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Coming Up For Air: Ipswich Report
By: Tony Butcher
A PLEASANT, bright and clear day by the Orwell with around 200 Town fans shoved into the usual top corner of the old stand, hovering like growling gremlins above the corner flag (as seen to the right on TV).
Ipswich Town 2 Grimsby Town 2
22 Feb 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
The Ipswich players warmed up doing a strange variation on the running up and down between cones routine that is de rigueur for aspirant Premiership clubs. They ran together, jigging and jagging like one of those awful modern dance routines that BBC1 have decided are the hip way young persons will be encouraged to view their educational telecasts. Town? They ambled about, played a giant game of piggy in the middle. McDermott was the only player bothered about the rules, putting his hand in the air "Sir, Sir, Darrenâ€™s taken three touches". Our first glimpse of the unknown soldier, Richard Hughes, revealed him to be chunkier than your normal Town player, with more distressing hair than your average bear. Heâ€™s been growing it in anticipation of Portsmouthâ€™s ascent. A bit too long and "continental" at the back for my liking. His shorts were a little too small as well, or maybe he has a big bottom. Ah, thereâ€™s little Johnnie Oster, back home again with his family, under the care of the Uncles Paul and Graham. Perhaps Town shouldnâ€™t try and sign him, but apply to Court to be his legal guardians.
Town lined up in the less than usual 4-5-1 formation, as shown. Oster and Campbell played down the wings as the designated supporters of Boulding, with the other three holding the central areas. Hughes played on the centre left, with Coldicott the centre right, and Groves the hub around which everything whirled. As the game was about to start Ward, Thompson and Cooke appeared in the Town support, to a big round of applause. Cooke was serenaded to his seat with eulogies and, if garlands rather than a narrow selection of confectionery had been available from the refreshment stall, they would have been bought and strewn across his path. He looked a bit embarrassed and the upshot of this was that I am unable to give a pie report, as he was swamped by bonhomie and teenagers. Both Cooke and Thompson wore parkas which were at least one size too big, whilst Ward wore his duffel coat again.
he pitch was very cut up and there were three newly laid strips of turf in one of the goalmouths, incongruously placed amongst the mud. It looked more a like golf driving range than a football pitch. The younger element of the Town support wafted an inflatable lamb draped in black and white towards the elderly and content gentlemen below us hailing the Ipswich chairman, or did I mishear them?
Town kicked off away from the bit where the Town support was congregated. It was carefully knocked back to Gallimore, who produced his world famous dummy, fooling one of the Bents (they had two, D and M) into thinking a punt up field was a-coming. Galli cut back inside passed to Santos, who passed to Ford, who caressed a long pass forward. Suddenly Campbell was free on the left, 25 yards out with just one defender in his way. Clobbered. A free kick resulted, which was flighted beautifully by Oster, straight into the goalkeeperâ€™s hands. Of course it was a rubbish free kick, but it was done with such style that ladies of a certain age cooed and fluttered their fans, Mr Darcy. Well now, their goalkeeper was soon espied as a potential weakness. A little lad called Pullen. This was his league debut and there was an air of apprehension in the Ipswich defence whenever the ball went near him, which was replicated in the stands.
All of which rather sums up the first few minutes. No great moments to reminisce about as you drift towards slippers, draylon curtains, and infrequent visits from your ungrateful grandchildren. Though nothing was produced, the mood music was much more upbeat than last week. More a little bossa nova than Kentish funeral march. Ipswich were unable to work out what Town were doing (hey, we feel like that mostly), confused by the single striker being quickly supported by wingers and, most of all, by the fact that Town were passing the ball and moving into space. Cha-cha-cha. Ipswich were relying upon the muscle of M Bent and the pace of D Bent. Quick and early the balls flew through towards Santosâ€™ head and Coyneâ€™s waiting arms. After about eight minutes, Town broke down the right, with McDermott steaming up in support to challenge for a bouncing clearance near the left corner flag. Shoulder to shoulder, McDermott bounced off the blue barbarian and a free kick was awarded. Much to the chagrin of locals, for it wasnâ€™t much of a Suffolk punch. Hughes and Oster stood over the ball, perhaps taking the opportunity to introduce themselves, and finally Hughes curled the ball into the area using his left foot. Now that will cause arguments on the team bus with Galli and Barnard - whose left foot is most beautiful? Which is exactly the sort of abstract mental meanderings which were going through the Ipswich defence as the ball lazily arced into the 6 yards box. And through to the far post, where Groves swung his right foot over the flight of the ball, allowing it to strike his standing foot, thus causing the opposition to gasp in wonderment at such outrageous and audacious skill. The ball trickled towards the near post, rolling past the ball boy who was accidentally wearing the goalkeeperâ€™s jersey, and a defender eventually wellied the ball away. The Town support rose, sat down, hovered three inches above their seats, then roared in laughter as the referee pointed upfield. GROVES had scored, though some believe to this day that it was Max Wall.
