RAMBLE: Wednesday 1-1 Ipswich Town

RAMBLE: Wednesday 1-1 Ipswich Town

We’re into the business end of the season. Yet still, a lot of things can and will happen.

If you’re a neutral it’s great to watch, but when your team is involved – whichever end of the table you’re at – it’s anything but.

I’m getting more and more nervous as each game approaches and I know I’m not the only one.

As proved at Bristol, no game is ever a guarantee.

As good as we’ve been since the Rotherham defeat; we’re always capable of having an off day – more so away from home. Examples being the defeats at Charlton and MK Dons.

It was always going to be a bad day when the team was announced and six loanees were in the squad. Thankfully, we made the change just in time and it looks like we’ll just get a slap on the wrist from the Football League.

Then Westwood pulled out minutes before kick-off due to illness. It couldn’t get any worse could it? Oh, but it did.

There were some poor performances from individuals (no names mentioned) but the mentality of the team as a whole after going a goal down cost us.

We were the better side up until then. You have to credit Bristol City; they made the most of their opportunities and deserved the win. Again I ask the question: Why are we so bad in the first half of games?

I expect this to be a lesson learned and a kick up the backside we need. We can’t afford to get complacent at this stage.

The silver lining to take away from the game was Cardiff losing late on at Fulham which meant we didn’t lose or gain ground on them. Five points clear with 15 available to play for – we’re essentially a third of the way there.

It’s all about how we were going to react to this setback.

PRE-MATCH

A return for Ireland's #1

A return for Ireland’s #1

Nerves were creeping in. I was hoping that wasn’t going to filter down to the players. As you know I’m normally confident in home games but given the position we’re in, it’s difficult.

As the team news came in; Westwood and Loovens were back after not featuring last week, Hooper was only deemed fit enough to be on the bench.

And only four loanees, I had to make sure. Glad to see we didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Ipswich didn’t have their talisman Daryl Murphy who was injured which was pleasing but they were going to make life difficult for us.

Of course it’s worth noting that this weekend marked the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. 96 innocent Liverpool fans went to a football match and didn’t return home. We shouldn’t forget them.

FIRST HALF

There was a healthy attendance in store for this one as the game started. We needed to set our stall out early and go for it.

But that didn’t happen.

Ipswich started brightly and Freddie Sears twice broke the offside trap and sprinted down the left hand side, getting his shot away on one occasion which Westwood comfortably saved.

Carlos was animated on the touchline. He was far from happy with the officials with decisions going against us and not for the first time.

Touchline antics from Carlos

Touchline antics from Carlos

We got a foothold in the game when Daniel Pudil climbed highest in the box to head a Ross Wallace corner over the bar. He could/should have done better.

From a long kick up field by Westwood, Kieran Lee with some brilliant control found João who shot agonisingly wide. I thought it was going to nestle in the bottom corner but not to be. The replay on the screen shows it wasn’t that far away.

A few minutes later, João was in on net again. This time, Pudil played in a great ball only to be denied by Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal.

Slowly but surely, after a poor opening 20 minutes, we were starting to find our feet and look a threat going forward.

We were looking dangerous from crosses as Wallace delivered a corner in with Lees heading wide at the far post.

Not long after, we countered from an Ipswich corner with Forestieri putting Wallace through and his cross was flapped at by the ‘keeper only for João to not make a connection.

Half an hour gone and we were on top. We’ve been in this situation many times this season and not taken advantage so I got the feeling it was going to be one of those days.

The attacking wave continued with Bannan next to have a chance after good work from Lee and João which was skewed wide. We were applying so much pressure but lacked the killer instinct.

But then…

Just before the break, another cross from Wallace into the corridor of uncertainty (the 18 yard box for those wondering), the defence couldn’t clear, the ball went off João’s leg and that man FORESTIERI was there in the right place to smash it home.

1-0!!! GET IN!

Yesssssssss

Yesssssssss

That’s 15 for the season from the little magician.

It was nothing more than what we deserved.

HALF TIME: WEDNESDAY 1-0 IPSWICH

The goal came at just the right time. It wasn’t a classic by any means but we were winning and that was the most important thing, especially with Cardiff drawing 0-0.

As usual, there’s the half time penalty shoot-out but the person in question from the seat chosen didn’t make an appearance. Instead, we had to put up with Sky Sports News’ very own David Garrido.

