since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 1 - 3 (0) Southampton

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Saturday, March 2, 2002

Referee: M Halsey

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 25,440

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2939


 Finidi George 




















Match Report

Town crash to second successive home defeat

Ipswich crashed to their second successive defeat at Portman Road, as we went down 3-1 against Southampton in a game we couldn't really afford to lose...

Oh dear. I said last week we it was crucial we didn't lose this one, but we did. With three tough away games on trot we now have to face the fact that we're once again in deep trouble. We can't really have too many complaints either; we just didn't do enough to deserve to win. This was a performance that was worryingly similar to the sort the team used to turn in before Christmas. We weren't outplayed, but looked fragile in defence and didn't take our chances when they came.

The first half was a very scrappy affair that neither team dominated or managed to string together more than about two passes. Southampton played their usual physical, boring, frustrating style of football, and Ipswich didn't look capable of breaking them down. They closed down the Ipswich players incredibly quickly and didn't allow any flowing football. I don't blame the Saints for their tactics, they were the away team and it was up to us to find a way through them. But as it turned out, Southampton looked much more dangerous on the break and fully deserved their precious three points.

The closest Town came to scoring was in the 25th minute, when Bent just failed to get on the end of a Stewart cross. But Southampton should have taken the lead, after another Bramble classic. The recalled defender had looked quite solid up to this point, but he needlessly lost the ball to Brett Ormerod and it allowed Davies an easy shot. Marshall saved well, but couldn't hold the ball. It fell into the path of Delap, who amazingly hit the post when it looked easier to score. Another rare chance came in the first half from a Venus corner, but Makin could only fire his shot wide for a throw-in.

We were hopeful that the second half would bring an improvement, but it only got worse. On 52 minutes, Bramble put in a great challenge to dispossess Davies, but the incompetent referee blew up for a free-kick on the edge of the box. It was a terrible decision, and led to Southampton's goal. The free kick cannoned of Stewart and left Marshall stranded.

We then had a couple of good opportunities to equalise, but couldn't take them. Bramble had a shot cleared of the line, and Bent produced a weak shot when through on goal that Jones had no trouble in saving.

As Town continued to push forward with more urgency, Southampton scored a second on the break. Ormerod was completely unmarked as he ran through and beat Marshall. Both Hreidarsson and Bramble were nowhere to be seen, and couldn't catch the striker before he scored.

The game looked to be out of sight now, but Town actually improved, and continued to create chances. Bramble, Hreidarsson and Bent all came close with headers, but Jones wasn't troubled as much as he should have been.

With ten minutes left, hope was finally restored when Finidi scored. After a goalmouth scramble the Nigerian had an open goal, but he so nearly messed it up. His shot summed up the whole afternoon- instead of banging the ball into the net he completely underhit his shot, and it rolled towards the line with Paul Williams attempting to block it. It just went far enough to convince the lino it had crossed the line, but only just.

A draw seemed on the cards now, but Chris Marsden sealed it for the visitors with a solo effort. He beat two defenders comfortably before slotting the ball past Marshall. It was good goal, but questions have to asked as to how a player hardy blessed with an abundance of skill, was able to walk around the defence. It was game set and match, and the crowd quickly headed for the exists.

Overall, this was a dreadful performance. The team have just been on a break, but far from looking revitalised, they looked knackered. A section of the crowd sarcastically chanted "Cyprus- what a great idea", and you have to wonder what good it actually did.

For me, it was the midfield where we lost the game, ours was non-existent. Holland and Magilton might not have bothered coming out the dressing room, such was the impact they made in the first half. We really missed Peralta in midfield, and if the little Argentinean isn't playing you do begin to wonder where the creativity is going to come from.

The defence didn't play too badly, Veno looked solid, but Bramble, after his near fatal error in the first half never regained his confidence and Makin made too many mistakes.

The strikers didn't have any service, so it's unfair to be too critical. Bent's work rate was high and was my man of the match, but so often he was having to track back to win the ball. He shouldn't have to do that, and he won't score if he's back in his own half. Stewart was ominously quiet, and he is currently looking a shadow of the player who used to terrorise defences.

The Referee was terrible, and game changed after the first goal. Had we lost 1-0, we could have felt very hard done by. But we caved in just like we did against Liverpool and Manchester City, and just never got going.

We now have to play Leeds away, and judging on this performance, they'll absolutely murder us. It's set up nicely so that we'll be the team that they finally end their bad run against. I can hardly wait.

From The Terrace

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