This galvanised Ipswich into attacking, which was not what my doctor ordered. They suddenly picked up the pace and realised that McDermott could defend. So they switched to attacking down their right. Oooh dear, itâ€™d only taken them ten minutes. Gallimore was totally skinned by Wilnis (is that the capital of Lithuania?) who proceeded to cross straight into Coyneâ€™s arms, and a minute later, out of play. The Ipswich pressure was relieved only by a Town breakaway, from which a corner resulted. And Town nearly scored from that as Groves, at the far post, leaning back, headed firmly across goal, forcing the goalkeeper to fall sideways and hold the ball. Just four minutes after one of the greatest goals Town have ever scored in Ipswich this century, the opposition scored. Ipswich probed and prodded down the Town centre and right. They got nowhere, of course. Santos, Groves and McDermott repelled them easily. So Ipswich rapidly switched their attentions to the Town left. When the ball was still on the right, movement was made on the left, with M Bent pummelling across the face of the area, from right to left. McGreal curled a pass over and around Gallimore, who turned and slowly stretched to intercept. He missed by a few inches, thus allowing M Bent, who had infiltrated a space behind and between Santos and Gallimore an uninterrupted view of the goal. M Bent just outside the penalty area crossed from the bye-line towards the near post, and D BENT, about 7 yards out, stooped in front of Fordâ€™s flailing boot and firmly headed down to Coyneâ€™s left. Cue tannoy playing a popular music track to artificially stimulate the locals.
The pattern of the game continued, with Town making some very interesting inroads into the Ipswich penalty area. Campbell and Oster were having a field day, roaming freely between the Ipswich defence and midfield. Twice opportunities were wasted when they got behind the defence and crossed behind everyone. The better one of the two was when Campbell bustled into the area on the right, feigned to cross, but cut back inside, looked up, saw Boulding and rolled the cross 10 yards behind the little scamp. This was a game between two bad defences, with, incredibly, theirs looking worse than ours. Tactically, Town were the top trumps. What is it about former Premiership teams that they flap like gnus when Town visit? Chances? Well, Ambrose tried a spectacular bicycle kick following a high loopy cross from their right. It was not accurate, or worrying in any way whatsoever. Gallimore got in a tizz when a cross was flighted into the middle of the penalty area from about 25 yards out. D Bent raced in and Galli decided to wrestle rather than head the ball. Bent ignored the minor irritant and reached the ball just before Coyne. He glanced a looping header over Coyne, who back peddled furiously. The ball drifted a few inches wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. A little later Ambrose slowly curled a free kick from 20 yards out near the right hand corner of the Town area towards the top left hand corner. Coyne ambled across goal and held the ball at head height, with no fuss.
This was going swimmingly for Town, Ipswich were beginning to pass the ball out of play, their fans began to grumble. What more could we ask for? Another goal? Come on, this is Town, we donâ€™t do that sort of thing. Hughes won a crunching full frontal tackle near the centre circle, right in the middle of the pitch. The ball flew forward to Boulding, who turned round and ran at the defenders. Thatâ€™s the Galli-like retreating defenders. He kept on going, veering to his left. Oster sprinted up the wing begging for the pass to be made as Boulding neared the penalty area. The Town fans stood up begging Boulding to pass to the unmarked Oster, but BOULDING, greedily, hit a weak shot. The ball diverted off McGrealâ€™s backside and skidded across the cabbage patch. Pullen took great care in adjusting his feet and raised his hands to shepherd the ball away. The Town fans growled in frustration at such a wasted opportunity. Oster started to moan and waive his arms about. In the meantime Pullen forgot to actually dive and try to touch the ball, and it rolled pathetically, slowly, under him and in. My, my did we laugh again? The answer is yes, we did. The tannoy didnâ€™t play any popular music to celebrate, though the theme music from "Some Mothers Do â€˜Ave â€˜Em" would have been apposite.
Just 66 minutes to hold out. Ipswich carried on as they had done before, using a rather basic and atypically Ipswichian style of play. Little attempt was made to pass through the centre, which was partly due to the rotten pitch and to the permanent roadblock set up by the visiting Mariners militia. There were a few very worrying moments when the ball was loose in and around the edge of the Town area, but there were barely any attempts on goal. I canâ€™t remember Coyne making a save in the remainder of the first half as the men in front of him hunted in packs, closing down any hint of danger though weight of numbers (Groves, Coldicott and Campbell), weight (Gallimore and Hughes) or sheer force of personality (Santos). The nearest they got to causing any anxiety was a steepling cross which disappeared from sight for several seconds, eventually plummeting to earth from a cruising altitude which troubled the local flying school. Coyne punched the ball out straight to an Ipswich player, but his shot was charged down. For the locals that was exciting, so poor had Ipswich been. And that didnâ€™t bother us one iota. The football was being played by the Town. Oster was a little too self indulgent when he received a short free kick inside the Ipswich penalty area. Unmarked, he waited for a defender, tried a couple of tricks and crossed behind all the Town players. A simple whack at goal would have been better. And Town, technically, had a goal disallowed. Another Town break, where they poured forward and outnumbered the defenders. Boulding, on the centre left edge of their penalty area tried to dink a pass behind the defence for Hughes. His first effort was blocked and his second released Hughes, who crossed to the totally and utterly unmarked Campbell 10 yards out, who tapped the ball in, but the flag had already been raised for offside well before.
Half time: Ipswich Town 1 Grimsby Town 2
Analysis? Itâ€™s all there in black and white. Four shots, three goals, one messy defence with two flapping dandelions. An uncomplicated and committed opposition had simply overrun the reluctant daytrippers. Resilience is a word you wonâ€™t find in the A-Z of Town (2003 edition). I can think of another word beginning with "R", can you? Itâ€™ll be through the round window.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"My dad supports Liverpool, but heâ€™s old".
The report continues in the second half.
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