The less said about his penalties the better, that’s all I’m saying.

Ipswich made a sub at the break with Andre Dozzell, a 16 year old making his debut, on in place of Kevin Foley.

SECOND HALF

The second half started in the same way. We were attacking at every opportunity and looked to build on the lead.

As time passed, it was turning into an uneventful half but we were in control and Ipswich rarely threatened and didn’t have a genuine goalscoring opportunity of note.

Bannan: really should have added to our lead

Bannan: really should have added to our lead

However, on the hour, some great skill by Forestieri resulted in a shot going sky high into the Kop but the assistant on the near side to me ruled offside.

Midway through the half, Forestieri again was a menace for the Ipswich back line as we countered before finding João who played Bannan through but his sliding effort was a tame one and was straight at the ‘keeper.

After an altercation with Wallace and Kevin “Irn” Bru which saw both players booked, Ipswich went on the attack.

I said they didn’t have a meaningful goalscoring chance; here was their first with 20 minutes to go…

A cross into the box by Feeney whipped the ball into the box and Dozzell was unmarked to head home at the near post, somehow getting in-between Lees and Loovens who were ball watching.

1-1

Typical of us really. We needed a second goal to kill the game off; we didn’t get it and ultimately paid the price.

On the flip side, it’s great to see a young academy player come through the ranks and score on your debut. Unfortunately, it was against us!

Atdhe had a half hance

Atdhe had a half hance

Our response though was immediate.

First, a Bannan cross flashed across the six-yard box which João couldn’t get on the end of (I was saying he needed to be subbed at this point) then of course his low shot was saved well at the near post moments later. The crowd were lifted and gave us hope.

Hooper and Nuhiu both came on in search of finding a winner.

Hooper was welcomed with a few boos from the away end given his Norwich links.

The ball was camped in the Ipswich half as we piled on the pressure.

Wallace’s effort was spilled by the keeper and collected the rebound as Hooper couldn’t pounce.

Then we came even closer. Forestieri charged down the keeper only to be beaten to the ball; however, it was cleared straight into Chambers and went inches wide. From the resulting corner, a scramble in the box ended with the keeper again saving from Wallace.

Four minutes of added time was announced and the drama wasn’t over.

Tom Lees’ header from a Wallace free-kick was cleared off the line by Chambers and set-up a counter-attack only for Knudsen to put his shot wide. I was so relieved.

And that was that. Mixed feelings at the whistle went.

FULL TIME: WEDNESDAY 1-1 IPSWICH

I wanted a reaction and we got one. The performance was good for the most part but it was one lapse in concentration that cost us the win.

We haven’t won against anyone around us for a reason and it showed here, these teams have that bit of extra quality to punish us and it’s something that we lack if we want to kill teams off.

Ipswich were there for the taking and we didn’t capitalise. This really felt like 2 points dropped.

After a poor start, we got to grips with the game and were on top for large spells. Opportunities were there to extend the lead but weren’t taken.

Ipswich were still in the game and scored from their only real effort on goal, they performed average at best. That’s what happens when you have a slender lead.

We could’ve easily lost it at the end too as we pushed forward and left ourselves open.

João, for example, has the potential to be a great player.

The ability is there but he’s so frustrating to watch at times. He drifts in and out of games.

He created a few chances for himself and arguably should’ve scored but I’m sure he’ll get better with age and experience.

On a similar note, we need Gary Hooper to get back amongst the goals and find the form that he had at the start of 2016.

It’s true that we rely heavily on Forestieri; you all know how different we look when he’s not involved. He creates something out of nothing.

On the positive side of things, we’re 1 game closer to where we want to be and we’re in a better position than when we started the day.

Cardiff failed to take advantage of our slip up so it’s as you were in the race for 6th. We’re still in the driving seat – 5 points clear plus a superior goal difference with 12 to play for.

I’d prefer it if we confirmed a play-off place before we play Cardiff so there’s less pressure on us but regardless of that, the focus has to be on Tuesday when relegation-bound MK Dons come to town. Again, slip-ups need to be avoided.

I’d go as far as saying this is a “must win” game. We’ll be under huge pressure as they have nothing to lose.

We’re almost there.

Can we hold our nerve?

Liam
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @LiamK2292


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