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|Bristol City v Ipswich Town Your Report added by Mullet at 00:42:49|
A sense of a season beginning anew greeted us at the recently completed and revitalised Ashton Gate and a beautifully poignant observation of respect for the tragic lives lost in Colombia. In the still greying chill of a December afternoon, the electronic advertising hoardings rolled over to promote a local funeral service as heads collectively bowed. It was an ominous moment of unintentional farce that only modern football can produce.
Town lined up as Mick revealed days before the assembly in the South West. Unchanged with McGoldrick and Varney combining ahead of Lawrence, Ward, Skuse and Douglas. A now familiar back five from Bart and beyond. And perhaps the story of selection mirrors the story of today.
Town went into the game as even and balanced as any team can in terms of form. A half dozen of each result splitting the previous 18 matches. A form sequence that recently read win, lose, win saw little change by half time to some eyes and much to others perhaps.
On the one hand this is a tale of a bad decision and a wonder strike no one could foresee. On the other this is same old tale of Town just not having enough about them, of Town offering nothing of the unexpected.
Mick threw down not just his tactical intentions earlier this week, but a challenge to us, to his players to Bristol City. Those that feel we need teams to worry about us, will surely take comfort from the fact that the Robins lined up in unusual fashion.
Young and old came together in a strike pairing of Abraham and Wilbraham - whilst the work of a local barber made sure that Freeman and Tomlin looked more streamlined this time around than at first glance. Placed not quite as wonky wingers, but more attacking midfielders that would cut into Town's flanks and on rare moments draw blood.
Both players had moments early on to take the ball to their man and beat them, on one such instance Webster who was wrong footed after Chambers scrambled Tomlin's effort out for a corner. Freeman then delivered one of many set pieces that would derail Town's defensive sensibilities for fear of deja views.
Before that, an early moment of controversy preceding the clock reaching double digits. Douglas with back to goal and facing ours deep inside our half laid a hospital ball back to Berra. There was little wrong with the pass but the hulking demiScot was upended brutally by lumbering striker and ex-Canary Wilbraham. No sooner had he took flight than calls for an early bath hissed forth. A fresh yellow for the former one drew an end to the flashpoint.
Too often this season Town have failed to work referees, several times in this bad tempered affair they turned up when necessary but failed to enjoy fruit from their verbal labours. A similar story told in the final third of the pitch and entirety of the game.
McGoldrick was absolutely spell binding at times, but too far from centre stage to wow his audience. Where Varney might hustle and barrack backlines, Didsy would make space like a reverse black hole. As he backheeled, pirouetted and prowled past many men it seemed like physics is for other people.
However even he was a victim of Town's propensity to play with a 5-a-side mentality in an 11 a side contest. Shots from him, Lawrence, Douglas et al ballooned off target from distance, from angles that never added up to sensible practice. When Town moved it was stopstart and grace gave way to crushing gravity as momentum was often sucked from attacks at the slightest gust of wind or impatience.
Whilst the home side were wary of some crisp passing and movement, they also muddled the game with aerial superiority. Last season that translated to two identikit goals from corners for Flint, this season it meant pushing and pulling at the defence through uncultured lumps and cute runs that ended in cross or free kicks.
Mick soon moved Chambers to man marking Tomlin as it became clear that room afforded to a man of his stature and talent, meant danger. The home side's puddingphile would take the ball to his man several times and his first instinct was to then go to ground if the way did not become immediately clear. Attwell fell for it as often as both he and later Freeman would. Town no wiser than the official who refused to book the former Gunner for an embarrassing early vault, enabled a lot of pushing and protesting.
It was this sort of climate that saw the first big event of the game precipitate down on the Blues. Berra clearly took exception to the double scorer again sensing his opportunity from corners. Wrestling earned both reminders. Town did little to combat such dominance effectively and when Bart scrambled low in his six yard box young Tammy Abraham was there too. Both men got a bit of the ball and each other. The home fans roared as the youngster hit the deck long after the ball hit the hoardings for a throw in. The ref waited, then pointed a single digit down like a hapless emperor before the mob.
