|GavTWTD added 17:08 - Feb 13|
Maybe we've solved a few issues:
Bart must stay as #1 - was great today
Pringle looked good. Optimistic about him. Even a possible permanent signing if ffc don't want him.
Pitman must have more game time.
prebbs007 added 17:12 - Feb 13
runningout added 18:54 - Feb 13
unstableblue added 19:51 - Feb 13
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!
MrMorgan added 20:59 - Feb 13
Mullet added 21:40 - Feb 13
Bart was covered with all three first choice CB's, wing-backs of Knudsen and Foley and cut just inside was the loanee Pringle and AMN a sharp V to the usual formation as Bru sat between them a pale imitation of City's much missed ex Skuse. Sears and Murphy the classic take on the old big man little man act up top.
It was clear from the off that Mick's new shape and style was simply to contain. The lone lump of Kodjia had Freeman and Tomlin as wonky wingers, swirling behind him and for all intents and purposes it worked. In a game where there was too much pass and not enough move from slow swarms of blue shirts into cul-de-sacs. Town competed for everything and fought over every ball threaded and thumped. The opening ten minutes saw the Blues set out to frustrate and fling themselves forward. Sears the most obvious and onerous outlet of what soon became predictable.
When Pringle stabbed just beyond him from the byline by putting it just behind him, it was clear much of this was improvised, but not always an improvement. Town would be stoic, they would stifle, as Brizzle would put Murphy in a stranglehold. The big man had a big task of finding room, and failed to draw either a foul or get free from the hands of his markers.
After roughly fifteen minutes the first warning shot was fired. An improvised volley from a defended set-piece through a crowded Town box saw Bart produce a worldy save and tip over by getting under the ball. Up the other end AMN had only conspired to ping inswingers at the front post just to see us at best, glance towards goal in a fashion that may as well have been a thousand yard stare away.
When the ponytailed Freeman got another go it was Flint who cut a lead role as opening goalscorer, smashing a header home seemingly unchallenged. The 352 experiment was over. Foley moved from awkward wing-back to functional midfield nut in a flat 442. Every bit the Subbutteo McCarthy player made real. He looks nondescript, he plays nondescript, flung across the green to cut out balls and ping them around with lots of labour and little love from the fans.
Town had run a real risk of bleeding out, such was the predicament of again waiting to go behind before rushing at the challenge before them. So much time had their backs been again the wall there was a real risk of weeping. When Flint did it again and to blunt one might argue it was really Town who didn't do it again, there was a sense that the only thing running was the clock. For all the speed and guile on the pitch the blues passed themselves into nowhere and being nowhere near. Frustrations sizzled in the capacity away end amidst the frigid blue air.
Between the goals, Sears' shot into the sidenetting was more telling than anything. The ground opened up just enough for a speculative stab at the near post following a long bout of drawing out four Town players just to cross a ball to where they should have been.
When Tommy Smith was our best attacking outlet after the second you started to sense that Town's hopes were similar to the Kiwi's flying effort. Launching askew from his weaker foot as all stood around and wondered exactly what it all meant. Half time and doubled down, McCarthy's tactical alchemy was duller and greyer than anything the God's could produce above.
Shivering into the second came super-sub Pitman. What the man has to do to get a start one can only wonder now. As Town opted for another shape-shift and the classy frontman sat second fiddle but centre stage in a 4411 that had Sears now on the right and Pringle on the left. Bru and Foley orbited loosely in the sagging middle.
The new attack that had spent the first half hoping to bowl over Bristol with knockdowns, intricately worked Murphy into a position to power straight onto the hand of O'Donnell. The boy did wonders to keep out the header from the Irishman, who took the cross from Sears that former Cherry fed him.
Soon after Pitman would again show his sweet sense of knock-out timing. Racing both past and across defender then goalkeeper with the ball, having been sent through a hole on the left off the bullet pass of Murph. Such was the sense of disbelief the celebrations grew like a shock wave before they crashed surely through the away end, not wanting to believe at first that comeback might be on.
With just a goal in it, the busy débutante Pringle was removed and Reg reinstated. He rarely stopped and on times popped the odd tasty morsel into a game that left Town fans starved of joy far too often. You could see why Mick wanted him in the summer, you could see why he came here now. It's a big gap to fill, but one hopes on first glimpse the peroxide playmaker won't bomb.
In a part of the world long home to druids, guile was sacrificed for guts. Town seemingly bewitched by their own misfortune and pity had shed enough blood already just getting here. The injury list and lopsided nature of the side put out meant that with just 20 minutes left, Mick's reflex for sureity meant that all flair was snuffed out in favour of more graft.
Bristol responded with ex-budgie Wilbraham and Agard becoming their own little and large. Size and speed combined to peg back a beleaguered and leaking defence too easily and too often. When those two combined and Knudsen slid across goal and blocked the home side's Smith from three yards out, he was both on and using his knees, it wasn't the first time 1300 or so gulped and gasped in unison. Such were the depths plumbed.
More than once did Freeman and his cohorts flash shots and set-pieces across Bart’s goal, the crowded box of defenders all missing like the hosts. Too often and too close for comfort. It seemed there was a goal left in the game, but little point for Town. Touré saw out the five minutes of injury time as Mick threw yet another attempt to wrench something back for the travelling circus we had become. All the rarely-seen Larsen managed was to put himself about in the corner chasing Wilbraham and Freeman's attempts to kill the game and time.
It was a game where Town may have scored and forced maybe two (albeit impressive) saves despite the wealth of fire-power, one has to wonder why the penchant to be direct was noticeably absent. Even Mick was flinging arms and ungodly Yorkshire dialect from the technical area as Town spent the last moments tipping and tapping across the back, as they had up and down the flanks too often and for too long today.
From a Town point of view there simply wasn't enough dog in the fight today. Weakened, and weary the once impressive away form has seen an alarming sense of generosity from Ipswich on the road nearly two months past Christmas. Individuals such as Knudsen and Pringle may have had surprisingly good games, but the constantly changing units did not. Leaders were not being counted upon as again the Blue's were countered upon all too easily.
A few dozen will have slinked away, Ian Milne's words still ringing in their ears from a wonderful South-West supporters' club event. It's hard to believe as Mick grimaced between handshakes, soon after those were left to board the team bus will have had his ringing in theirs after yet another non-event.
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