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Ipswich Town v Crewe Alexandra Your Report added at 21:17:03
Well here we are... 10 games in, joint top of the table, : 7 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses, 16 goals scored (only Peterborough have scored more), 7 conceded (only 3 teams lower in the division). So that's good, yes? Well after being - in the main - second best to a lowly funded Crewe Alexendra, perhaps its time to join the 'Shambert' bandwagon and say we're papering over cracks? Well no, not really.
Today watching Town against Crewe was like a Mick McCarthy Town match-day experience, inferior technically and in possession share, but robust defensively and more effective in limited attack. And I'd take that today, as long as I don't have to be subjected to it too often.
What i've liked about this season has been the consistency of selection, formation/tactics/system (4-3-3) and the technical ability of players to execute the pass and move, provision of movement of options. Where we've struggled is the execution of the tactic of playing out of the back at times - I think this can be solved by the exciting youth of The Wolf and our Arsenal loanee, and the ability to flood the box and bring number forward quickly.
For those negative about this season at least we are playing with identity, Lambert has given Dozzell and Bishop a place and system to shine, in Hawkins a proper foil, and at times (not consistently) some wide attacking bite in Edwards and Sears. I particularly the steel and experience at fullback Lambert has cemented. Ward is a massive signing, praise it.
BUT, have we got over my continuous niggling concern that has come from ALL Marcus' managerial appointments - are we being coached to be technically/tactically superior to our league peers? Is Lambert finally going to PROGRESS us.... hmmmmm?! the good news is there is progress, significant. Crewe and Doncaster's moment of real technical brilliance worry me, but I don't think it's panic stations, and again we are passing, we are consistent and we are winning!
So more detail on the game - I was pleased Lambert stuck with the young central defender duo. Its a credit to our manager highlighted the need and sourced such a good player in McGuiness. Our manager was right, in his new ethos, to stick with Toto and Wilson due to some fantastic performances - but The Wold and McGuiness are technically better players, and I thought both were excellent today. The Arsenal U23 captain had some minor negatives, but I love how he attacks the air.
Overall 44% possession at home and 6 versus 14 shots is no where we want our beloved Town to be performing at fortress Portman Road, and I was bizzarely pleased that Lambert was much more critical of the way we played. It wasn't good enough. BUT, I thought Crewe were fired up, very well coached, and a challenge. You have to agree that there are no longer 'easy' games in this league, the standard of every opponent seems to have raised (cue the - its a sh!t league, we deserve me to be out sh!t).
Whilst we didn't fire today, I still enjoyed much of our play and hey - WE WON!
If you're going to get promoted, then win when not fully firing - and THEN BEAT CLUBS LIKE SUNDERLAND (which is the missing link this season).
Our defence was good today, not perfect, but good. And out goalkeeper was excellent, big kudos to Hole. Success in football comes from individual players stepping up and owning a game. Have enough and you succeed. Our back four, our goalie, Bishop and Hawkins excelled today and brought the result. Dozzell also had moments.... but is there a risk with his consistency? I LOVE WATCHING HIM THOUGH... isn't it also making your week? or are just bringing your sh!t prejudices to spoil it all?
Crewe had the best of the first half but we still managed to have those effective breaks, and get some of the triangles working... but we spluttered. The we came into our own start of the second half, and through some nice play and a well worked corner... a superb and very positive headed finish from Hawkins. So pleased for him.
So what else of note... I was pleased by Jackson's energy, and just a few small things from Lankester make me feel again these will make our 'best team'.
Get Huws AND Lankester into the Sunderland team - lose Sears and Judge (albeit don't right off the Irishman, he can do positive things) and perhaps that BIG TEAM win will come.
Better to wobble against a very technical and fired up lower level team, that at the Stadium of Light.
Still concerns... BUT COME ON, enjoy this, and BACK IT.

Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 10:15:15
Well that game will go down in memory, not for the score or the result, but more for the gale, the downpour, the 18min delay, and the amusing reaction from the 1,300 Blue Army, “get your fork out for the lads”, “we’re Ipswich Town, we play in the rain”, “sh!t ground, 3 stands”. The Town performance was also memorable, in difficult conditions, to a man the Ipswich players put in a real shift, energy and closing, real effort in difficult conditions. It was not our most polished or ‘on the deck’ display. When we did get it down and pass/move in triangles we had real joy, but due to the conditions and a fear of mistakes (and perhaps an instruction) we tended to go direct and long in the majority of situations. I think also Lambert had seen that Rotherham’s more direct and physical play had unsettled Oxford on the weekend and wanted to replicate.

Oxford’s ground is well out of Town and suffers for it, with only a cinema/bowl complex offering a pre-match option. It is also only fed by a single road in the final approaches and this was completely jammed, even with an 8k crowd, which must have been lower than expected due to the weather putting off locals. Beers and food in Oxford much the better option, and it’s a city with some really good pubs.

I liked the look of Oxford as a team, they were technical. Every player could control the ball, lay off short, head with accuracy, move into space. They are clearly very well coached and trained, and their manager Karl Robinson is one to watch. Their left winger was unplayable. And they looked threatening on the edge of the box (13 shots, 4 on target). But it was credit to the Town players that we in general nullified them. I think to get 51% possession at their place is impressive. When Oxford did go up a gear we did struggle to get close to them, and in some ways the conditions suited us better than them. They’ll push for an automatic spot and will spank a few teams on the way.

I think we’ve had worse refs this season, and he was getting real stick when he was kicking the ball over the wet area of the pitch to test it ahead of the restart. A real talking point was the penalty shout in the first half with Norwood running through, I felt there was a definite pull back on the edge of the box and then the arm on shoulder by the penalty spot would be given 7 times out of 10, more so with the contact earlier. Robinson himself stated he thought it was a penalty, but the ref was balancing out a Norwood foul at the beginning of the exchange. In a way it was a move that justified our more direct style. Jackson may have suited the game better, with more mobility than Norwood. Norwood’s touch was little off during the game, he still did a lot of hard work and the defenders must have hated him. But Keane was the better of the two, and probably our man of the match.

I thought it was positive that Town stayed out on the pitch and passed and trained whilst the delay was on, also receiving a team talk. We carried on being the better team in the first half after the enforced break mid-way through, whilst Oxford had retreated to the dressing room during the pause in play.

Robinson and the Oxford pundits on local radio felt that Ipswich and Rotherham were by far the best teams Oxford had played and a draw was fair given their better chances and improved second half display. They were impressed by our strong midfield and waxed lyrical about Norris’ second half save from a 25 yard Oxford blast.

Despite Oxford’s better second half, I felt the last 10mins was when Town looked most threatening with Sears on and Keane continuing to cause havoc. We started to get it down more and play triangles on the right wing, with Downes now in his full pomp. Multiple corners, but probably didn’t carve out a clear enough chance in that period. But encouraging to finish so strongly. 5-3-2 is clearly suiting us as a team and should be continued.

I should add that Lambert received good support from the away fans, with multiple songs from and waves back to the travelling blues. Especially of course when he got into his usual touchline shenanigans with the 3rd official and Robinsons staff.

So, to the individual player’s performances:

Norris – justified his selection, with a good display. The Oxford keeper was struggling with kicking, albeit wind against. But Norris handled the conditions well. He made the key save and should continue in goal on that display.

Chambo – back in form for sure. A few errors but more up the pitch. He and Wolfenden only made one or two forays forward, where it looks like they’re about to get vertigo. But the centre backs had to be and were on their game tonight.

Wilson – he’s the deeper, no nonsense defender, and at times he just does launch it. But perhaps you need that at this level.

The Wolf- this boy is class. You can see the other teammates know he’s a ball player and move into space when he’s on the ball, as he has the ability to find them. He was good out wide defending. And his clearances were the best of our centre backs. Please stay, and I loved Lambert’s comments on the referenced Blades valuation – “you can’t get a flake for 3million”.

Edwards – I’m one of his biggest critics, but he was much better defensively. Like all the midfield it wasn’t very crisp as times, but he did cause problems. And his work rate and focus were much improved.

Garbutt – for me the loanee has been one of our most influential players this season. This was one of Luke’s weaker displays, more that he was a little error prone in passing, and the conditions did not favour him. He was also under pressure. He still did a lot right.

Huws – well if he comes through that game without a niggle, then we have our Welsh star back with a vengeance from his long-term injury!! I never thought I’d see him play like that again. In his position he was right in the BOG! And was running like a nutter, flying in. A big difference tonight. Now I have to say it was a bit headless at times, and he went down blind alleys and misplaced some passes, but it was a more Skuse performance, against a good opposition. He’s a must starter. And against lesser teams he can also feed Judge and the wings.

Downes – he’s as big a prospect as The Wolf, and despite not being as visible tonight he was working hard. Probably only showed real influence on the game going forward in the last quarter. But when he and Huws hunted in packs, we can dominate midfields.