Again Town surrounded him, a pointless warm up to Tomlin burying the spot kick.
Our response? Silence. A quarter of an hour of playing out the half and more valiant efforts but magic of McGoldrick switching play to find Knudsen unmarked on the far wing, or blasting just past the post all moments in a game where again Town's best work was too far away to trouble.
If defensive frailties had been largely feared but rarely spotted as opposed to our last defeat it's noticeable that Webster gives us something rarely seen in a Town defence. He can header a ball unopposed, but under pressure does not have Berra's knack or nous, which sometimes has teams asking questions of Bart. But on the ground he is superb. Even when wobbling his way past several players he can ping a pass with either foot and find a man.
This openness gives Town a sense of options sorely lacking at times in recent months and there were two moments where he found attacking intent those in front of him did not. In the second half it was Webster careering through where others feared to tread. But this common theme was signpost to Town's greater departure from quintessential Mickdom. We were again a goal down and whatever the rights and wrongs of it, Bristol like so many sides simply closed ranks and pushed Town out wide and let us lap against their defences, where once we crashed. We now lick our wounds.
It was a match where both teams vied for a 52-48 style advantage all over the pitch. Where both seemed sure they didn't need to consider the other side with too much scrutiny. Simple football in a clash of utterly midtable quality, coloured much of the game.
Even when Mick brought changes we so desperately needed. It was an hour after he was crocked and Ward went off having put in another understated but accomplished stint of doing enough to show he is capable, but only eye catching in glimpses. Varney the embodiment of graft and can-do attitude, didn't today.
It was Town's Best and Sears that took their place and it wasn't enough. When Freddie strafed across a great red wall, his old understanding of Knudsen's overlap found the Dane perfectly. His response summed up his career so far. As promise yielded neither a cross nor shot. The drive evaded everyone expecting and went out for a goal kick. Leaving many confused, frustrated or wishing he'd done what we'd seen before.
When Town were harassing their hosts once more it was Chambers who produced cross after cross, it was his colleagues who let the giant defender clear them away unmarked and unchecked even when again Knudsen cleverly brought one down beyond the back post, but hard bit done saw the next touch squirt the ball over the line a long way from inside the post. Oddly the captain's best pass, was a short reversal inside two defenders and sent McG free enough to beat the keeper and put a shot off the post.
These were all familiar sketches of Town at their best and worst this season. Ability and endeavour ran parallel and past one another in all areas of the pitch. Nothing summed up the current predicament more than the sight of Johnnie Williams pre-bow.
Diving gleefully into the dugout as Bristol attacked once more half-hearted and cruising with a slender lead. The Welshman was pulling his trousers down as Freeman connected with a wonderful volley from distance that left all stood stock still and jaws agape. Even the locals who feel he rarely contributes with any meaningful threat can't have imagined such sublimity in flying size 5 form.
By the time the Welshman replaced his compatriot Lawrence the game was gone, the belief was gone and so was the moment. Just before the triple-blow ending Blue misery the little blonde darted across the line not once but twice, as he was felled in the area. It was as clear as the previous penalty shouts, but as when Berra wrestled the shirt of his man in the first half, it went unnoticed and unpunished.
Town's form now at sixes and seven in the worst possible combination. That is just as powerful as any one stat or result or moment. Without that attacking focal point there is no way to capture the potential threat we can show teams. There is no clear picture upon which we can draw.
As the league essentially loses one promotion and relegation spot in the shape of Newcastle and Rotherham it seems. Town are left even shorter of resources to compete with the best of them. Likewise, no team is too big or good go down. But this side is much better than one Mick inherited and the prospect being unthinkable, is of course never impossible.
Something has to change, for me it'd be the recruitment of a striker to begin the era post-Murphy and now just as pressing, a midfielder that can fill the hole Teddy Bishop vacated far too long ago. In a game where Bart had little to do an offside Abraham slid through and threatened to add a third goal, the problem being it was a game where nobody even the usual suspects did little wrong but again everybody did little right.
