Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
22/02 Ipswich 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
IPSWICH made two changes at half time, replacing McGreal and Magilton with Naylor and Wright. This meant Matt Holland went to centre back to mark Boulding and they played with, effectively, three strikers.
Ipswich Town 2 Grimsby Town 2
22 Feb 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
The second half? Iâ€™ll name that tune in six. They were coming through in waves. Holland marked Boulding out of the game, interpreting Bouldingâ€™s feints and spins with ease, he matched Boulding for pace, but was always three yards ahead in his head. The result was that Town didnâ€™t have the outlet they had in the first half. And more and more clearances/passes were in the air. We had to put it together sooner or later, didnâ€™t we? Perhaps the simplest thing would be to describe the Town attacks. Well, let me see. Boulding was released down the left touchline, spinning past his marker (who wasnâ€™t Holland this time), cutting inside and letting fly from 20 yards. The shot hit a defenderâ€™s bottom and Boulding fell over when the ball went back to him. Mucho frustrationo as Campbell and Oster had burst forward in support. Erm, Campbell was played through by Boulidng, again after a turn and sprint down the left, but Campbell overhit his intended knock through the defence. Goal kick. Yet another Town break saw them pouring forward in huge numbers, well, more than two. The ball momentarily fell for Coldicott, perhaps a dozen yards out. Perfect for a flying left foot volley into the top corner, sufficient to send the Town 200 into paroxysm of delight, into the stratosphere of sensory pleasures. One supporter was so overcome with excitement he ran off to the toilet at the very moment Coldicott controlled the ball, turned round and passed back to Hughes on the touchline. Yes, a moment of almost danger.
Thatâ€™s it for Town, just isolated breaks which often foundered on Matt Holland, or a misplaced pass. After 64 minutes, Groves miss hit a through pass to Boulding when Town were briefly four against two in the Ipswich half. He miss hit it because of the lumpy-bumpy pitch. The game was almost entirely down to our right, so if you see a few dozen people in Grimsby with their heads permanently set to their right, and slightly down, then you know they were at Ipswich on 22 February 2003, between the hours of 3pm and 4:52, your honour. Or at least thatâ€™s my alibi. Eyes switched between the players and the clock in the stand behind Coyne, counting down to zero in bright blue, false hope rising by the minute. Would it be our day?
Two flukey goals and the opposition indolent. Could be! Here comes some more circumstantial evidence. Ipswich pressed on the Town left, prodding and probing away at the running sore they saw in Gallimore. But Galli had a much more effective second half, standing his ground rather than running behind Mother Santosâ€™ skirt. Suddenly the ball was fizzed diagonally across the penalty area to the far post, where Naylor rose alone on the edge of the 6 yards box. He carefully steered a precise header back across Coyne, bouncing once, twice, three inches past the post. Head in hands, 24,000 groans ringing in his ears, and just 200 cheers to salute his waywardness. And to think he turned us down for a loan. Pah! A few minutes later D Bent caused a bit of a flutter in the centre of Townâ€™s defence, turning past Ford, who hacked and missed, and running into Groves and Santos. The ball deflected off the Wall of the Sound directly into Naylorâ€™s path, 18 yards out, to the right of the penalty area. His shot was diverted a couple of feet wide of the near post by something black and white. Ford was then booked. The corner was curled into the area and no chance followed. Ipswich had numerous corners, most of which hit Santos firmly in the centre of his huge gleaming (uncannily like the London Planetarium) cranium.
Half way through the half Ipswich had a free kick, 25 yards out, to the right of centre, following an extremely basic hack by Hughes. The ball was rolled sideways to Holland, who sliced a firm shot Poutonianly wide, to the huge satisfaction of those who know a Poutonian shot when they see it. Thereâ€™s one in every game, even when Pouton isnâ€™t playing. It must be an homage to the master. Iâ€™m sorry, that just about it for incidents. Town didnâ€™t have a shot on goal in the second half and Ipswich, hard though they tried, created nothing else at all in open play. Two solid banks of black and white faced them, impenetrable fortresses that they couldnâ€™t scale, topple, undermine of storm. As the game wore on, their passing degenerated, they abandoned any pretence at passing and the ball was lumped up, usually diagonally. But their forwards didnâ€™t even get scraps. Fleeting moments of worry were usually assuaged by Santos, bustling, hustling, cuddling the ball away. The central three in midfield were immense, each covering for the other, sweeping away any loose chippings before a blueman could get near. With 10 minutes left, Groves was replaced by Bolder, which surprised a few. There was no discernable change in the game, up to the Town area, and out again, in, out, in out, over to the left, back to the right, in, out. Never shaken, only occasionally stirred, the defence held impressively firm. Ford came out with grit, stronger, more determined, concentrating, he improved greatly as the game wore on.