Judge – again like so many players in the position, it wasn’t as polished and as technical a display from our number 10. But he’s clearly relishing the number 10 role – why the feck did Lambert play him wide in midfield. One memory of the night – apart from the monsoon and pre-match Masala Dosa - was Keane’s three chest down for Judge’s blasts from the edge of the box (they were all wide, but I liked the intent). Did he hurt the opposition enough? Perhaps not, and whilst the front 3 did look menacing, there’s more to come in cutting teams open – again conditions hampered this.

Norwood – as stated, probably not his best night, missed some flicks and short passes in key areas/passages of the game. But he is just such a nightmare for the defenders which freed up Keane.

Keane - one of the best games I’ve seen him play for us. He looked fresh and far more mobile than I can remember. His close control really causes problems to the opposition. Wish he’d had more chances. But the Oxford defenders stopped our attackers ‘inside the area’ activity with real energy.

It was a good physical performance in trying conditions, against a good technical team. In some ways our display was in a McCarthy stylee, when Mick was doing well. Physically dominating better technical teams with energy and a direct style. Nothing wrong with that, albeit you’d say the style Robison is embedding will reap greater rewards in the long term, and we should mirror.

Overall it feels like Town have their mojo back and we need to turn this revised confidence immediately into points, to drive to the top of the table. Tranmere (a), Lincoln (h) and Rotherham (a) in the remainder of January, needs to see 6 points to turn this near-term form into real momentum to take Town into a crucial February. February looks a month where we’ll decide our promotion fate. I really hope the Tranmere game is on, as these boys want to get back on the pitch. COYB.
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 23:09:32
Well well what can you say about tonight? A lot.

Firstly a few beers at the Market Porter at Borough Market and some excellent food. A short train trip to South Bermondsey in a carriage well populated by blues - and indeed what a turn out from the blue army. Felt like close to 2,000 in the ground, the fans returning for the goals and improved form. Fans emboldened by the diminishing reputation of Millwall fans sang fairly constantly, and the flurry of goals from both sides made for a cracking atmosphere on a lovely summers evening.

Tonight was a strange old match. To win is an amazing feat given the number of senior players injured - and at half time the subs warm up was like a kinder garden, summing up the limit in available players.

Perhaps this lack of players has forced Mick into a more attacking line-up, or perhaps he fully knows that last seasons turgid football was unsustainable with the fan base. But tonight's performance was very ‘un-Mick’ the defending at times was comical and lacked direct urgency throughout. But who frickin cares!!! We scored 4 and we won.

The difference this season are our Rangers players and a rejuvenated McGoldrick, the latter was superb at times. But I actually he can play better and add more to the team.

Millwall are no easy opposition and indeed they were for the most part superior to us technically. The negative for me tonight was our easy surrender of ball, and some shocking punts, mainly from Knudsen, who had a strange night of mixed quality, at times with positive crosses and defending.

Indeed our defence was mixed Iorfa I love, but he and Spence and our battling heroic captain had really wobbly moments albeit against a strong Millwall front line.

Ward also had an up and down night, when he found space he looked electric and was able to set-up the wonderful trio of garner, waghorn and mcgoldrick. I thought sears had a good night, he's. It threatening the goal enough but he was running at defenders and causing issues, and critically tracking back.

Last season we really didn't attack in numbers, but this season we have the capability to do so, and we simply must and for longer periods. When we sat back and starting punting we really fell apart and some of the technical deficiencies of our play and available squad came to the fore.

But hats off to Mick and the boys, injury crisis, horrible ground to visit and yet we get the 3 points. Confidence breed form and we have that now. Let's keep up the gung-ho styler… and perhaps with a bit more composure and returning there is a run to be had.

I would state that Marcus should splash the cash on a high quality premier league centre back loan - don't get me wrong spence did himself proud despite some calamities, but perhaps now is the time to strengthen and capitalise on this mini run of form.

COME ON YOU ATTACKING BLUES - proud to support Ipswich again!!
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 08:59:21
Well that was fun, and despite a few lingering concerns a game to take a lot heart from as we continue to ponder Ipswich's prospects for the 16/17 season.

On paper Norwich had a far superior starting eleven, and 3 midfielders that we would love to poach - in our dreams. And indeed for 20 minutes after their against the run of play goal Norwich's midfield purred. Despite that insight into the quality gap, Ipswich probably deserved the win. Chances in the start of the first half and the closing stages, and some exciting width, shading this passionate encounter.

Despite the disappointing circa 24k attendance, derided on announcement by our East Anglian 'cousins', this had a big game feel. It's not just the number of people, it's the buzz of excitement. The fan zone was pretty good, the pitch, sun, clapper things stuck in the seats, and the packed North and away ends made for a real sense of anticipation. Numerous mates had stayed away, a combination of holidays, Sky, early kick off and Mick's style being the weak excuses. So I don't think you can blame the poor turn out on any single factor.

So how did Mick's Ipswich play? Generally the energy, bite and tracking were fantastic. And earnt at least the point. The noise of the North combined with some tenacious Douglas, Berra, Bru and Berra dogged play, ruffled Norwich, they couldn't get into the game. And ward and Murphy started to get joy - we had tempo. My biggest ask from Mick and the team would be to continue that into Saturday and Preston. We had multiple corners, we stretched Norwich for 20mins. Murphy had a superb chance, and I do think our talisman is showing his 10 goal a season form at present, rather than that fine streak of a few seasons back.

Even in this glorious spell, we still went back into type into numerous occasions, with poor early long distribution, cheap turnover of ball, wasted impetus. It's the elephant in the room with this team. And must be eradicated, in Grant, and Bishop and the missing young Evertonian, maybe we have the solution. As indeed after their goal Norwich showed us how to do it - short incisive passing, began to tear into us, their goal real class. Their manager bemoaning afterwards that they only got I got that gear for 20 mins, but to be fair Ipswich refused to allow it. And our defence was just too strong. Webster and Berra were just excellent, tough, horrible to play against. Webster will relish a more dynamic midfield in front of him, which surely will come with Bishop fully fit, and weaker opposition.

In Norwich's purple patch, Ipswich started to lump aimless ball, not to Murphy's feet which he lives and led to our goal via linking with the improved Sears. Sears still remained too wide in my view. Even Ward started getting the Ipswich disease with some speculative hit and hope. Ward is a revelation to me, a superb signing by Mick, a player worth the admission, to get fans returning. He refuses to play poor distribution in the main, and when Bishop was also on, we started to use the ball so effectively against a tiring Norwich, we started to punish them with Knudsen drawn up the field, and Sears and Murphy loving the interplay. And of course as Leicester show so well, once you start to mix your game, with bishop bringing canary defenders out the longer ball starts to work, and Murphy had a great chance to break through - was he tripped or just shattered?!

Bishop had a great chance to seal it, just the sheer impetus from Town stretching Norwich, he could centred but shot at the hapless keepers legs.

Lots of lessons, lots of hope, but let's take this energy and in part more cultured approach into the Preston game.

Pride of Anglia restored.
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 19:51:34
So what do you want to know my dear blue brothers and sisters? Do you want to relive a day out at Ashton Gate? Well then, let us begin…

Bristol is a fine fine City, I spent a number of years living there and it was great to return. Apparently there is a mass exodus of ‘young bright things’ from London taking place, which is changing the west country vibe, but ‘Bristle’ still has an alternative energy and set of drinking establishments that Ipswich and Colchester can only dream of. I managed to visit quite a few on Friday night, allowing a strangely welcome fluffy start to match day, and without the horrors of delayed trains from Paddington.

A prolonged stroll down from the merchant centres of Clifton and Redland through the city centre and harbour side, via pubs and a superb pie emporium, was just great. Although did lead to a slightly late entry to the ground and to the join the massed ranks of the blue army, a blue army that was to remain fairly muted due to a lack of ‘nourishment’ on the pitch, and which in my area became a little fractious come the end. Perhaps unfairly in my opinion.

Ashton Gate is undergoing a much needed transformation and will become a fine stadium. The ground only has 3 sides currently hence the sell-out, with a huge new stand under construction to the left of the Suffolk massive. They have 2 fairly large single section stands behind the goal, with their equivalent of the Churchmans breaking into song towards the end, as the reality of 3 crucial points sunk in. Not for the first time I thought to myself that Ipswich did miss a trick in creating 2 broken banks of fans in the Sir Bobby and Sir Alf.

For me it felt like a club on the up, both on and off the pitch, and my two Bristolian mates (mates mates mates, views opinions views) perhaps should start to attend. Interestingly the pitch was in really good condition despite having recently had a rugby match, and being a shared ground with the Bristol rugby union team .

I reviewed the team on the pitch and it seemed to be 4-4-2 with Foley and Bru in the middle and AMN and Pringle tucked in as wider midfielders and with Sears and Murphy up front. But in the early stages Pringle seemed to come much more central and for me impressed. Indeed this was not a terrible Town performance despite the result, Town were far better than at QPR, and in a way I preferred much of Pringle and Foley’s play to much of what Douglas, Skuse and Hyam have delivered. Perhaps they haven’t yet been doctored into the ‘new Ipswich way’, perhaps that will happen soon. Because let’s not mistake an improved performance to QPR as any progress. This was yet another game where Ipswich looked significantly inferior in terms of technical ability and shape. This seems to be the conclusion from most game this season. Bristol City deserved to win, they played far better football and a draw would have flattered Ipswich.

