Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reading an all too familiar story at Portman Road

The fairy tale season for Ipswich Town has taken a further turn of worry this week, with the feeling of disappointment and slight despair becoming a little too familiar. We had become somewhat accustomed to the good run of form that saw us reach as high as second in the Championship on Boxing Day. But we were cautiously so because, as Ipswich fans, we're used to the nail biting twists a season inevitably brings. Still, before the game on Saturday my friends were saying to me, "maybe, just maybe Amy. This is our year". What I don’t understand, is why we appear to be such a different side to the squad that saw just two defeats in 22 games and only one home defeat since August? It’s virtually the same players, so what has changed for us to go from beating promotion favourites Boro, to losing to fourteenth placed Reading? Since the start of 2015, our results have been slipping and all too often we’ve come away from the match saying ‘it just wasn’t our day’ (I refer here specifically to Rotherham away and Reading at home). That’s all well and good, but how many times can we think that? Sometimes you just have to grab the royals by their crown jewels make it your day. So, what did go wrong on Saturday? In my humble opinion, a number of factors played a part: the first being was the absence of David McGoldrick. Whilst it's true he isn’t a prolific goal scorer, something we were warned about by Forest fans, he does have a huge influence on games. He controls the game in that final third by keeping the ball on the ground and passing it around cleverly to create chances. Without him, we seemingly had no control at that end of the pitch, no plan going forward. Balls were just 'hoofed' forward to Murphy, who was clearly clearly was experiencing a 'it just isn't my day' performance. This for me was the second factor which influenced our defeat, and will have been in no small part to the protective gear he was wearing on his face. Now, it would be pretty mean of me to not feel any sympathy for him with relation to the mask. I mean, the man was a hero last week playing on despite a broken nose during the match against Fulham. But, I felt it distracted him on Saturday by making him hold back and there's no point punting balls up front to someone who can't play for headers due to an injury and piece of kit he's not yet used to. He and Sears both missed clear cut chances early on, which might have changed the game completely - much like Daryl did at Rotherham. From another point of view though, credit needs to be paid to Reading for a strong defence that never really gave us the room to breathe. For the first half of the match they constantly had ten men defending in the box, preventing us from pulling back that one goal deficit. Mick McCarthy referred to them as parasites in his post match interview, for breeding off every mistake and sticking to us to stop us playing. But it's his job to make sure we're the ones controlling the game, not the opposition. Teams like Reading are increasingly showing they have worked out how to play against us, perhaps that is the difference between our team now and the one two months ago. We need a comeback, a plan B. And with that we come to the final factor that inifluenced our most recent defeat: the lack of confidence. The goal we conceded was poor and against the run of play, but it showed three defenders looking very frustrated with their keeper as he was perhaps a little slow to react to a shot from the lively Mackie. It was sad to see from a back four who had been so solid earlier in the season, when Luke Chambers was a regular in the centre. To my mind, Mick has two tasks ahead of the match against Birmingham: 1. To reintroduce Parr, who looked lively as a substitute on Saturday, and allow Chambers to return to the centre 2. To reinstill that confidence that saw is in a dream land of promotion parties and fist pumps Articles today suggest he will make more than one change due to the large number of games in the next two weeks. But those are the only two I ask for. Because, one thing's for sure, we head into tonight's match with one eye on Sunday - a win tonight would set us up nicely with the confidence needed for a derby say win, but a defeat would surely lead to the fourth defeat to our bitter rivals in a row. Enjoy the match if you're on your way and tweet my your thoughts at 9:30! @tractorgirlamy8