|Mullet added 21:10 - Apr 16|
"Super Mick McCarthy" rang out filling the cavernous Hillsborough's historic, cavernous stand as below his orange huddle readied themselves. Sleet, sun, rain and wind gave a sense of four seasons in one day and so did his selection. Back to the back five so familiar. A midfield of Bru and Dougie with Foley right and Feeney left. McGoldrick and Sears a rare strike partnership in the most orthodox of 4-4-2's.
Two teams that had playoff ambitions long before they met today, two teams that so often started slowly. How different that would be as Bru scooped a ball down the left flank with the outside of his boot exquisitely. Sears closed, cut and cautioned the hosts with a fine but firmly slowed shot.
Despite the solidity of a much changed side, whether through injury or not, Ipswich had the better opening minutes and the better openings. Feeney was afforded room and range, between him and the strikers with support of Knudsen Town raced at Wednesday, but gained little but ground.
The home side are evidently a good side, but overshadowed as the ball went from Westwood to Joao all too often as they grappled with Town's energy and Berra easily dealt with the big 18. The senior heads looked far more screwed on today as he and Bru particularly looked much improved. Alongside him Smith fetched and carried the ball from punt to glove and the blues had to find new solutions to the problem of missing Murphy and Skuse.
The flanks would prove fruitful, with McGoldrick whirring in the middle but struggling to run things. Town players pushed and pulled but unlike the hosts their best play in the final third remained too close to the corners as the ball never looked much like returning to the centre circle.
That was until a rare lump from Westwood was allowed to bounce, the strikers pounced and big man Joao ambled and scurried just too wide with the ball and his shot across Bart and the post. Pressure grew and the quality of home side's front four told as every long ball forward was met with movement and intent. Previously only a corner which was contained and then excellently cut out on the 6 yard line from Douglas looked likelier. It was perhaps the one moment of unquestionable quality from him one might point to. He was a master of one touch football this afternoon, and this was one of the righter ones.
Sheffield grew in front of Town's goal as we struggled to get close enough to find theirs. The early quarter of an hour of Suffolk domination came to us often containing and trying to counter. When Bart came to collect a cross he punched air and diverted the ball off Bru. The midfielder adjusting quick enough to see the danger away in what would have been a cruel opening.
That would come soon after, the Mauritian failed to intercept this time as the ref got in his way, play continued out on the left and from their right wing Wednesday attacked. Pressure mounted and Town were forced to hoof for the first time. Retention of the ball spread across the back four all half with Skuse absent, his colleagues showed they could shoulder the load of short passes in his absence.
Wednesday however opted to go long again. Despite us two having two right backs down that side they worked their way in behind the defence. A scrappy passage of play eventually cannoned off of Berra and then Joao. It cruelly dropped to Forestieri without a marker near him. A simple smash-in and Town were behind just as the half time whistle was due. 1-0, as Blues felt the urge to kneel.
Town had risen to the quality of a much better opposition, but ultimately what was a more static 30mins were most obviously signified with McGoldrick being the most disappointing of the eleven. Chasing players that had long passed him by was his greatest expenditure overall.
Sheffield were nowhere to be seen during the break whilst our subs all had a kick about. Only the observant would have seen one missing. With the home side still not present a lone figure stood under the electronic board waiting to come on. Mick had gone Maverick as his team's plan A had failed and Foley was harshly hooked - in his place Andre Dozzell. 4-4-2 became 4-2-3-1 as the youngster sat between Feeney and Sears now on the right, Didzy again cut a lone figure.
Ten men and a boy went at Wednesday from the off, but the opening attack was for Forestieri to have an early but saved shot. With all eyes on the debutant youngster, the atmosphere was again electric. The first half had seen only blues singing, recounting songs of old, that had given away to poisonous hissing clouds after the opening goal. A sight of the future had us all looking forward again now.
With Sears on the overlap Town still relied heavily on the left side but moved the ball better down and across the field. However neither he, nor Chambers really found a cross that counted when countering. Wednesday continued to attack and throughout the game Bart was called upon to make saves, the shadowing and hustle of familiar defenders was enough often enough to frustrate and ferry danger away. However when their front two combined to let Bannan skip through the little winger failed to drive home an easy second.
