Monday, August 10, 2009

Match Report: Ipswich Town vs Coventry City

Date: 9th August 2009
Result: Coventry 2-1 Ipswich
Scorer for Town: Walters

Football's back! A day late for Ipswich and Coventry fans, but now, the Football League has officially kicked off.

All the talk before the match was of the man in charge of Ipswich Town, Roy Keane. Chris Coleman seemed pleased about this (and then suitably smug after the match), meaning Coventry could give Ipswich a surprise.

The match was preceeded by a minute's applause for Ipswich (and football) legend, Sir Bobby Robson. The away fans in the Jewson End began the chant, "There's only one Bobby Robson", before the PA announcer even had the chance to say there would be a minute's applause. It set off applause from everyone in the Ricoh Arena, as Sky Blues and Tractor Boys united for a great man. One Ipswich fan waved a flag that had a picture of Sir Bobby on it, whilst many had shirts that had tributes to Sir Bobby on the back. The giant television screen in the corner between the Tesco Stand and the Jewson End had a picture of Robson with 1933-2009. An emotional beginning to mourn a hero of Suffolk.

Once the game kicked off though, the focus was on the future, and what Town fans could anticipate for the coming season. They started brightly, with most of the action occuring at the opposite end, and this prompted the fans to start singing, "We're gonna score in a minute".

Someone did. But it wasn't for Ipswich. Clinton Morrison made the most of a complete mix up in Ipswich's defence to delicately scoop the ball into the net, over Alex Bruce's head. Richard Wright had come storming out, and a lack of communication between him and the captain, Gareth McAuley, left Ipswich 1-0 down and the Town fans frustrated. Coventry fans appeared out of the many, many empty seats to start boasting about their lead. But they didn't care about the Town fans. They cared about Keane.

The momentum rapidly changed. Suddenly, Ipswich couldn't win a ball. The defence looked very weak, apart from Delaney who started alright on the left. When Town won the ball, they desperately tried to get their passing game going. They did. Only to the wrong colour shirts. Liam Trotter's touch was too heavy. Lee Martin and David Norris just could not get into the game, and many forgot that Jaime Peters had started. Only Walters, who looked fitter and faster, having seemingly put his injury woes from last season behind him, looked likely to make a difference.

After 25 minutes, Ipswich found themselves 2-0 down. Again, the defence was left being questioned by the Town fans sat behind their goal. McAuley, who seemed to have forgotten that he'd actually improved towards the end of last season, decided he couldn't do anything about Clinton Morrison on his knee, as the City striker headed the ball into the net. Frustration was soon replaced by joy as Ipswich got the next goal from Jon Walters. It was a lovely finish, and it gave Town hope. They began to look like the team that kicked off the match 40 minutes ago. But it still didn't stop Roy Keane storming off down the tunnel before the half time whistle.

Half time: 2-1 to Coventry
Ipswich began the second half in the same fashion as they started the first. They looked like they were going to "score in a minute" (as the fans put it!), but Coventry's keeper had different ideas, as did the officials and Town themselves. Town fired over the bar from free headers at least three times, Pim Balkenstein being the major culprit.

In the 54th minute, from another corner, David Norris and Jon Stead collided, causing Norris to stay down for a while with a knee injury. The one thing that Stead had come into contact with, and he'd caused it an injury, rather than a goal. Norris painfully limped off to be replaced by Owen Garvan, and when Norris limped in front of the travelling Tractor Boys, he was greeted with a round of applause. He was beginning to get into the game. David Wright offered Norris his shoulder as support, and this was greeted with further applause. It didn't look good for Norris, and he looked fairly grim himself.

Town pressed on. Still desperate for that equaliser. Keane brought off the ineffective Stead and put on 16 year old Connor Wickham. He tried, and almost got his reward, when the linesman's flag had been raised. Town fans were not happy. They hadn't been with that linesman all day. Jon Walters came close, only to be denied by the Coventry goalkeeper, who was very impressive. Throughout the first half, Town didn't get to the second ball. Finally, in the second half, it happened. Someone won the second ball. Unfortunately, they didn't do anything with it and it was the only time they actually got to the second ball throughout the remainder of the match.

Overall, disappointing not to come away with anything, but on another day, Town could've won this match. However, there are good signs for this season. As long as Keano sorts out the defence! Coventry fans were very disappointing, there were more empty blue seats than there were fans. 16000 for the opening game of the season is not great, but then, it's the summer holidays and the match was on Sky Sports.

Town Player ratings:
Richard Wright 5 - Stuck in no man's land for their first goal, didn't have much to do second half, but did make an excellent save towards the end of the match.
Alex Bruce 5 - Really not his greatest game. Would've preferred to have seen him in central defence with McAuley.
Gareth McAuley 5 - Disappointing, should've done better for Clinton Morrison's second.
Pim Balkenstein 5 - Again, disappointing. Wasted many chances to score, and clearances were a bit dodgy.
Damien Delaney 6 - Was good first half. Average and slow second.
David Norris 6 - Started poorly, but seemed to be getting into the game until injury.
Liam Trotter 5 - Couldn't hold onto the ball. Kept passing to the wrong colour, and some of these passes were dire. Would've preferred him to come off than Peters.
Jaime Peters 6 - Shouldn't have come off when he did, as he was looking threatening. Looking forward to seeing more of him this season. Finally.
Jon Walters 8 - By far the best player for Town. Seemed to have shaken off injury problems and transfer rumours from last season. Nice to have him back.
Lee Martin 6 - Can expect something from him this season, like Norris, seemed to be getting into the match in the second half.
Jon Stead 5 - Like having a lame duck up front.
Owen Garvan 6 - Added stability to the midfield.
Connor Wickham 6 - Denied by the linesman. Expect to see more of him this season.
Tamas Priskin 5 - Needed longer studs as he kept slipping over.
Note: You can probably see that this report is from the Ipswich Town view.
I am doing reports as an Ipswich Town fan, to give my view on how the match went for us, from where I was sititng. Please be aware, I will be as critical about my team, as I am about yours. I will give credit where it's due, and I will try to sum it up in the most neutral way I can, but I can't promise much!

I will only do matches that I go to, not ones that I have listened to or watched on Sky, as I feel you don't get the full picture there, as you rely on other people's opinions.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

RIP Sir Bobby

This morning, many of us woke up to the news that a true gentleman of the game of football had passed away after finally losing the battle to that terrible disease.

Sir Bobby Robson.

The man who gave my beloved football team, Ipswich Town, the glory years that we shall never see again (which is a shame, as I wasn't around for this golden era). Sir Bobby will always be loved here in Suffolk. He always made time for our small town club, being made our honourary president and last year being given the freedom of Ipswich. Campaigns for the North Stand to be renamed the 'Sir Bobby Robson Stand' started last year, bur I'm sure it'll begin to gather more momentum now.

Tonight, Town played a friendly against the Spanish side, Real Valladolid. Town won 3-1 and Roy Keane has said that it was a display for Sir Bobby. The match was preceded by a two minute silence and all the players wore black armbands. I haven't been able to get down to Ipswich, this being Suffolk, and there being a bus service every 8 hours to the middle of nowhere, but I'm certain that the statue of the great man will have many tributes and flowers surrounding it.

I got my ticket for Coventry this morning. To be part of the away crowd that day will be amazing. Especially if "There's only one Bobby Robson" is sung. Which it will be, I'm certain. When the North Stand burst into the song at various points last years, it really, really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

A man who nobody has a bad word to say about.
A man worthy of being called a legend.RIP Sir Bobby.