Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Cole Of The Season?

Pre-match meal

It doesn't get much better than this, a must win game under the Portman Road Floodlights, after a beautiful, sunny, spring day.
Cardiff, who have found life tough back in the Championship following their relegation after just one season in the Premier League were the visitors.

Freddie Sears opened the scoring for the Tractor Boys after just eight minutes with his eighth goal since arriving in the January transfer window, in front of a disappointing crowd (considering that we're still in play-off contention) of  just 17,772.
The Bluebirds were awarded a free-kick four minutes later deep into Town territory, when Cole Skuse was booked for shirt pulling. They took full advantage and levelled things up, Eion Doyle heading in Scott Malone's cross after some interchanged passes by the touch-line.
It was then down to Skuse to calm the nerves of the home supporters, he opened his Town account, in his eighty-second appearance for the Blues, with a thunderbolt half-volley from thirty yards out, giving former Budgie, David Marshall in the Cardiff goal no chance. At that point, (after thirty minutes) I had maximum points in the TWTD's Prediction League, should I have visited the bookies
The rest of the match was a pretty edgy affair, Marshall made a couple of telling saves from Tommy Smith and Daryl Murphy, there was a flashpoint between Tyrone Mings and Fabio Da Silva, the former Man Utd player - a bit of a mismatch given their respective heights! 'Your the twin they didn't want' sang the North Stand as he escaped with just a yellow card.
The visitors had a good chance to level things up once more with time running out, but fortunately Aron Gunnarsson, who looked odds on to score  put his effort wide of the mark.
Deep into injury time Murphy, following a neat pass from man of the match Skuse, nutmegged Marshall to put the result beyond doubt, sending Portman Road delirious - especially Sharon who had correctly predicted a 3-1 victory, to send her up to second place in the afore mentioned TWTD's Prediction League!

Once again results elsewhere went our way, Wolves and Brentford both lost giving us a three point cushion above them, with just three matches remaining. 

Sharon up to second place!

The Big One

Our season is now turning into something resembling a rollercoaster ride and ironically enough it was rock bottom Blackpool, (whose own Championship ride was terminated last weekend) who were the latest visitors to Portman Road.
We were lying in eighth position, three points off the play-offs, following our dismal 2-1 loss at Huddersfield on Easter Monday, in what Mick McCarthy described as our worse performance since he became manager.
Derby scraped a 1-1 draw with an injury time goal from Darren Bent, in the lunchtime game at home to Brentford, the perfect result from our point of view.
Blackpool, with nothing to play for took a shock lead in the fourth minute, courtesy of some poor defending, giving Portman Road a real nervy feel. Freddie Sears eased the tension with two goals in the space of four minutes mid-way through the half and from there on it seemed that there would only be one outcome, with Town well on top.
Things became edgy again in the second half when Blackpool managed to equalise - all too easily, with less twenty five minutes left to play.
I felt confident that we would find a winner and my faith was repaid when Christophe Berra headed in Daryl Murphy's deft cross from close range. We managed to hold on to the lead for the remaining seven minutes plus added on time to secure a vital, if not expected three points.
With Wolves losing at Birmingham, it meant that we had crept back in to the top six again!

What a waste of money!

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Long Good Friday

Another live game on SKY, meaning another unorthodox kick-off time - 5.15pm on a Good Friday. Paul had rung me on Thursday to say that he was in town, so Tracey took my season ticket and I ended up with him behind the goal in row A of the North Stand, they were just about the only tickets available when I brought them online. It made a change to be right next to the pitch and have a different perspective of the game, it’s certainly more frantic close up.
Town started the game brightly against the current league leaders and went ahead after six minutes through Freddie Sears.
Bournemouth grew into the game and in all honesty played some really attractive football creating more chances than Town. Ipswich's keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had to be at his best and pulled off a string of fine saves throughout the game. He was beaten in the eighty-second minute by a looping header from Cherries substitute Kenwyne Jones (who only recently joined the visitors on-loan from Cardiff). An inspired substitution? He scored with his first touch on his debut! So it finished honours even for the fourth successive league game between Ipswich & AFC (“Always F****n Cheating, that’s what that stands for.” I heard somebody shout that out, in response to their   numerous attempts to win free-kicks) Bournemouth.