I had the pleasure of a really good group of fans around me in the stands today. 2 blues nearby were Bristol based, lovely lads and from the off they said Bristol are really strong in the air at the back, Flint especially, and where they’ve been losing games if the opposition players pass and move in and around the centre backs. No sh!t Sherlock. Did Mick’s management team do any homework before this game? I am deadly serious! Because Murphy physically could not win the ball in the air against these man mountains. And then the man mountains moved up for set pieces, and combined with some defensive errors, BOOM! we’re 2-0 down. To be honest we should have lost today by a much larger margin had it not been for 2 or 3 frankly world class saves from Bart, just magic and a highlight for the day as a Town fan. Just like Loftus Road. Gerks better?! just please do me a favour.

But the telling thing today was the Town shape and system, it was crystal clear today that Mick is still miles away from sorting the glaring issues in Ipswich Town’s play. The blinkered muppets who continue to back this season without question who fall back onto Jewell and Keane’s failures and ‘saved from relegation’ mantras, who talk about fans who ‘expect too much’ and want the ‘moon on a stick’ need to frickin wake up and smell the scrumpy, because I would suggest that Bristol City team has a lower wage bill than Town, but it was Ipswich who were made to look like the relegation fighters and City the play-off contenders.

But I digress. Town were not awful, and indeed we had 53% possession and a higher pass completion stat than Bristol but perhaps these are meaningless stats. The issue today was shape and passing and movement – AGAIN! We tend to push the forwards up, then the midfield pushes up and then the back four have no movement in front of them, so the default is to punt long. Positively the Ipswich players seemed to work out than Murphy was being dominated in the air and actually tried to break this failed modus operandi, with Pringle really combining well and getting the ball around, but unfortunately Bru did not step up today, he was poor. Now I’m not sure it’s because the movement was so bad around him, or he just didn’t know his role, but he was just unable to find that killer pass.

I just want to tell you a key thing from today MY KINDRED ARMY, the Blue’s were passing it around OK across the back and I looked to Mick and he was just shouting at them to go long, clear as day, and the hapless Chambo (who had a bad day at the ‘CB pretends to be RB’ office) punted the ball in to touch. The guy in front of me just went ballistic and who can blame him. Remember this was an instruction to go long against a team that was from the land of giants, and who mopped up everything in the air. The fan in front of me was just abusing Mick as he came down the tunnel at the end, and I have sympathy with him.

Smith was excellent today and is a fine defender. Knudsen was roundly abused, but as always seemed to grow into the game with one excellent block in the second half. I just happen to think that Knudsen is not suited to our long ball game and the lack of movement, he wants players around him for short passes, not being pressured into blasting long. Having said all this, Town did have some passages of play where we got the ball down and moved through a number of players, but it was like we couldn’t get Murphy, Sears and Pitman into space, on the floor, and we couldn’t move the opposition around the pitch to create space, and critically we couldn’t raise our energy and tempo to batter the opposition into mistakes.

What else to say? AMN was ineffective, Berra had a rare game where he was bullied, Pitman was good when he came on but lacked the service that he likes – on the ground, on the back of the defender – it’s not rocket science! Vardey was willing, but he was forced to go with PLAN A (cause it’s the only one we’ve got) and cross in the air 2 or 3 times for the mutant Bristol City backs to just mop up. Yes I guess we missed Skuse, and Hyam, and we desperately need Bishop back but for me it’s having a clear understanding of a flexible system that works, that’s when we’ll progress.

Still it’s been a great trip, met some lovely blues, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, just wish we could get a bit more excitement out of our play. 15 goals and 5 points off a Sheffield Weds side who are passing and entertaining says it all! But it ain’t over in this mad league till it’s over, and we’ll have a much stronger team to continue our Tuesday night glories against Hull in 10 days time. COYFB!
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 23:32:45
Oh my dear blue brothers, here we are again, losing and lost. The Premiership dream slipping away from us again.

One felt that frisson of excitement, that pre-match belief that anything is possible, that we can correct the course of this blue ship. Some of the streets and pubs around the stadium are boarded up, hundreds of homes sitting idle in 2017’s City of Culture, whilst London creaks.

During a quiet night at the impressive KC stadium, a silence that summed up the malaise of the Championship fan, we were always going to be out passed and outthought with our initial selection and system. And before we rallied with better personnel and shape early in the second half, the game was lost. And before long this season will be lost, and perhaps our manager gone and we’ll start yet again.

Our fans were just drained tonight, silent, starved of quality fare, we’re only their feeding our blinkered addiction, rather than being nourished by football of note.
Ironically we did have passages of passing in this game. Yes we were 3-0 down and Hull had switched off during the best spells, but oh wasn’t it nice to see the ball flicked around and runs from Sears, and great control and awareness from Bru.

I thought some reports were too generous of our first half performance, yes we made a few forays forward and Toure and Murphy showed glimpses, but the forlorn Chambers long punts and Coke’s best efforts had already tarnished the performance. Come on people aimless blasts to Murphy, it’s not a system or progress.

Mick needs to take much of the blame. Chambers is completely shot and needs a rest. Bru should have been started weeks ago. Indeed if Kevin Bru – by far our best performer tonight - does not start on Saturday then I’ll fully support the Mick out camp.
It was saddening to see how poorly Knudsen and Parr played tonight as I like those players and I can see they have talents and commitment.

Indeed I saw a mention of Mick getting more funds, no no no no no. We have a really good squad here. It’s the use and system that are wrong. Bru needs to start in central midfield, period. Sears needs to start in a front two pushed up, alongside Murphy (who is regaining form), period.

Douglas was better tonight, as were Berra and Smith. The full backs were the weakest link tonight, and I’m not sure Hull had to get out of second gear to beat us easily which is worrying.

Gerken was slow out on a few occasions, but was I suppose OK.

Come on Mick, play the right team, encourage passing from the start, fire up the boys, let’s get something on Saturday.
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 21:19:10
Well that was good wasn't it? No, I mean was it? was it?! I just can't tell anymore. Certainly the 17k fans for such a critical game suggests something is not quite right, combined with what I thought was a relatively subdued atmosphere until Fabiogate, then the 48% possession stat at home, plus being walked through with abandon, oh and a dodgy player choice, and of course sustained hoofing from the usual suspects - it all left one feeling a little odd at times.

But do you know what who gives a feck about these worries! The aesthete blue tribe (of which I WAS a fully paid up member, but now only a sympathiser) will continue to not buy-in to this Mick project. But last night the work rate of the Town players was just absolutely phenomenal! the purchase of Sears and also how Freddie has bought-in to Mick's ethos of everyone defends is just brilliant.

But let's just clear away some of those niggling concerns before the gushing. Hunt was atrocious, truly he had no touch whatsoever, and wasted his chance and place in the team. Anderson looked completely shot when he came on, he has nothing to give currently (well apart from the mandatory closing down). Our Polish keeper was looking decidedly unsteady to boot, his Cardiff peer completely steady in contrast. Also Chambo and Smith, whooooa, stop the fecking hoofin, "WHY DO THEY KEEP DOING IT?" (said the neutral mate I'd brough along). And yes why do you persist? It’s Freddie Sears mostly on the end of them, it brings the ball back on us, and in the case of Cardiff with pace and guile.

So yes Cardiff were good. Just dynamic, pace, short passing and movement. Everything we have in only 2 or 3 players only. What Cardiff lacked was a Freddie Sears and a Daryl Murphy. Mings and Berra stood up to the onslaught very well. Smith less so, but he still did what was needed.
This was a much better performance all round, yes some headless punting, but Berra showed how to be direct in the right way. I was right behind our first goal, and Berra really did look up before launching long. And of course Sears is just in the groove, albeit a handy deflection actually beat the keeper rather than Freddie’s strike.

But there were 3 things that stood out for me in this game, 3 MEN, Skuse, Bishop and Parr. These guys worked so frickin hard. I swear Parr was on steroids the amount of the game he was covering. But do you know the difference with these 3?? They also have touch, move and possess a short pass. It worries me when Mick lauds Varney in his post-match comments and hankers for his return. Yes Varney has added value, I like him, but it’s just too one dimensional. It encourages punting.

Probably the best game I’ve seen Berra play in a town shirt. Yes he had the wunder strike. And mein gut he hit that sweetly. But it was the interceptions, the spraying of the ball – sadly sometimes to Chambo/Smith for an aimless punt. But often to the excellent Mings.
Oh Mings – please don’t leave. He’s played better yes. But his athleticism and growing calmness shone out. And yes he does punt forward to get out of trouble sometimes, but he also breaks forward or finds the pass into central midfield.

Oh Daryl, yes he was up against a LARGE and also on form adversary in his Cardiff centre back marker, but he had his touch firing, and his partnership with Sears is growing by the game. His finish for the third was I thought superb, one of those stabs, which was him thinking faster than the keeper and giving him no chance.

