Fan’s View 2021/22 – No.19 – Ipswich away

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, November 14th, 2021  

FAN’S VIEW 21/22 – NO.19

IPSWICH TOWN 0 OXFORD UNITED 0

There wasn’t that much goal mouth action nor sustained spells of smooth link up flowing football with either side getting the other on the ropes and giving the impression that they were genuinely about to win the game. Yet this was a fantastic game between two good sides that was gripping from first to last. Another match that showcased the quality and entertainment that is to be had in tier 3 of English football. At 27 quid full price I suppose we have some justification in demanding vfm but that 21,322, including 922 following the Yellows (in black), tells much of what a football club means to its fans.

This was our third fixture in a row against the Tractor Boys that has end without a goal going into either team’s net. I take more pleasure from this one than the previous two because they look a much improved side this season. They are playing well and getting results. Of their previous six league games they’d won four and drawn one. If they continue to play like they did on Saturday I doubt many sides will take much from their visits to Portman Road during the rest of the campaign. As with all teams the IF here is very significant because whatever impression a team gives at any stage of a season, form comes and goes. (NB: The saying – “Form is temporary, class is permanent). It’s up to each and every one of us who has an opinion on football to work it out.

Take Sunderland. After 12 games they’d won 9 drawn 1 and lost 2 and were second on 28 points, a point behind top team Plymouth but with two games in hand. There was a feeling that they’d cracked L1 at last. They’ve played three games since and have lost the lot scoring just once and getting well beaten at Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday.

This said I expect both Ipswich and the Black Cats to be in the mix when this season is drawing to a close. And us too. Plus a fair few more. It’s competitive, it’s fascinating.

This was a games of firsts. The first time Ipswich have failed to score this season and the first time we’ve kept a clean sheet away from home.

All this indicates that the point we gained is an excellent one and come the final reckoning could be very valuable.

What the eye tells the brain and the stats, as far as they can be trusted, can provide two quite separate bodies of evidence.

I don’t think that there is any doubt we played better before the break than after and in the second forty five minutes the home side were superior to us.

Taking the first period as a whole there’s an argument that we slightly shaded it but I think that takes a bit of a battering when Ipswich twice hitting Simon Eastwood’s right hand upright is produced as evidence against.

So time to look at the stats.

Ipswich 56% possession. Yes, that’s how I saw it over 90 plus minutes.

Passes – Ipswich 413, Oxford 325. That figures.

Passing accuracy – Ipswich 71%, Oxford 66% and in opponents half 59% and 53% respectively. A bit disappointing, that.

But who is sat there clicking a button to produce such numbers? Oxford crosses 18, crossing accuracy 0%. What constitutes a cross and what had to happen for it to be considered accurate? I thought this was one of those games when almost nothing was created for Matty Taylor so perhaps this zero accuracy is actually accurate. If so there’s a clear pointer for something to work on at the training ground.

Then there’s the shooting stats. These came as a surprise to me. Ipswich two on target from eight. Us, three on target from 11. If I had been asked to guess I would have been nowhere near our figure. But putting this into some kind of context the Ipswich efforts that hit our goal frame count as off target. Technically correct but very misleading.

In the first half I thought we played some good passing possession football without ever looking like seriously breaching the Ipswich defence, which was one that impressed me both individually and collectively. Their attacking men down the flanks, particularly the left, also looked very effective.

To have lived with them and possibly slightly shading it was very encouraging, as was holding out in the second half when I had no doubt they were the better side but never had the feeling that I often do that a goal for our opponents is almost inevitable.  I thought it just as likely that Nathan Holland might break through at the other end but that the outcome was almost certainly going to be 0-0.

As this was one of those games open to many interpretations I thought it worth having a peek at the Tractor Boys fans forum to see how the blue side viewed the proceedings. Particularly so as there was a chant of “boring boring Oxford” at one stage and loud talk of “timewasters” as we left the ground along with other activity that I hoped had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

What I found was all very balanced and sensible and understandably they put their players under the microscope in the same way that we do ours.