But still that nagging feeling, gnawing away at the back of our collective minds. Itâ€™s Town, disaster always strikes at the cruellest moment. The clocked ticked on, on, on just 2 minutes left, the final assault repelled by Santos, who knocked the ball to the left. But no. As Gallimore was about to clear down the touchline the ball hit a huge chunk of turf, forcing him to wildly miss-kick. The ball sluiced out backwards for a throw-in. Ipswich quickly switched the ball to Reuser on their left (whoâ€™d come on with about 20 minutes left). Macca chased and harried, forcing Reuser wide towards the corner flag, but the Dutchman clipped the ball against McDermottâ€™s shins at the last moment, gaining a corner. All Ipswich players bar one raced into the penalty area and heads dropped into hands all around as the corner was swung into the middle of the area. One big bloke flicked a header on from the middle, about 10 yards out. The ball looped and dropped onto the face of the crossbar, down, up and straight to another Ipswich player stood at the far post. He nodded the ball goalwards from a few yards out. The ball hit the post and arced slowly back out. McDermott, on the edge of the 6 yards box, turned and looked as though he was about to whack it clear, but in rushed D Bent, who bundled the ball down and drove a low shot through the packed penalty area and into the net. We looked at the clock, 1 minute left. An audible hiss emanated from the Town support, we really shouldnâ€™t have spent the previous five minutes celebrating our victory.
The 4th official held up the board - 3 minutes left. After two of them Ipswich won a lucky corner, after a Macca tackle had sent the ball out towards the bye-line, but spun 90 degrees and out for a corner. The corner was curled at pace into the near post and Coyne punched the ball away as an Ipswich player barged into him. Coyne stayed down clutching his head, the game carried on and Ipswich lobbed the ball wide of the empty net. After a bit of treatment, play continued. And continued. And continued. Town won a corner way past the three minutes and just kept it in the corner, wasting time. Santos and Ford had raced up for the last gasp effort, then had to turn on their heels and sprint back again. Eventually, 4 minutes and 41 seconds after the board had been held up, the game ended. A rousing reception for the players, for despite the dejection of the last minute equaliser the support appreciated the vast improvement from Gillingham. Town were the equal of a poor Ipswich team, or should that be poor Ipswich performance. But was that because they were poor or Town made them play poorly with innovative and fluid tactics? As always, perhaps a bit of both.
Individually no-one was dreadful, a couple had ropey first halfs, but improved drastically after half time. Oster seemed to be a catalyst merely by his presence. He didnâ€™t do that much today, the occasional swish and sway, but just being there was enough. Campbell was prominent and thrived in the five man midfield, where the middle three were an excellent defensive wedge. None had any pace, and only Hughes looked like he could pass with any accuracy, but they did what they were supposed to do. Hughes, jury out, looked fine for what he was asked to do, which was simply to stand in the right places and stop them. Donâ€™t get excited about him, he doesnâ€™t seem to be a flair player. A solid character in every sense of the word.
So a point gained or two lost? We can only get a true perspective in May. Town played well and Oster is back, you can all sleep a bit better now.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
What a difficult one. Campbell buzzed and worked himself to a standstill, Groves was mightily effective for 66 minutes, then he seemed to wilt. It probably has to be GEORGES SANTOS again, for a steady stream of timely tackles and for the fact he was never beaten.
R Olivier. At 2 feet 8 inches, the smallest referee in the league he kept the game flowing, but was always in control. His only arguable decisions were actually ones made by the linesmen, one of whom refused to give any offsides. Oh, and that mysterious disinclination to end the game. Overall he was most acceptable, refusing to bow to home demands and he deserves a high marking. Thatâ€™d be 7.682979 then. And it is.
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