So all in all a wonderful victory against a surprisingly strong team for their position. Bring on the Wolves. I think Skuse, Parr, Sears, Murphy are coming into form at just the right time!
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 12:59:23
Bournemouth are a very very good side. They will play in the Premiership next season and with some additions will give a very good account themselves. I do think they have defensive frailties though, and I just wish we could have played more football to expose them.

There's a lot of fans on here demonising Bournemouth, yes they go down easily, and I was as vocal as anyone booing and showing my disgust yesterday. But you have to give them credit for some excellent passing, ball control and movement THROUGHOUT the team.

I really enjoyed the first10-15mins yesterday, the crowd were really really up for it. And with the number of blues in attendance and with energy in all stands it made for a cracking start to the game. Its interesting how the energy of the crowd around me almost reflected my own changing emotions towards the the game. Absolutely loved the way we started, solid, full of energy, nones more so than Varney, but also through Skuse, Bishop, Murphy and Sears we were passing, doing one-twos, and getting wide and behind Bournemouth - with the Cherries needing some last minute defending to keep us out.

The goals was really well worked and there had been a number of other good moves. Well done to Freddie who put in a MOM performance with his running back as well as forward.

Then Bournemouth started to take control and we started to sit deeper. They just looked like a Premiership side, and as our game stagnated we started to look more a plucky division one side to be honest.

But that didn't matter for me, as personally I've re-calibrated my perception of Town. We under Mick and with our budget can't play like Bournemouth. So I was really supporting and praising the teams endeavour.

Then around me fans started to call for 'get the ball on the ground', 'pass it, pass it', 'nooooooo, don' lump it'. And the support was getting flatter.

The bottom line for me was that Skuse and Bishop were on form, as was sears, and when we did pass and run, Bournemouth struggled. But then every time a Centre back or full back got the ball we went long. When the keeper had the ball, despite having players to throw to, he went long. We resorted to every single play from the back being a lump to Varney, or ridiculously Sears. This actually made Bournemouth look even better, as they just mopped up this poor distribution, had the space to then play across their midfield, and then they were taxing our full backs with excellent wing play.

There was a period at 70mins when Bournemouth tired a little and we had a spell of 4 or 5 passes - and everyone round me lifted. Similarly when Chaplow was introduced and he managed to get it down and link wide with Murphy we threatened and we entertained.

No home crowd can be fully nourished by 37% possession (got that is embarrassing in fact) and 19 shots to 7.

So yes I am left a little flat after yesterday; I really admire the work rate and endeavour. But we have got to get the ball down for longer periods and let skuse and bishop dictate play, not the centre backs. Varney has been great but I worry his crazed running around mopping up - which should be praised - is meaning we are then keeping him in the team as a head to target. I would really like to see Williams or McGoldrick behind Sears and Murphy. It would encourage passing. A Bru, Bishop, Skuse middle 3 and kings back in the team, just feels more threatening, but I fear a default position of Tabb (who admire but his lack of quality is apparent) and Varney (who has impressed, but his touch lacks).

For me Wolves, Brentford and even hapless Derby are playing better football than us. And I think we need to just up our quality to match and to even look Premier ready, but also mix it up with our unique brand of energy and endeavour. I'm not expecting us to pass like Bournemouth, or have the runs of Brentford - but I want high energy, accurate long ball - BUT pass a little as to not give away possession cheaply!

Hopefully Huddersfield and Blackpool will give us this chance.

Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 23:19:26
Well, well, well. I didn't think we'd get the goal tonight our performance deserved and our season’s hopes required. But we did, and we go home happy.

We simply had to win. Brentford and Wolves got strong results. And even Norwich pulled a point from the jaws of defeat.

I have to say I am much happier with our style and shape of late. Yes, I think we are fatigued and lack 2 or 3 quality players to really threaten promotion and to put in a great performance, but we are passing the ball and stretching play, and if we can repair our confidence and maybe get McGoldrick back then maybe there's hope.

Tonight 5 players really influenced the game for me, Sears, Skuse, Bru, Tabb and Mings. Many other players had good moments and indeed Chambers had a strong game at right back - seemingly instructed to push further forward.

Bolton were no push overs and had a golden chance via the lively Rochinha. But our passing and chances deserved a goal in the first half. Sears missed a great chance when pressure and a mistake saw him through on goal. Sadly he flashed wide. But why he stood out for me tonight was that although his head initially dropped after the miss, he got back into the game and really pressured Bolton in possession but also showed moments of real quality and a reading of the game. I was disappointed when Varney came on, but I think Mick got that right, Varney put the work in. Sadly he does lack that cutting edge quality and I wonder where we'd be if Marcus had paid the money for someone of a higher level to push the forwards.

Micks other substitution probably won us the game. Bruuuuuuu almost stole the man of the match banner from Skuse tonight despite coming on jn the second half. Our young Mauritian just really grabbed hold of the game and he brought quality control and passing, but also tenacious tackling and hassling. A highlight being a good shot across goal which he created with running.

Speaking of running and shots - step forward Cole Skuse. Oh my word had our erstwhile holding midfielder been on the ready-brek? He had a glow and swagger about him tonight not seen for some time. Much is discussed about how Skuse doesn't work with Hyam, or he doesn't work with Bru. But frankly if Cole played like that every week he'd play well with my mum. He just had his engine going, but also he was running forward and also HAVING SHOTS. 3 at least! 2 in quick succession. My worry is that Skuse now won't perform like that again for months. But good on him.

Bishop had moments earlier when he was getting in between the lines. But he faded and it was right to substitute him. Our England U19 seemed to get a knock and his confidence dropped.

Mings was great. Couple of good wing runs tonight, he's not hitting the heights of earlier in the season, when he's hit the byline and then provide great service, but still he was running and stretching Bolton. It will be a sad day when his inevitable departure comes to pass. He is that quality that the team lacks in certain areas.

Now finally to Tabb – or TABBY as Mick and the Naked Football show would say. He was being set up to be the scape goat tonight. Heaven knows the abuse that was being lined up if we failed to get the 3 points this evening. And yes of course he is really lacking some of the flare and pace his wider role required, but he really did put a shift in, had some runs (ending in weak shot of course). But I was pleased he got his fortuitous goal and the plaudits from his team mates.

Watford will be a much sterner test than Bolton. All players will need to be on their game and Murphy will need to get his cutting edge and close control back. He has been our season and when he isn’t dominating defences our attack get a bit lost. Too many times tonight we didn’t really know how to open up Bolton. The answer came via Mings and Bru and at times Skuse, run at the defence stretch them and get it wide to Sears or Mings or have a go. As always it’s not tocket science football. And I just hope we can get our confidence going, keep the ball on the ground and use the obvious quality of Sears, Murphy, Bru, Skuse and Mings to threaten teams more.

Smith and Berra were better tonight, we were still too open and there were some errors but both made important interceptions and readings of the game.

Now to the night itself – I think the North Stand played a part tonight. It was a woeful attendance for our league position, and also some of the more entertaining home performances against Brum and Wednesday. But I think the songs kept going for longer periods and I do think it lifted the boys, even with the negative of kicking towards the North in the first period.

Anyway onwards and upwards. If we can get 4 points from the next 2 it will be a big statement and might get us into form at just the right.

Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 17:03:18
Well not a good day at the office for Town for a lunchtime game on Sky. It was a windswept stadium that was not as full as expected for such an important game, Sky coverage and ticket prices no doubt the cause. Derby's contingent was relatively small, but they were in good voice and will leave the stadium buoyed by this game.

Derby certainly didn't run away with this game, and the margin of victory was not vast, as there simply were not enough chances created. It was town who instigated their downfall with another defensive howler. Similar to the Saints defensive error, it was all about being decisive, and in this case Tommy Smith was the culprit. Our defence is so strong this term, but 2 recent errors must not become the norm, and we need to get back to consistency immediately.

Mick has done a cracking job at making our defence strong, and with the massively in-form Murphy and the wily McGoldrick, we have a strong attack this term. It is the midfield that remains the quandary. What is our best selection? Should we continue with the 4-3-3 that brought so much better passing football and the emergence of Bru and Bishop.

But there is no point getting carried away, I suspect this will be just a blip and normal service will be resumed against the sinking Millwall. We just need to get back to a bit more composure.

The question marks I raised at the start of the season were quite simple, do we go long too quickly and ineffectively in a poor system? is Paul Anderson up to it? is Stephen Hunt up to it? can Chambers be an effective right back? who will provide a Williams type attacking midfielder? Can Skuse and Hyam get goals and dominate the midfield? Many of these concerns have been quashed with some of our dominant and excellent performances in a fantastic run.

But today – and again let me repeat I expect this will be a blip – these concerns were all over this performance. The Derby midfield for a 30mins spell completely OUTCLASSED us – PERIOD, no debate, FACT. Hughes was sublime, purring, great ball skills, drifting about, pulling the strings. Great for the neutral. We were error strewn, Hyam was poor and Bishop could not come close to the quality of his young blonde adversary.

