|runningout added 17:07 - Jan 21|
brazil1982 added 18:52 - Jan 21
Mullet added 18:57 - Jan 21
Town wanted a response, without spin or hot air following the cup exit at non-league Lincoln in the week. It's hard to know if Mick changed a lot, or enough upon reading the teamsheet tweet. Strong rumours that Bart Bialkowski was somewhere in the Potteries about to sign for Stoke gathered credibility as they spread amongst the away end before kick off. Local journos insisting he was instead kneeling before his own porcelain throne did little to allay fears.
A neon Gerken back in the no.1 spot. New boy Spence took his bow at RWB, Knudsen the other side. Chambers was the central pin in a flat three, completed by Berra and Digby. Beyond that whose to say? Skuse, Bru and Dozzell were somewhere in the centre circle. Lawrence and Sears were attackers, rather than strikers. Maybe that's just the bootleg Barcelona look, playing hideous tricks on the brain?
Switching wings, and cycling across the defence, both made for a thin and malleable frontline. Was it 352? 532? When Skuse midway through the first half played one of two passes unsighted to where he presumed Knudsen would be, rather than where he was much further up the flank. You sensed there was a problem.
Huddersfield didn't match us. In any if many ways at all. Wells was clearly the striker, but their intent to press the man, space and flesh meant our lack of shape induced theirs to surround us. When Tom Lawrence won a freekick on the edge of their box, it looked like a brighter start for the unlikely away side. A short routine with Skuse and it went over the wall for an easy, teasing take.
The Terriers then had, but failed to take the better chances. In fact, really in 20 or so minutes of football they had most of them. Van la Parra promises so much, but delivers little but cross after cross. That was once his first chance to skate into the box on the strength of flashy feet saw a tame skidded effort taken by Gerken.
The game moved and swirled between the two goalmouths. Unfortunately, a lead looked on the tip of the home side's tongue, whilst Town gulped. An embarrassingly poor header from an offside Kachunga went way over. It was a warning as dangerous as the one which saw Gerken tip over superbly from close range.
Of the two keepers, ours was busier. Huddersfield's Ward, had lots of possession but even when a runner closing, or his defensive options were marked, his poor kicking and inability to catch proved no obstacle. Town's better moments in the final third saw Lawrence simply stand still as the glovesman, flapped into him when the catch was seemingly a formality.
Town didn't so much play it out of the back, but around it. This not only invited intrigue, but pressure. The back three when stretched won lots in the air, and rarely did Digby look miles away from Chambers. In fact it was clear the lack of experience in this system caused them to crash into each other and allow Town to attack us.
If the gaps were there, so was the guts in a period where new boy Spence played a lively but lonely Sears in with a wonderful crossfield ball. It was a rare moment of intelligence and direct passing combining. A decent drive forward but all in vain and soon over.
The former trialist, was caught twice in a first half against the tide of Yorkshire pressure. But overall he and the newer face inside of him did well to keep the ball and man out of Gerken's way when needed. Both sides seemed locked in a footballing embrace, brow to brow and grappling but the short chopping shots led to Huddersfield looking the more likely to land a bodyblow of substance.
Old wounds and new looked at risk from this pummelling, and the Terriers smelled blood. Hogg in midfield moved little, but like a rudder steered either flank as, Ipswich were slower to close and migrate towards the ball or tide of attacking play. When Gerken let one of several crosses go, it simply trickled to a waiting wideman and caused the defence all sorts of problems. Cut back and snuffed out, one of Bru's better moments was a series of short passes with Lawrence. Cut out on halfway as Dozzell looked on.
The youngster was essentially a passenger, as Ipswich had enough deficiencies struggling to kept under wraps without the midfielder unsure if he was a deep 10, between two runners or a central partner to Skuse. It was clear he wasn't the only one unsure of who and what went were, you can understand it from a teenager but not the men around him.
When he trotted after his man Brown, rather than go up against him he travelled full circle behind his back as the midfielder managed ten or more yards. The back three made a mobile wall, but it was one more from Jericho as his dipping shot nestled in the goal to oddly little fanfare from the home fans. I'm hoping Gerken didn't see it, at least if he is to retain his place.
We responded with an immediate attack down the left. A more probing Knudsen, still couldn't find the throw or Hail Mary pass when there was so little ahead of him, and every team mate ahead of him was so little. One thing, that became apparent as our grip on just holding on failed. There was no hint of hoofball, as there was no point hoofing it at all. Whatever myths, truisms and legends you might associate with McCarthy's side, this one was so alien it couldn't be described as much of a side at all. His or otherwise.
