'Ipswich Town are playing nice football, it's been a long time since we saw that'. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard that phrase since Saturday!
Following the disappointment of having to come home from the Middlesbrough game after only half an hour of football, I comforted myself with the fact that for those 37 minutes I was watching something really nice on the pitch. (And I don't just mean Jimmy B warming up...!)
The same was true of our performance against Bristol: There was some really attractive play: passing play, attacking play. Just what we've been after for many years. Paul Jewell commented after the game that when we turn up to play we win, but when we don't we lose. Sounds kind of obvious! But he's right.
Against Birmingham and others less than two months ago, Jewell's side were finally putting in the performances we'd been expecting of them - but were frustratingly managing to lose out to last minute goals and individual errors. They've built on those performances, though, and the recent good results are - touch wood - looking to be less like a 'purple patch' or 'false dawn', and more like the turnaround this club needed.
We're not there yet though, not by a long stretch: games like our trip to Brighton are disappointing. But you can't win them all and, as Jewell said, what you have to be able to do is grind out a result even in the games where we aren't necessarily the best side. That's something we achieved on Tuesday night. Going on our recent form against the top sides in the Championship (i.e. West Ham), I must admit I was hoping for a point or three against Southampton; but then, I'm an eternal optimist. Where Town certainly lived up to expectations at St Mary's was in their desire to 'hang on in there' in defence, but keep on fighting at the front too.
Listening on Ipswich Player, I was impressed with the way Town held on for the opening ten minutes - which felt like chance after chance for Southampton. The thing is, against the top sides in the league you have to expect this: you're not going to be able to stop them having a shot on goal, especially at home. But being able to dig deep and stop that ball going over the line is a sign of how far our defence has come since the wobbly days of conceding 13 goals in just 7 days.
In addition, with the league's top goal scorer coming up against the league's leakiest defence it was inevitable that Lambert would score at some point. This Tractor Girl is happy to read that, though he did of course manage the opening goal, our defence was able to keep control of him for the vast majority of the game.
On the other hand of course, you're also looking at one of the top scoring teams in the league in Ipswich Town. Chopra's well on the way to his target of 20 goals this season and was unlucky not to add to it on Tuesday. But what impressed me most from the commentary was the way we moved so quickly to try and catch Southampton on the break.
We truly are starting to play some attractive football and I am thoroughly enjoying this season, for me this team is well into the stages of development now and next season is set to be exciting!
In Jewell We Trust, eh, it seems he may well be getting it right.
See you Saturday!