Anderson was muscled out of things too often. And Chambers, who has been excellent, was all over the place today, 2 or 3 missed passes and errors is OK, but 5, 6, 7, it’s not good enough in a big match, from the captain.

However, the biggest disappointment today was that we resorted to long ball for most of the first half. Snatched bangs up field, without composure. No taking a few touches and looking for the pass. Smith and Hyam, and at time Chambers, the biggest culprits. This negates the threat of Murphy, yes going long is good but when it is accurate and when you are feeding space. Murphy was kept quite with close marking, but it was exasperated by poor service, and our in for striker was not allowed to get into the game.

We did rally, and it was when we got it on the floor and got Mings into the game, alongside McGoldrick and Bishop that the blue army was buoyed. Pass and move. One of our best chances came in the first half with nice movement on the right, excellent pass, lay-off from Murphy and a banger from McGoldrick. If he’d have kept in down, perhaps a goal. Another nice move, led to a dummy and a great chance for Tabby, but he snatched at it rather than putting either side of the keeper for a certain goal.

Yes the ref had a shocker, and I thought it was a pen. Albeit many mates texted to say not. And it was the fact the town of recent performances didn’t turn up today, not the ref, that led to the defeat.
Mings was pretty good, and at least he gets it down, dribbles, brings players on to him. It was in the box today where he was failing. He seemed to lack of a bit of confidence, and those wonderful cut backs of a month ago, just weren’t coming. I think the Derby manager did something clever and put a winger right up-field and was encouraged to press up, effectively taking Mings raids forward in check.

Derby will go away with their view of us as long ball merchants and with limited ability confirmed – and certainly the ‘fans’ next to me who stated “we haven’t been for 4 years and we won’t be returning for another 4 years, £35 quid for this sh!t” will share that view. So such a shame town fell into there poor Sky performance mode of many years.

But I don’t think Derby were miles better, they just came across our midfield in a confused state, and looked far more cultured in that department – and of course we gave them a goal. I just hope Mick gets the team back on track and we murder Millwall – once the distraction of Southampton is out of the way. But are we to reliant on Bishop to keep our form going? Perhaps Marcus does need to invest in a Williams type player. A Hughes for Ipswich. I certainly don’t think Ambrose is the key.
Anyway onwards and upwards, lets get our shape and tenacity back, and let’s get Murphy in the game.

Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 11:15:51
Match Report, Ipswich 2 Wolves 1, Portman Road, 4th November 2014

Oh Portman Road under the flood lights after a couple of pints, it’s a joy, and matches against bigger clubs midweek are a season highlight. Certainly in-form Wolves had brought a strong following with them, near on 1000, with back to back promotions in mind, and a run of 13 games with only 1 loss. They only found their voice a few times, with most passion and volume being aimed at the referee, the man black did actually seem to favour Town a few times in the first half. I thought the Town support was a little subdued tonight, for what was a solid and at times exciting Ipswich display. Again the blue waves of attack are coming in 5 minute spells here and there, which buoys the crowd, and perhaps a greater atmosphere will come when we attack for longer sustained periods – I am convinced more attacking play will also attract the lapsed fans back to Temple Portman Road, taking the gate above the 20k mark. I did note some fans praising the atmosphere this evening, localised perhaps?

But I detract from a strong display. You really don’t want to play Ipswich at the moment. Kenny Jacket stated post match that Ipswich got in their faces and were winning all the second ball. "But Ipswich put pressure on us physically and we never exploited the spaces that were out there." And Town seemed to have a good shape to dominate the opposition and break up play. Wolves had the greater possession overall in percentage – perhaps skewed by a typical backs to the wall last 10 minutes – but they were not as effective as Town in going forward and using the ball. In Sako they have a beast of a player, but Berra had his usual imperious display against him, and restricted him to a few chances. Albeit the Wolves man could have done better with a couple of long range shots.

Before the game I have to say the 5 absentees worried me, especially the loss of Williams and Bishop, I expected a more agricultural display with those 2 missing – but the passing and footwork of McGoldrick, Mings, Bru and Hyamt sated the needs of aesthete fans such as myself. Note: Hyam’s passing game has improved greatly this season, and his value as a player is rising fast. The loss of Skuse in my mind was not felt. Hyam and the ridiculously mobile and terrier like Tabb, with Bru more advanced on the midfield 3, feels a much more balanced and effective midfield, compared to when we have Skuse and Hyam together in the same team. I do think Town were a little fortunate in that Wolves were not fully firing on the night, and this helped us. I think the energy of Hunt harrying up front and Tabb flying round the middle unsettled them. And Hyam is seemingly beefier than last season, and a fair but strong tackle from him early doors, meant the exit of a key Wolves player Dave Edwards.

For me Chambo, Smith and Berra sat deeper tonight, and just did the basics very well. Our captain Chambers, he of the fist pump, Chambers, really did not venture forth that much from his unnatural right back role, with Hunt and Bru providing any attacking sorties up the right. These were limited though, and the real threat was coming down the left with Hyam, McGoldrick, Murphy and Mings linking up well.

McGoldrick and Murphy are at the top of their game at the moment, none more so than our 30+ Irish international. His close control and confidence must be a nightmare; and you just knew he was going to score his second despite it needing a quality little chip over the advancing keeper. This took Murphy took onto double figures, and its only early November. McGoldrick’s defence splitting pass to set-up Murphy was beautifully weighted. ‘Goal’ David McGoldrick is of course the original king of close control, and the entrance fee (a reasonable £20 tonight) was worth every penny for those little interplays between McGoldrick and Mings, and often Hyam or Bru. And these exciting passages of play often led to a storming run by Mings or one of his jinks to the byline. What a player Mings is, what an athlete, and his guile and ability to dink into the box, approach the by-line, and despite the ball seemingly heading out of play, to loft in a cross or blast a low ball into the D. I hope he stays for this season and the next. But I would be very surprised if the swaggering Tyrone is not bought in the January window by a Premier league club.

Now I have to take a large plate, a massive set of cutlery, and carve myself a massive slice of humble pie. I stated that the signing of Hunt and Bru would not enhance the squad and support a promotion push. I was wrong, well in the most part. Hunt is an enigma. I would not start him over Williams, but Hunt was good tonight and is better suited to a forward role pushed up and running round like a Irish Peat Bog worker on speed. Wing, central midfield, or wider in a central 3 is not his position. Harrying up front and dropping deeper to pick up ball is his game. I have to agree with Mick Mills post match comment that he is not at the level of Murphy, McGoldrick and Mings in terms of his attacking effectiveness, i.e. shots on target or assists. But as a squad player he is adding value, and he will be key on Saturday if Williams is not fit. He is more effective, than the similarly energetic Anderson who is not threatening the first team. Bru, well he was vying with Hyam for 4th best player on the night behind the Murphs, McGoldrick and Mings pedigree players. There was great energy ofr Bru tonight, frankly we won this game through strong attackers and giving Wolves zero time to build passages of effective passing. And Bru, and Tabb, were key to this. But what was different for me about Bru tonight is he started to show some real class on the ball, nice close control, and good passing. I would like to see his passing completion accuracy, versus some of his earlier performances. As in this game he was very careful, but also adventurous at the right times with his use of the ball. Bru (“BRUUUUUU”… delivered as a ‘boo’ jeer ironically by the Town faithful) is larger than you think and he won a few aerial battles and held his own against a large Wolves team. With Hyam, Bishop and Skuse potentially out against an effective Watford side this Saturday, Bru will be pivotal and he could be staking a claim to a permanent place in a midfield 3.

So a great night, and strong performance. I do think Town shot themselves in the foot with the flukey goal, I was going to blame our stand-in keeper, but a Wolves player approached the looping cross and I think Bialkowski did have to change his position and hence was bamboozled. Worryingly it did seem to knock his confidence and he looked shakey for a period, which really good goalkeepers will not allow. Town did superbly to get the second and take the lead again, that is the sign of a team on form and brimming with confidence. A gripe would be of course that we went a little deep and did not press for a third. The last 10mins were painful as always, but again Wolves were not fully on their game tonight and that helped us to ride the storm. The hapless Sammon did add value in some of his dogged running and corner flag holding as Town ran the clock down. One final niggle is how off the pace and the lack of eagerness and energy displayed by Ambrose, I love Darren and his ability, but not sure he was the right type of player for the harrying role Mick clearly had in mind to close down the game. But onwards and upwards, a night of great close control from our pedigree 3 of Murphy, McGoldrick and Murphy. COYB.
Oxford United v Ipswich Town Your Report added at 11:38:32
Great result and superb to get 3 points against a relegated Premiership side. In the end that's what matters.

As with last year the away team dominated possession and were far superior in passing and movement, but Town's work rate, defence and sharpness up front were very strong today - ultimately it was a deserved victory.