“It maybe goal less but a very good game of football especially at this level. Oxford have looked good but we’ve been the closest to scoring. Looking forward to the second half”.

“Good game of football”.

“Both sides making mistakes as the fear of losing creeps into the game. To be fair neither side deserves to lose”.

“Their manager is a pr*ck”.

“A clean sheet against a more than capable Oxford side. Nice to see those mistakes gradually being ironed out hey!”

“That was as good a 0-0 draw as you will ever see especially in this league. Very entertaining and enjoyable to watch”.

“I felt in that first half they moved the ball round better than us, won far more second ball and generally looked slightly better without creating anything clear cut. The second half was definitely better by Town and we controlled much of it, openings were coming and going and way too many final balls and crosses were wasted, we just didn’t overly work the keeper, Bonne had the best chance but under hit it badly”.

“I think Oxford can count themselves lucky to have got a point today. From what I saw they had the upper hand for the first 20mins, thereafter they did very little to bother us”.

“In the end I felt a draw wasn’t far off being correct but Town probably just edged the 90 minutes. Centre midfield was once again a concern and we lost that battle for me, Evans flatters to deceive and all too often is slow to react or out of position, Morsy had one of his least effective games. Burns just didn’t get into the game and Bonne was mostly poor. Celina was a mix of good and lazy while I’m sorry to say it but Kyle Edwards is pish, every single time he fails to deliver, his crosses are woeful and all too often he runs up blind alleys, not impressed with him at all, not just today either”.

Probably more than enough cutting and pasting here so time to stop and look through the OUFC microscope at the performance.

Much praise has to go to our defence. Elliott Moore is becoming a tower of strength. Winning so much in the air which must give confidence to those around him. His partner Jordan Thorniley wasn’t found wanting either and at left back Steve Seddon who has been somewhat criticised recently had a much better game defensively. At times he nipped inside to help out and it could be that with neither him nor Sam Long getting forward much that made us more solid at the back. Whether that was due to playing as per managerial instructions or the way the game unfolded I don’t know.

For all that let’s not forget that a few inches to the right and we would have gone down by two goals. First time this was in the fifth minute – Macauley Bonne getting on the end of a well bent near post corner to go tantalisingly close for them with a glancing header. Herbie Kane, given the size of each of them and movement of the Ipswich forward, couldn’t do anything to prevent the chance.

It was us who next came very close a minute later. Taylor having received the ball from a throw-in doing very well indeed to hold off a defender and turn it to Mark Sykes who only had positive forward thoughts. He cut towards goal and from just outside the area slid into the ball and unleashed a shot that looked destined for the top corner. The save from Christian Walton, who has spent almost his entire career out on loan, was rather good. He’s registered with Brighton, not Chelsea, in case anyone is interested. That was the severest test he was given all game.

Sykes was something of a stand out in the first half but like most, his brightness dimmed to quite a degree in the second as it became more about preserving a point than going in search of the maximum.

The second hitter of our post was Bersant Celina and how quickly this chance was fashioned was a slight worry. Walton cleared long to defender Bailey Clements on the touch line on the half way line and the youngster took the ball well on his chest setting himself up to mount a raid down the wing. Sykes was in his wake and never able to catch up. Long couldn’t engage as he had a man to keep an eye on to his right. Kane got back but being between Clements and Celina wasn’t able to be a hindrance to either as the pass was made. Clements wanted the return but he was running in to traffic. Celina with enough space wisely took the option to shoot but again we got away with one with the ball falling nicely for Long to put it behind for a corner.

Part two saw Eastwood the busier of the two keepers when he showed his goal stopping credentials, going down alertly to his left to keep out a low effort from Bonne. Best add here that many think he got a slight touch on that Celina shot too. I certainly couldn’t tell. Easty will know though.

It wasn’t just the two post incidents though where we rode our luck. There was another dangerous ball in from Clements which Bonne with a little help from Seddon couldn’t quite get on the end of.

