonable marks if they’d made it
through 45 minutes. Both went off looking very injured.

WRIGHT 4 (2/2), MILLER 7 (4/3), MAGILTON 3 (2/1), WESTLAKE 5 (3/2):
Jermaine went from wide midfield to full-back to central midfield, but was
at his negative, uncreative worst throughout. Shame, because a good
performance might have made a big difference. But Jim was worse.
Unquestionably, he gave away the ball more times than Pablo does. He was way
off the pace, on a different wavelength from his team-mates and his
captaincy looked as dubious as ever, especially when he chose to bawl Fab
out while they stood over a prostrate Diallo who was being attended to by
doctors and St. John’s ambulancemen. Westy put in a reasonable effort, but
the highlight of the midfield was Tommy Miller. The pick of a poor bunch in
the first half, he was effectively asked to be the entire central midfield
after half-time, and not only did a great job, but (amazingly) kept it up
right through to the end, which I thought he’d never manage.

KUQI 4 (2/2), BENT 5 (3/2): Shefki had a real off-day, contributing very
little, and few supporters missed him when he was substituted at half-time.
Darren ran hard as usual, but was seen off quite easily by Millwall’s

Subs: NAYLOR 6 (3/3) was sent on to replace Diallo when Millwall had a free
kick, and had just jogged into position in front of goal when the ball
dropped in on top of him. He missed his header. 0-1. But he picked himself
up and commendably formed a one-man central defence for the last half-hour.
REUSER 8 (4/4) came on for a few minutes before half-time as a wide
midfielder but it was in the second half, in a free-ranging role, that he
epitomised the half of the team which got the bit between their teeth. He
was so up for it. And sure, he might not be as fit as he once was, but he
covered almost as much of the pitch as anyone, popping up everywhere …a
complete (and really pleasant!) surprise. BOWDITCH 7 (4/3) was also a major
part of the side’s transformation in the second half, although drifting in
and out a bit. Some classy touches though, and a big improvement on Kuqi.
You wonder if there’s a lot more to come, and who wouldn’t now like to see
him given a place in the starting line-up for the rest of the season?

The REFEREE was Mike Riley, big name …but well below average. I think it
was the linesman who gave the third goal (which Northstanders tell me was no
way over the line) but it was Riley who kept getting fooled by the cleverer
players on both sides. And as for booking Deano for diving …simply

The CROWD were quiet when Town were lacking inspiration, but got animated in
the second half and there was a great atmosphere for a while. Millwall’s big
following were noisy throughout though.

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