The first half was dominated by Fulham; their fans singing 'ole' during one dominant period summed up the 60%. But our defence were hardly troubled and with Hyam and Skuse sitting very deep protecting, Fulham looked to have nothing in the final third. Our goal came from Hyam pushing further up the pitch, bringing the ball forward and feeding Murphy who finished superbly. It was the goal of a high qualIty striker - a striker who could make such a difference this season. Alas his Hungarian counterpart looked very much out of his depth. Hope he comes good, but the difference between he and Murphy seems large and when Didsy came on it completely changed aspects of out game. We suddenly were able to hold the ball and we put together a couple of nice passing moves.

For me Chambers was an enigma, in the first half he was defensively solid, but his lack of full back composure was exposed and he went long numerous times, or lost possession. Second half our captain came to life in the Fulham half, beating the man and providing good service. Our other full back Mings had an even more exasperating performance - he is blessed which such pace and languid ability that he does so much right. I really like him. But his performance had a lot question marks! His positioning and decision making was questionable and he sometimes hoofed. Having said that his forward passing has the potential to be far superior to chambers.

Smith and Berra were just class. Gerken however looked a little lost at times. And his save from his own error was more luck than judgement.

Skuse and Hyam was a funny peformance. Luke did better than his partner. More involved. But skuse had moments of good position and passing. They were very deep; and as a home side we really should have these guys more forward.

They were greatly helped when Didsy came on as he hold the ball so well and creates space for them to move forward into. The move and his goal were excellent.

Hewitt was good, and had some good plaudits, but I thought he flitted in and out of the game. Tabb had a positive game, albeit some frustrating moments.

So overall a great result. I think we played Fulham at just the right time, with very little bite. Harder games to come. Hopefully we can get Didsy fit. Replace Tabb, preservere with Hewitt. Not sure chambers, nor skuse, nor Gerken are the future. Mings may also be dropped after such a mixed peformance.

It's not pretty but it's effective.
Harrogate Town v Morecambe Your Report added at 22:48:16
Portman Road basked in glorious sunshine, spring had sprung, but the warm weather and optimism garnered from a revived play-off challenge failed to draw in the crowds. Forest fans had travelled in number, and were in good early voice. But the Town support grew as the Town players woke up for the second half - and it was quite raucous come the end.

It was the classic game off two halves. Forest's young, unproven side, were buoyed by a lacklustre start from Town. Williams was isolated from the off. And Forest enjoyed superior passing and running with the ball. This was yet another team coming to Portman Road and appearing far better with the ball, crisp passing and few errors. This was a Forest team in terrible form, and depleted by injury. A young starter Osbourne made his debut, and is well down the pecking order. Yet Mick decided on the more defensive Skuse over Wordsworth, but crucially continued with the failing Hunt and Anderson. Tuesday night's storming performance from Nouble (yes Frank) and the improving Wordsworth was clearly not part of a game plan keep it tight.

But in many ways attack is defense. Skuse and Hyam could not connect with the excellent Williams nor Murphy. And Hunt and Anderson continued their fashion of being unable to turn wide possession into meaningful attack or entry into the oppositions penalty area. Indeed Anderson failed in some defensive duties as well.

Forest were liberated, and scored a well worked goal, removing some of the much needed energy of the Portman Road crowd. Indeed Forest could have been 3 up by half time, with one excellent save by Gerken when the Forest striker really should have scored.

SEB was introduced I assume for an injured Anderson (who to his credit probably picked up when a knock trying to break though and being horribly blocked off by halford) and this forced Forest to sit deeper, and Williams was much more involved. He is a class player, and a joy to watch. He's worth the ticket, and we've lacked that exciting player since McGoldricks injury. The young Welsh maestro has such low centre of gravity, and is so strong on the ball, combine this with quick feet and he invariably either beats the man or draws the foul. Greening moaned about diving but Williams was just too sharp for him.

Into half time and you could see Nouble was being warmed up to come on immediately and so it proved. I have criticised Frank, earlier in the season some of his touch and decision making, plus his awareness did not strike me as being of a quality to become a true asset to the club. Again against Forest, following up a game changing sub appearance against Derby, he was dynamic and showed good control at his feet and an ability to beat a man and deliver good service. Mick and TC deserve great credit for believing and developing this player - who's strength and fitness was never in doubt.

So Micks half time talk and the removal of hunt and Anderson and a return to the more attack minded shape that finished so well against derby - Ipswich were transformed. Many at the bar at half time were bemoaning Ipswich's ability to not deliver for the big games. Well that worry was soon dismissed. Town were electric. This was entertainment, this was the kind of play people will return to see. Nouble and Williams were at the heart of everything. And hyam was bossing the midfield. Forest still retained a threat, and had one excellent chance. But smith and even more so Berra were imperious shepherding defenders wide and mopping up pressure. SEB's strength was causing problems and he had a great chance. One concern though was SEBs inability to beat halford onto through balls, there were many - this negative aspect may have had a lot to do with poor service with hyams distribution in question again.

But this is a small grip over what was a great second half performance. Numerous town crosses though were failing to trouble the tricky trees. And it was a moment of nouble class, receiving the ball short from a corner, breaking forward and delivering a measure cross for murphy. Murphy then had a golden chance he did everything right, but if only he'd seen Green completely free to his right, rather than focussing on getting the ball into his left foot for a shot.

Green did quite well when introduced, but I would have liked to have see Wordsworth as we needed some attacking passing to backfill the shattered Williams.

But in the end we didn't carve enough clear chances in the 2nd half - albeit murphy curled a lovely shot which was well saved, albeit it was pretty telegraphed.

A draw was a fair result given Forest's quality in the first half and the chances they carved.

So an entertaining and passionate match day, and we were happy in terms of spectacle. But the crowd size was disappointing. And I just wish Mick had gone for it with the attacking formation seen in the second half, from the off. Why play hunt and Anderson on their current form, over Nouble and SEB and Wordsworth.

But 7 points from Brighton, Derby and Forest is a good return. Especially as what was a very weakened Forest side actually gave a very good account of themselves.

Oh one foot note - Cresswell was looking a class apart today, real Premiership quality in terms of touch and passing. Only matched by Williams and a few Forest players.
Leyton Orient v Oldham Athletic Your Report added at 23:35:31
Well well well, nights like these make supporting Ipswich Town so magic. Yes we were technically inferior for large passages of the game, yes we were totally reliant on a young loan player for much that was entertaining and effective, and yes we carried 3 players contributing far less than their colleagues or than the 3 that replaced them. But this was a great Town performance full of fight and energy and commitment.

I went with a group of season ticket holders who are all planning to cancel their season tickets next season, "because we just don't enjoy it anymore" - as they went completely mental at the winning goal, perhaps they'll reconsider. Perhaps even Town will be in the Premiership to make them change their minds. A BBC Radio Suffolk caller bemoaned the size of the crowd given Town's position in the league. Well go figure, games like tonight have been few and far between this term, the prices are high, and ticket promotions are obscure - is it any surprise. But tonight we had ENTERTAINMENT, and the Suffolk jungle drums might start to inform the 'stay aways' that excitement has returned to the temple.

Yes tonight wasn't vintage Town, but there was energy and fight, there was some passages of good passing. But really the team were just up for it, there were no lulls or dull periods. It was a hard fought game, and Derby had the ability to pass and challenge Town.

Ipswich started the game quite brightly and were in fact in the Derby penalty area early on, when with 5 or 6 Derby passes the ball was in the Town net. I'm not sure that was a bad thing as Town had to press forward for the remainder of the game.

For the first half everything of note seemed to go through Williams. I thought the Hyam, Wordsworth pairing with Williams free in front go them worked well. And again Cresswell showed his rehabilitation into form, by joining the moves forward and passing shapes. Derby continued to threaten with intricate passing and movement, and their forward line was menacing. Albeit Smith and Berra managed to remain relatively in control (Berra made a last ditch and world class interception (again?!) in the second half).

Hyam was frustrating as for all his excellent hassling and tackling against a rugged Derby team, not afraid to get stuck in as well as to pass and move, Luke's forward distribution continued to disappoint. Wordsworth was doing simple stuff well. In the second half Wordsworth grew into the game tremendously, and as space opened around him he started to look composed, like Skuse, but Wordsworth seems to offer a more positive forward pass than our injured deep sitting midfielder.

Williams was everywhere, deep, high up the pitch, central, wide. Possibly one of the best performances at PR for some time. Capped with a brilliant second half goal. Cresswell stood over it on the left attacking the North Stand goal. By now Nouble and SEB were on, and the Derby back line were completely focussed on those 2 plus Murphy, Berra and Smith. This allowed Cresswell to pass short to Williams who advanced in acres of space and place a beautiful long range effort into the top right hand corner. Goal of the season. Its a shame Pulis was there tonight, surely he will call back this talent. Which would be a major blow.

Pulis may want Williams back to protect him from the kind of heavy duty treatment he received especially in the first half. Mick indeed approach the ref on the pitch at half time to argue for more protection. In some ways Williams low centre of gravity trickery was causing many a foul in error. But he'll certainly awake bruised in the morning.