Despite a good game the Pole would match his first half recklessness and nearly score a bizarre own goal when he came and clattered the ball against his captain in heart wrenching haste. Somewhere on the bench Gerken may have smiled wryly, as later this was atoned with a smart save at the near post once Joao had been tasked to test Smith with better success.
If Town were second best in terms of attack, they still had enough to counter. When Feeney was bizarrely adjudged to have fouled his marker by outstripping him and stepping over his feeble tumbling frame the loaned ranger was rightly incensed. When he got free on another occasion he made no mistake. Held up and with Knudsen on his shadow the Trotter skipped and danced his way back on his stronger foot and whipped in a superb cross. With expert timing and movement an unmarked midfielder jumped at the chance and guided his header over Westwood with expertise.
When the teenage Dozzell rose at the near post to equalise he must have kicked up a fair amount dust. By the time some of us regained our composure and finished celebrating, the teenager had McGoldrick's hand on his head as the striker made sure we all acknowledged the moment. Some Town fans were now old enough to have seen both father and son play and score for the club, some besides them old enough to see both generations of the family achieve the feat on their debut.
From father to son to the Holy Spirit of football, deflation gave way to the gust of elation on a day of meteorological tumult. Back in fine voice behind the goal, those attacking it passed and moved that little bit better. If the Wednesday back line had had their heels snapped at by a boy, it was now a man sitting in central midfield as McCarthy removed Bru. Having a minute before the goal been attacked by what looked like a mascot initially, but turned out to be the smaller than Jay Tabb Wallace. The ensuing handbags after a small passage of forgettable play saw both booked for their actions and reactions.
Pitman replaced the midfielder Minutes later once the game was level, whilst Mick again took his picks and shuffled them around. A new 4-4-2 with McGoldrick alternating between midfield and attack. Douglas happy to be the lynchpin so defensive he found himself sweeping the ball forward to the central defenders more than once. Town now looked faster and played looser.
There was an ebb and some commendable flow to a game that both sides were up for, and both wanted to win for similar reasons. Wednesday again threw on attackers and pitched up on the edge of the Town box. If the McCarthy bandwagon had slowed and got a little lighter of late, he wasn't about to circle it and ride out the fixture.
With the game reaching it's conclusion the home side threw on attacking sub after sub. Even once he made the pitch Hooper wasn't the most obvious example of scum to grace it. The diving and devious Forestieri lumped defenders and shots high and wide, finding the stand and being unable to do so on several occasions.
When recent critic of McCarthy Nuhiu emerged to more boos, the delicate 20 stones he threw about like his own lack of self-awareness did little but bounce of Berra like so many crosses and headers had all game. In fact towards the end it allowed one of several breaks for Town. With the second half finely balanced and legs getting tired it was McGoldrick who moved back into his own. Throughout the second half he showed greed and guile to curl balls just beyond or just to close to Westwood, his best effort on goal incidentally his last. But it was a performance that got better but showed all the selfishness and empty promise of Tory campaign slogan. However the game would end in more controversial style for his team mates.
Again the Owls aerial bombardment was repelled as Town rushed forward. Not Sears, not Feeney, but the much improved Knudsen. If the left back had been largely in control of his faculties all game, he picked the wrong moment to lose them. Flying down the line he screamed a low ball across the face of goal. There waiting alone to tap in a winner was the well placed Pitman. No sooner had it gone out then the islander set about trying to do what Knudsen hadn't and find his team mate.
First McGoldrick held him back, then TC and then Mick who had already spoken to the understandably evasive Dane. Smash and grab perhaps the win would have been, but come Monday the fences hopefully mended between the two. Not since Burnley has a draw with a team this good away from home, seemed so good. Since Burnley a lot has happened. Whether Marcus feels it's not time to make change, his charges may not yet relax and take it easy. However as the game started so it ended with a rousing chorus of "Super Mick" whilst the Yorkshireman and his men walked to, and not from the tunnel reflecting on today's score draw.