One Oxford player who disappointed me was James Henry who appeared to be a bit off the pace and it was a pity we couldn’t have got Holland in the game more. That of course is easier said than done when facing well organised opposition.

So what of our dark arts / cheating / running the clock down? At the time I thought there was a bit of gamesmanship which to a large extent we’d been lacking over the years and that has cost us. We’ve seen other teams employ it way more than we did here and anyway there was nowhere near as much of it here as a significant number of Ipswich fans would have you believe.

When Taylor went down I agree that we did have the opportunity to put the ball out but didn’t and understand the Tractor Boys’ ire when Scott Oldham, the referee, stopped play. But no way was our no.9 feigning it.  An arm / shoulder injury apparently which will at least keep him out of the FA cup replay on Tuesday night. As for the rest a bit of cramp here or there perhaps but I can’t recall much of it. If that was what was wrong with Easty then that was a bit strange but when he went down from afar I thought Joe Piggot had jumped into him.

At the outset I intended this not be such a long View but a link I followed on Yellows Forum has certainly put paid to that because it provided a gold mine of material that I just cannot ignore. It’s on You Tube and is “Kings of Anglia” Gameday and seems to be if not official then at least sanctioned by ITFC given where it is filmed. I make no apologies for more quotes.

Fan no.1 – “There’s an epidemic of crap referees. I’d be embarrassed to be from Oxford and an Oxford fan anyway. If that’s what you watch every Saturday I feel sorry for you. Your team is an embarrassment to the division. You aren’t going anywhere near the top six.”  Turns out that was really mild to what came later.

Next up was a bizarre pair that turned out to look fairly normal when compared to the guy after them. “Oxford looked scared of us in the second half”. “A lot of balls were bouncing on the floor when they should have got a head on it”.

And then a bloke in pink shirt and painted nails. Fair play for that but what came out of his mouth, unless the whole thing is a spoof which has taken me in, raised questions of sanity. He does look a fair bit like a well-known comedian and actor but he’s from Clapham.

“I hope Oxford never win another football match in their entire lives and go out of the bottom of the league, decapitate themselves and end up in the arse end of nowhere being nobodies because I hate cheats and they were cheating. It’s not gamesmanship it is cheating and it’s a disgrace. I don’t mind losing or drawing to a team that’s better than you, losing or drawing if some random fluke happens and you just balls it up. I object strongly to coming up against a side which are basically just sodding cheats which is what they are. The only reason they got away with being sodding cheats is because the referee is a spineless piece of turd who should never be on a football pitch again in his life …… “

There was more but enough is enough.  What the feck would have happened to these guys’ internal organs if the opposition had been managed by a Steve Evans or Gareth Ainsworth?  I’d guess his pinkness would have turned crimson and then exploded.

Great entertainment.

Then there was post-match as we exited. More locals had a problem with something, well Oxford fans heading home apparently.  A couple with arms out from their side bouncing on their toes ready to bounce forward looking for some. This they did but I think they stopped short of actually engaging. There were quite a few more hanging about and the police had two or three held up against a fence. I didn’t see any punches thrown but it was all quite depressing and pathetic really. Is it coming back or is it that there are just pockets of backwardness that were never properly snuffed out? There’s a massive difference between wannabes and real hard men. The latter have respect and no way would behave like this.

What a contrast leaving the ground was to entering it. With timed tickets and the need to show evidence of double jabbing or negative Covid tests there was a concern long queues would build. Not a bit of it. A quick check and in we went.

All in for kick off

Our slot was between 14:15 and 14:30 which meant we left the pubs a few minutes earlier than we probably would have done. As on our last visit the Briarbank brewery was our first stop. I’d forgotten if you don’t ask you get a beer mug with handle. I was a little disappointed as I was with the Lord Nelson bang opposite which has now made it into the Good Beer Guide.

Tuesday brings an unwanted game but it’s a suppose I have to so go on then and the usual path of the Annexe and the Drapers will probably be trodden.

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