The league is so tight at the top this season with eight teams fighting it out for promotion. If you compare it to two seasons ago Leicester finished sixth with sixty-eight points (the same total that us, Derby and Wolves have at the moment, after forty matches). Last season at the same stage (with six matches remaining) Leicester were already promoted!
After the game we met up in Degeros before going next door to Zizzi for food. We then made the mistake of going to K Bar, where Max and his mates were assembled, we then made another mistake (apart from Paul, who had decided to walk home) in having "kitchen drinks" when we got home! Suffice to say that Saturday was a quiet affair.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Oh Happy Day

We're back in it!
Town are back up into the top six again following a dramatic injury time winning goal from on loan Richard Chaplow. He took his goal with such aplomb after he was put through with a neat pass from Freddie Sears. After carrying the ball towards the menacing looking Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes and with seemingly all the time in the world, he just coolly side footed the ball into the net, signally mass celebrations from everyone connected with the Tractor Boys and a mass exodus from the Hornets fans.
My day had started in Christchurch Park, where I did the Jaffa secession, before taking part in my first Ipswich Park Run. The Park Run is in Chantry Park for most of the year but moves to Christchurch Park for the winter, it was the penultimate week there, before relocating and as I'm away next week, I decided to give it a go.
It was a quick dash home for a shower and bacon rolls following the run, before picking up Max's mates Simon and Darren (he stayed with Leanne in London and was meeting us in Watford!)
We were parked up near to the ground just before 1pm and tagged along with the boys to The Moon Over Water in the town centre which was very lively and full of Ipswich fans.

Max turned up in time to hear the new Delia song, adopted from the Derby County fans who had protested about the high cost of tickets charged to away fans during their recent visit to Carrow Road.
"Arsehole, arsehole, arsehole.
Delia's a f**kin arsehole.
Twenty is plenty, forty is naughty.
Delia's a f**kin arsehole."
The song caught on very quick and reverberated around the pub for several minutes, the Town fans obviously enjoyed it and it caught on inside the ground later that afternoon too!
Sharon & I left the lads in the pub and walked to the ground - complete with the newly finished 'Sir Elton John Stand', which has part of the lyrics of 'Your Song' written along the complete length of it, how bizarre, I thought that type of thing only ever happened in Norwich.

"You can tell everybody"

Harry the Hornet - we wiped the smile off his face!
I guess as a spectacle the match would have been a dull affair to the neutral. Watford were denied a clear scoring opportunity by a resolute Ipswich side and other than the injury time drama the only real talking point was the first half injury picked up by Joel Ekstrand, who had to leave the pitch on a stretcher and is out for the rest of 2015 with a cruciate knee ligament injury. Karma for his nasty tackle on Johnny Williams in the reverse fixture at Portman Road?

Chris Kamara doing his bit for Sky Sports

When we got back to the car Max got a call from Simon telling him that Darren had been arrested for going onto the pitch. He was celebrating with Jay Tabb after the goal and had failed to dodge the Police!
We drove to the ground and whilst I was looking for somebody to ask what they do with arrestees spotted Mick McCarthy & Terry Connor,  so I decided to get a photo with the Town boss, Darren could wait!

I found out that Darren would have been transferred to Watford Police Station so we headed over there. While we driving along Vicarage Road we spotted Terry Connor walking along and as we joined the queuing traffic Max jumped out of the car and got a 'selfie' with the Town assistant manager. 'Timing is everything' he told him as the lights changed and we pulled away!

Once at Watford Police Station we learnt that Darren would be kept for two or three hours whilst they decided whether to charge him or not, so we headed home, after all we had Rudie to attend to!
As it turned out Darren was released without charge at about 9pm and got home at 1.30am on Sunday, all's well that ends well! I don't think he'll be on the pitch for a little while - unless there's a mass invasion.
As far as away days goes this one was well up there with the best, a really enjoyable, fun filled day with a dramatic (in more ways than one) finish!
We now go into another international break and when we resume on Good Friday against top of the table Bournemouth at Portman Road it becomes a ten game season for promotion (assuming we don't now manage to get there automatically).