The second half rightly saw Andre removed. You could pick any reason. Whether it was his hand in the goal that had cost us so dearly, or simply another demonstration of his unreadiness in the face of what you might read. The swap for Douglas produced a one man tantrum somewhere in the back of the stand and resignation in the back of many minds.
Suffice to say when his first touch was soon taken off him, so was dignity. His or the dozen or so offering an opinion is a matter of perspective. Ipswich looked likely to carry on giving their foe looks but little else.
The game still appeared to be contested until disaster struck and histrionics followed. A low drive on the angle from distance saw Gerken palm it away fiercely. As can happen when a shot is fired off. Nobody moved. But with the ball begging to be executed, every last one of us collapsed a little inside as Schindler added another to his list against the Blues. Thundering skyward into the central part of the net. 'Hell Ipswich.
Bru who once again faded from view now there was a vacancy for a midfielder to become anonymous, didn't slip away before showing he could pick a pass when the mood suited him. Huddersfield were not the dominant force you'd assume, and undone by well timed punches forward but not affected enough to be unseated by them.
Spence's last action saw him fly down the line. It's hard to see what's changed since his earlier stint with us, as he has the feet and force but not the faith to beat his man. Mick's comments about his fitness might well be correct, but as his shot fizzed out of play past the post and waiting Douglas et al. It seemed likely his condition after an hour of first team football was not as healthy as the team's as a whole.
Switching to 433, Chambers moved out as there was Moore to come for Ipswich. The new signings exchanged courtesies as the striker headed out to the middle. He soon headed up a much better looking attack, even if the charges forward were forlorn.
His best chance came after Bru finally had had enough. Stretching out on the turf and gingerly facing the dugout after colliding with his man, he made way for Pitman as ten minutes of 433, became a staggered 442. Sears and Lawrence had spent long enough being crowded away from centre stage. Both taking supporting roles as Town's intent directly improved their appearance far too late in the match.
Moore had his first shot on target after an excellent move started with Douglas. A nicely timed ball between runners into Pitman's feet, off to Lawrence, Skuse to Searsy on the switch and back across to Moore who ended up shanking rather than stirring up the away fans with an effort low and not hard enough.
The home side still went forward but instead of pinning and sticking, they undulated play into countering and trying to run away with it. This yielded little but bookings. Lawrence threw frustrated words and actions, his eyes skyward and the ball miles away from where the ref wanted it to earn his. Another warning to the one thing we would really miss, even in a period so full of holes bigger than just absentees. Berra was left to chop down Wells after Digby and Douglas turned a short freekick in no man's land into a free run on goal. The veteran midfielder showed his experience to earn his, when taking out his man off the ball before being called back when the attack broke down too to receive his caution.
In the mean time Town showed clever touches but none of the answers to reduce the deficit, let alone avoid defeat. Pitman was put off just enough at the back post. Glancing his header wide and then at the floor away from where his marker lay. Of several late corners and chances to expose the obvious inability of the keeper Town were too long, too short, too slow too often. Big men, big effort and little resulting in a likely breakthrough.
At 0-0 the game was one Town were neither winning nor losing, simply holding on to. But telling difficulties and indifference to the duties summarised the collapse. Claret and Blue so unclear and unfamiliar in role and remit often blurred into a brown long before the man of the same name scored.
Moore and Pitman looked one of infinite possibilities and combinations this season, that might just work. But it was too little, too brief, too academic to have any real world impact. The game played out to the strained protests of a few, then a few more. But despite the fascia of two debutants and grounded football, the 700 strong mob were no more bound together than those sat in the solidarity of deathly silence, or the figures long gone when the whistle came. All wondering what good the axe might do, if it were to fall at all. Those with the mentality of us already being in the bottom three, might drag us there through will alone. Persuasion and February's fixture list is looking a powerful sedative as the life slips away a little more following every defeat.
Talking to home fans before and after the game, seeing their side up close, it's hard not to cast your mind back to two years ago. This is a machine more than any man working it. An unfancied and unfashionable side beating the odds and many in front of them. Despite such clear strengths, and glaring flaws, they know their game and cover for them exactingly and easily. Not only does it work, it inspires. The sight of this in that Blue and White, makes for a strange and frosty mirror.
Facefacts added 13:03 - Jan 23
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