Mick and TC got so much right tonight. And certainly they took off the right 3 players in the second half. Chambers was injured and looked groggy. But I thought this was another game were his lack of right back characteristics was exposed. At one point he fluffed a number of forward balls, and also failed to advance into space before him. Richardson seemed to do well when introduced, one particular forward run and cross was compelling.

The other 2 withdrawals, Hunt and Anderson, to be replaced by SEB and Nouble were desperately needed. Hunt and Anderson were just so outclassed by their team mate Williams it was dramatic. Hunt was marginally better, but he just lost the ball in good positions too many times. Anderson was just plain frustrating, he made wrong choices, he lost the ball, he was lacklustre, and I can tell you he also did not track back - exposing the myth of his defensive capabilities. We'd be in the play-offs had we procured better wingers this season.

Now please pass me a plate with a selection of my own words on it, because I must eat my own words. I had stated that Nouble will not make it as an effective player, I have also stated we won't make the play-offs. Certainly the Nouble position was hugely embarrassing tonight - he actually controlled the ball and BEAT his man on 3 or 4 occasions. Yes he switched off massively once which could have been costly. But he put in a game changing performance. SEB also looked much sharper and match fit.

What we had was an attacking intent for much of the second half - 6 deep players; and 4 attacking. Williams in the hole causing havoc, SEB and Murphy ahead, and Nouble free to go wide. Adventurous and exciting play at Portman Road - now thats more like it Mick - hats off to you.

And whisper it - keep that shape, perhaps even keep the same team that ended the game at the expense of Skuse for the improved Wordsworth - and maybe just maybe we'll be that 6th finisher that tends to prosper in the play-off madness.

Cracking night. And we're all returning for Saturday and the now very interesting Forest clash. (Reading losing at home to Barnsley - me like a lot)
Colchester United v Salford City Your Report added at 20:52:13
I could write a long report, but there is little point.

Yes the conditions were windy. But it was appalling theatre yet again.

Don't whine about falling attendances when that is the garbage on show.

Berra, murphy and loach can potentially take some credit. Hyam was bright before going off. But a team with green, skuse, hyam/tabb is too defensive - mick sighted fear of Blackpool as the reason post match, Jesus wept.

What is sickening is that for 5 mins at the end of the game we showed the endeavour and quality needed. But why was it not seen for 88mins. Terrible.

When are we going to get energy back? When when when?

And of course why play a not fully fit SEB, when we have a fit Taylor who has proved himself in 3 or 4 games. Nouble over Taylor on the bench - you're having a laugh.

Hunt is being exposed as is tabb. Taylor better than the former.

Still great we're solid - but that is shocking football.
Colchester United v Salford City Your Report added at 18:30:27
Well 13,000 plus brave souls made it along to the increasingly undervalued FA cup tie. Hats off to the impressive PNE following, who will make the long trip North buoyed with their performance and the prospect of a home replay.

It's almost pointless putting up a match report on TWTD these days, any criticism is shot down - "we're 6th", "look how far we've come", "get some perspective", "second string team put out", and often slightly more abusive feedback. But you gotta post what you think. I am particularly concerned by those who claim that our long ball is 'effective' and that we aren't being technically outplayed on a regular basis - Leeds, Leicester, Charlton (2nd half), Huddersfield, to name a few. And now Preston. What I mean is that we may outfight teams but ultimately success comes from passing on the floor and movement, fact.

Mick and TC have done a magnificent job, but we need to start to see a plan in terms of shape, system, formation and momentum. You can focus on the changes today, but changes need to fit into a ethos and system. I'm not sure what our plan is anymore, and it gets worse and worse to watch.

But the big negative today was our predilection to go long in the first half, and the performance of Wordsworth and tabb. Edwards was also terrible first half. But upped his game in the improved second half. Wordsworth - Jesus wept. The vitriol around me in the North was very strong, and indeed to Tabb, and the long ball blind devotion to Ipswich on TWTD is not present in the stands or the fans I speak to, people are unhappy with our style. In the first half we punted it long 6 times in the first 20 mins with the player not looking. At this point PNE moved the ball around, players moved off the ball. And yes it was a footballing lesson.

But it wasn't all negative today. In the second half once we had our quality players on McG, Taylor, tunners and cresswell, and linking. I thought we would steal it. Another positive was Mings, yes a few errors, but his runs and passing were excellent - he was on the right as well - perhaps he could fix that problem issue.

But the biggest positive was Taylor. Once on he was just quality. They couldn't get the ball off him. Everything he did ended in a positive pass. And he was so effective in the box. A chip cross at the end should have been scored by hapless Frank - albeit Nouble crossed really well to McG, who should have scored.

My concern with Taylor, is why isn't he starting. Yes he is unfit, but he was awesome until a knock in the first half against charlton. Why are talking about SEB and his rehabilitation? We have a multi million pound player of quality, who has consistently performed when started, and yet it's all about SEB.

SEB had moments, but he was being punted to, and the service fro nouble was poor. He then pulled something, maybe a hamstring, and I assume that gamble is over for a month or two.

I love this club and team; and mick is now talking the playoffs in his programme notes. But we need to now settle on a system and to use our best players. Taylor needs to start. And we need to cut out the long ball.
Oldham Athletic v Carlisle United Your Report added at 22:04:24

Horrible conditions at Portman Road today, and despite some short lived positive passing play, that was extremely threatening to a Charlton side in disarray, a disappointing Town performance.

Groundsman forked the turf furiously and the wings and corners looked sodden. Indeed a section of the Pioneer Stand (sic) lower was being deluged from the roof's guttering, and the crowd were fortunate in being moved to the upper section - drier and surely a better view.

Mick made changes, which is not surprising given the run of games. But switching from 4-3-3 and yet keeping Tunnicliffe and Skuse who had been adapting to that system seemed strange. Hyam has had a rest, is effective in breaking up play and linking play. It was good to see Taylor, but I would have liked to have seen him introduced over Nouble and Edwards introduced at right back. Anderson's inclusion was the discussion in the bar pre-match, concern linked to a hope this would be the game he finally made his mark.

Having said that Town were good value up to their 24th minute lead. There was passing, and breaks. Taylor and Skuse were purring; and for moments we strung some quite sophisticated play together. Indeed it was an own goal we 'earned' with a intricate move full of momentum. Murphy was doing well alongside Taylor, with his diminutive partner freeing him twice with high quality passes. For this first period Charlton were awful, giving away ball cheaply, panic clearances. We should have nailed the game; but yet again we failed to sustain pressure. And indeed Charlton still created 3 good chances, by cutting through our midfield. They had a strong penalty shout, which I'll need to see again, seemed nailed on, with a lunge from Chambo. Despite the scares, the Sir Bobby upper were buoyed by the passing and movement. Anderson was doing much better, but the issue was for all the bluster and running, far more than say Taylor, there was little quality end product. He messed up a corner terribly.

Then Town again seemed to sit back and this then linked to Taylor being spent (after 30mins?! is he that unfit) or injured, the home side's performance started to deteriorate.

Gerken looked much more confident again, but his kicking was poor. And again we started to see the ball coming back. THROW IT MORE! lets play out the back.

Tunnicliffe was trying very hard, but the revised system didn't seem to suit him, and Tabb was having a poor game, as well as Cresswell, both making some errors. Again the conditions could have been a big factor.

The second half was pretty awful. I paid £30+ and the football became just dreadful to watch. We just sat back and went all industrial. There's no width, no passing, its just send it long over and over again. It's pleasing to see how hard the team is working to keep the lead, but that's not the right tactic for a top 6 side at home to a poor side. We got the penalty and that should have won us the game - which for me would have been a rather hollow victory, as it was just so bad to watch at that point.

Charlton had a slight boost from the penalty save, but the boost was more how deep we were sitting, and our defensive play started to go desperate. No one holding or getting on the ball, just hoof and bring it back on yourself. Skuse was trying, and there was a telling moment when he had Chambo free on the wing, but he actually turned away from him and passed to Cresswell. Chambo can't beat his full back, nor can he make a cutting pass.

Nouble was introduced to try and get some pressing up the field, but he was back to his old ineffective ways. One classic moment came when he wasn't concentrating at a Town throw - indeed wasn't even looking. And we lost ball.

The sitting back was bound to fail. It had worked away at Charlton, in a desperate sort of way. But eventually with the luck of a deflection Charlton equalised.

So Mick must be congratulated on getting us into the top six having picked up a side in major trouble last term. But now we need to start to see 'the plan' emerging. What is our system now? is it just this 'hard graft' 'doing the dirty things' mantra we hear so much about. Or are we going to try and play a system and personnel that encourages passing and movement? players leaving their 'base' position. Because thats when we seem to score and threaten teams. Like so many fans in the area I was sitting in, the long ball is not just dangerous, its just awful to watch.

Huddersfield Town v Coventry City Your Report added at 18:28:15
9 points in 3 games, 9th place with +3 goal difference, and 2 points off the play-off places. Mick has the team getting results and long may it continue.