What seems obvious at least in the short term is that is impossible to move sideways without moving a tiny bit up and then a tiny bit down. As Town look to have put aside many injuries and kept the consistency in selection that made McCarthy so successful in seasons past, we have lost much of the resilience that turned draws into wins, losses into draws and so we oscillate and the binary nature of in or out ripples from each result with greater force whilst ultimately we go nowhere.
|Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers Your Report added by Bert at 12:26:15|
At last a reasonably entertaining game. I get it why Douglas and Skuse are picked because they do the job required which regrettably the fans' favourites did not in the last two home games. Time for the detractors to accept that they should support the team whoever is in charge and leave the hate and abuse out.
|Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers Your Report added by dannyrr at 14:01:05|
Both Luke Varney and Tom Lawrence pressed for the whole time they were on the pitch and both of them deserved their goal for their hard work. Webster was excellent in defence - if we had 4 of him at the back we'd have a solid defence. Varney won everything he went for in the air but a pity that there wasn't always someone there to collect it. I don't understand why Perch didn't receive a second yellow for his tackle - it doesn't matter if he's already had one to justify the reluctance to issue a second. We should have had more goals but overall a good result in reply to the terrible performance last week. The momentum needs to continue. I thought it would have made sense to get Joniesta on in midfield and see if he could give more confidence.
|Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers Your Report added by Pilgrimblue at 20:17:24|
Like or lump it this was MM's team playing to his style. He tried a more attacking game and it didn't work so he's reverted back.
Reg provided much needed energy and deserves more than being a sub. He made his goal by not giving up!
Best game from Skuse for ages, he even tried a shot.
McG isn't a forward and while he looked good on the ball at times, he didn't win anything in the air and wasted too many passes plus he was caught off-side too often. Would prefer Freddie.
However thought Tom was excellent. Determined, great free kicks and loads of pace. He deserved his goal.
Bart was terrific, what would we do without him!
Dougy did his usual (ie not much) but MM likes him. Williams would be better option IMHO
Webster not quite back to his best but still our best defender.
Ward finds a way to score and was everywhere, very good buy.
|Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers Your Report added by Rammo at 19:53:11|
A case of two mediocre sides, QPR being slightly worse than we were. Town looked better the more the game wore on mainly due to QPR pushing further forward to try and get back in it, credit is due to Smithies as after the awful mistake for the second he kept the score respectable.
|Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest Your Report added by cooperd5 at 10:02:36|
Dire match with very little to cheer for as a Town fan. 17sec from our own kick off! Unreal.
Assomablonga a class act, watched him at Southend and thought we should buy him.
We need something, players looked lost with no direction or idea. Negative football.
|Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest Your Report added by Umros at 07:48:19|
I guess we do the same but is anyone else getting utterly sick and tired of time wasting in football, the slow pace of getting a ball back for a free kick, the subtle rolling of the ball further away from where it should be taken, goal keepers taking as much time as possible, drinking, kicking posts, berating their defence not looking interested in getting the game going again, you take the free kick or throw in, no you take it, no not me someone else, players going down not injured to break the play. All this happened yesterday, particularly the NF GK and the ref does nothing., a couple of bookings straight away would sort this out! It shouldn't be tolerated when it's so obvious, it's not fair on the paying customer, I don't go to watch this. Sort it out the powers that be!!!! Rant Over.
|Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest Your Report added by Keith01062 at 21:57:04|
All you MM lovers surely now see sense. He is killing this club with his appalling football. Look at deteriorating crowds. At least there's one positive, and thats certain people in the south stand who state they are Ipswich through and through but moan constantly and never support team and barrack the players constantly. At least they have now got karma.
|Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest Your Report added by Pilgrimblue at 20:09:35|
What a mess, MM has no idea. His failure to find replacement for Murph is costing us dearly. McG isn't the answer against bigger defenders. JK was a nightmare whereas Emanuel did well so why take him off! Guess MM will say we missed Webster and while did I doubt he'd saved us from this embarrassment .