But as Mick Mills so correctly stated on BBC Suffolk we're doing it whist not playing particularly well. I have been at Charlton, and at home for Blackburn and Huddersfield, and for long periods Town are playing relatively desperate long ball football. And the team are carrying multiple low performers. But Mick has instilled a fight, and our defence goes from strength to strength. Creswell, Smith, Gerken and Berra were by some margin our best players today.

Huddersfield can feel hard done by to leave without a point; for the latter part of the first half and for a 15 minute spell in the second half the level and quality of their football was excellent. They pass well, have pace, distribute the ball hard and for long distance, often. Their goal involved just great passing and movement, and a player running into the box to pull defenders away from marking. They also hit the bar after another slick move. And they were threatening to overwhelm when they made one error in midfield, and it got through to McGoldrick with his quality allowing him to blast in again from range. He is great for Town, but I would say this was still a lower quality performance than some of those seen at home.

So back to the start of the game when Ipswich had control of the match and were threatening, their number 3 left back was being run ragged by Murphy, and some of the play from Hyam, Cresswell, Skuse and McGoldrick was of good quality. Then we started to go for this lofted ball down the left channel, repeatedly, and this signalled the pendulum to swing into Huddersfield's favour.

I very much liked the look of our starting formation, but it was clear that Huddersfield were not playing in their orthodox way, and yet Mick's switch worked, at least at the beginning of the 2 halves. I have to say Tunnercliffe disappointed today, I like the idea of putting Skuse and Hyam beside him in a 3. But he made a lot of errors and misplaced passes today and seemed to be positionally wrong. Skuse was OK, but again we've seen better, and he carried a knock for some time.

As to Frank, oh dear Frank, so much running and effort, but he really isn't good enough, and its a worry this guy can get a starting place. I do him a disservice as for a 10 minute spell in the second half his runs actually did end in good lay-offs. But in the main his crossing, passing and control is of a lower standard than needed in the championship. Its a shame because physically, and commitment wise, he can't be faulted. But Ipswich Town Football Club should have better starting attackers than this. PERIOD.

I thought Hyam was good, not excellent because some of his forward passing let him down. But when he is in the mix, and has options he can really get us out of trouble and have a control of the game. He needs to start for us.

Cresswell and Smith were just so good today; they had a lot of work to-do. Especially when Scannel came on for Huddersfield in the second half, but they never stopped and today Smith tried to stop using the long ball and get it to Cresswell and Tunnicliffe on the floor, which was so refreshing.

The long ball is so tiring. When we get it down we look like we can threaten, all our good chances came from getting it down and moving the ball quickly. Huddersfield gave us a masterclass in it for much of the game. But again Town in that first 10 to 20mins, when they managed to break, had some excellent chances, especially through Murphy, who should have done better. But he came up with the goods at the end.

This was by far Gerken's best performance for some time - he has been shakey of late - and I hope this gives him the confidence he needs to press on and have a good season.

Our young Villa starlet looked accomplished; with limited input, but made some lovely headers and controls of high balls landing on him - he might need that with our current method of play.

So 9 points in 3 games, things are looking up, lets hope Marcus can fund a striker, right back (there's no point dwelling on Chambers today, because he just should't be playing in that position, terrible forward passing today) and winger to help us push on. We also need Taylor to give us more options going forward than Frank.

But the main take from today is we're winning, we're playing badly in the main, but just how high could we go if we turned our moments of effective passing into 70-80mins of consistent play, combined with the ever improving back 4? promotion?

AFC Bournemouth v Brentford Your Report added at 23:46:44
Well it was like some weird pantomime tonight. Thrills, laughs, heroes, villains and comical performances.

But as the curtain closed Town had three points, moving two points off the play-offs - all gained despite a mediocre performance.

You know what? we might just create 'The BIG Promotion Push' that screamed from the ITFC flyer that came through the letter box this week, because tonight amongst the dross, certain town performances, some moments of play, and above all the excellent work rate and defending of this team shone through as a platform to build a run on.

Huddersfield will pose a sterner test than Blackburn, as although Rovers owned the first half and like all teams passed better than Ipswich, they had no answer to the town work rate and defending. Indeed Rovers only threatened late on with corners and set pieces, which Mick snuffed out but by bringing on Mings and Murphy to supplement the giants of Noubs, Berra, Chambers and Smith (what a defensive line from the dead balls!)

Much credit must go to Mick tonight, and TC, the changes were bang on and they clearly put a rocket up the players at half time. And the resultant increased work rate and passing (hallelujah) of the 45th to 55th minutes won town the game.

Hyam was great, and yet perhaps he picked up a knock and was hampered for 70 mins. He still managed to get in the mix and pop up with those short passes and provided options. His goal was excellent, despite a stumble. It came after a passage of passing, yes passing. It would be well over 10mins after the goal before we would string any passes together again in the first half.

And indeed the first half was as bad as you would see Town play, amongst many poor displays this term. And the sub 15,000 crowd needs to be associated with the appalling quality of football being offered. Not everyone is as rabid a blue as some of us.

Despite the turgid football on display Micks other 2 introductions stood out. Hunt was full of running, and Edwards had a good shift, which turned into a great performance in the second half. Drop Anderson for Saturday, yes Edwards has been intermittent in quality, but tonight he showed how to defend and to attack. He looked twice the player of Anderson at Charlton - and he was providing the defensive duties that are being sighted as the reason Ando is not getting forward. Most interestingly Edwards seemed to be more mobile, able to move into space so the limited passing of chambo was not exposed; and at last the right side clicked (mainly in the second half).

The first half continued to blow the mind and drive one to the bar. Gerken was frankly out of control, poor communication and judgement. Smith must have loathed the dithering. And the goal was inevitable, coming as a mix up.

Berra and Smith continued to excel in the main and kept Rhodes at bay. Then the goal, I don't really blame him for the celebration - that was ill judged - but Keane and by association the club screwed him.

So to Frank, our 'Noubs'. In our section of the North Stand we swung in emotions over his performance, there were things he did that were so bad he was like widow twanky. His innocent mad cap running in closing down players has to be applauded, and he scored. But the way he managed to tackle himself in the box when in a good position was unbelievable. When the ball struck him on the head to keep it in play when he was completely unawares, was surreal, and his 'hold up play' when bending double was bizarre. Keep going Frank - cult hero?

So to the second half. We started to pass at last and the Edwards and Hunt started to have joy. Hunt was excellent in a spell just after half time. And he was the catalyst for our second goal. Running at players. I like his wrestling tendencies as well. He looks a much better quality player than Tabb.

Cresswell was OK, but more defensive. McGoldrick was not as sharp as of late, ball wasn't sticking to his feet as normal.

Skuse was poor on Saturday and again today, didn't have that pedigree, effortless look. I would keep Hyam in, and even try Tunners alongside him.

So we went on to win - something that seemed unlikely at half time. Well done to Mick. Maybe this will build confidence and thus allow players to express themselves through passing, which is when we are effective. Mick sounded as pleased as punch on radio Suffolk/mutant.

One final point, I thought Mings looked very assured and classy on the ball when he came on.
Brentford v Huddersfield Town Your Report added at 11:07:51
1. It was a poor performance in front of a bigger crowd and form team - how long before Ipswich can provide an impressive home display to win back fans on these occasions?

2. Leicester were technically superior, had better players and passed well - but the gap between the teams was not vast. Had Ipswich been set-up differently this was winnable. It again shows the tightness of this league.

3. We got overrun in the centre of the park - Hyam would have actually faired better in this game, perhaps a 4-3-3 with Luke alongside Skuse and Tunnicliffe, with Taylor in a front 3 with McGoldrick and Murphy.

4. Losing the battle in the centre meant we needed the outlets of Tabb and Anderson out wide. Both were poor. Anderson especially so, how long before this guy is dropped? Taylor should have started.

5. This was the most telling example of chambers not working at right back; he was unable to provide an attacking outlet, and Murphy desperately needed this in the final 20 mins. Chambo also at fault for 2nd goal. We have to get a right back in or give Hewitt a chance. A right back needs to be more agile on the ball.

6. When we went the goal up we reverted into a defensive mode, rather than keeping up the pressure, making Leicester think they might lose. And then the hoofing started again.

7. The long ball and lack of passing was very apparent. I think the Championship is changing, you need shape, pace and a passing system - or you are just gifting the opposition possession. Smith and Chambers were chief culprits, but without dynamic movement who do they pass to? When we did pass the ball in the last half an hour we got results. I think Skuse is not providing flank shifting passing and this is a problem.

8. McGoldrick is looking a class apart at the moment, it must be frustrating for him with the shape around him. He is total class. Perhaps yesterday only mcgoldrick, Berra and Taylor looked like high quality players on the ball.

9. Taylor showed in glimpses the difference he can make, he could be a great foil for McGoldrick. But alas I think he picked up a shoulder injury early on and this hampered his appearance. Nouble reverted to type yet again, with poor touch and control.

10. Mings has some raw talent and his 2 forward runs were sublime; but he was very tested by Leicester and the return of cresswell is needed.
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