since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 2 - 3 (1) West Ham United

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Referee: S Dunn

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 22,834

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2917























Match Report

Town in deeper trouble at foot of table

Ipswich failed again to register a much-needed victory at Portman Road, as West Ham took the honours with a 3-2 win. This was other disappointing performance, and puts us in deeper trouble at the foot of table...

Oh dear. Just when we thought things were looking up, it all goes pear-shaped again. George Burley made a few changes to the team that finished against Southampton, but they failed to produce the goods. In recent weeks I've blamed our new strip, the new South stand, playing on Sundays, and John Scales' departure as reasons for Town's fall from grace. But to be honest, I'm at a loss. Back to the game. Thomas Gaardsoe made his debut in the centre of defence, and Chris Makin kept Wilnis on the bench. But perhaps the most eyebrow-raising decision, was to drop the recently impressive Sixto Peralta and play Jermaine Wright in the centre of midfield. Clapham and Reuser played on the flanks, as Town reverted to a 4-4-2 system. I might as well use the same introduction for every match report, as yet this game followed a familiar pattern; Town looked good early on, then went one down. Why do we always give teams head starts? To be fair, it was a well-worked Hammers move. There was a touch of luck as Hutchinson's pass went through Hreidarsson's legs to free Di Canio, but the irresistible Italian made no mistake as he brilliantly beat Sereni. Despite this now obligatory setback, the players did continue to scrap and battle. Martin Reuser nearly scored with another of his free kick specials, but Shaka Hislop just managed to get enough of a fingertip on the ball to turn it around the post. Chris Makin's looping header looked to have beaten the West Ham keeper, but again he denied Town as he scrambled across his goal and pushed the ball past the on-rushing Armstrong. It was agonisingly close, and seemed to sum up Town's position. That old football cliché ‘things never go for you when you're at the bottom' seemed very apt. West Ham were happy to pile men behind the ball and attempt to take Town on the break, and as Town dominated proceedings, they looked equally comfortable soaking up our attacks. The teams trooped off at half time with Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart having what best can be described as a ‘very heated debate'. I love Stewart to bits, but I don't like this habit he's developed, of having a go at the other players if things aren't going well. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the crowd. When Town came out for the second half, Burley decided to reinstall Peralta in the heart of midfield. It was Clapham who was perhaps unlucky to be sacrificed in the reshuffle, with Jamma moving out to the left. Ipswich continued to dominate possession, but we didn't really look like scoring. It therefore almost came as a surprise when Herman Hreidarsson restored hope with an equaliser. Mark Venus swung in another dangerous free kick, and big Herman thankfully stabbed it into the back of the net. Veno has been involved in all of Town's last four goals, and the impact dead-ball specialist has made since his return cannot be underestimated. With the crowd firmly behind the team, we were all hoping for a charge to victory. But as usual, we were brought back down to earth with another dose of abysmal Ipswich defending. Nigel Winterburn (Winterburn for christ's sake!) was allowed to waltz into the area unchallenged before setting up Freddie Kanoute. The Frenchman completely miss-hit his shot, but it took a cruel deflection off Herman and somehow bobbled over a stranded Sereni. The warning signs had already been there. West Ham were looking increasingly dangerous on the break as Town pressed forward, and when a Peralta mistake allowed Michael Carrick to rattle the bar with a tremendous shot, we should have tightened up. The West Ham trademark slick passing was too evident, as Di Canio excelled in the wide spaces with his twisting and turning. The Ipswich defenders seemed at times scared to challenge him, and in happier circumstances his performance would have been one to applaud. The clock ticked down with Town unable to create anything worth of note. It was all over when West Ham broke again through Defoe. With only Gaardsoe to beat, he almost taunted the poor young debutant as he approached the box, and then coolly slotted the ball past Sereni. The ground was rapidly emptying when Matty Holland decided to score a 30-yard scorcher. Any other day, I'd rave on about this spectacular effort, but frankly, he might as well not have bothered. It was too little too late. It brought a half-hearted cheer from the crowd, but ultimately, his strike meant nothing. I don't know what to make of this defeat. West Ham have some great players who can really turn it on, and they produced some good football today. They should be well pleased with their day's work. But I don't know if we were just poor, or if we caught West Ham when they were having a good day. We can feel a bit unlucky, as if our first half chances had gone in, it could have been very different. But we can't keep blaming luck, and we don't look capable of beating anyone at Portman Road at the moment. We didn't create half as many chances as we did against Southampton, and this was supposedly the worse defence in the division. I feel a bit sorry for Gaardsoe. He was given a torrid baptism of fire in his first Premier League game, but he didn't do too bad, and at times actually looked very good. At times our passing game worked well, but it's the final third where we struggle. We just don't get behind defences like we used to. We also seem to chop and change the team every game at the moment, and it can't help the players. For example, I don't know why Burley decided to switch Venus to central defence, and move Herman out wide. Both players were in the defence at Southampton- why swap them? The same goes for midfield. I think Burley needs to work out his best combination, and stick to it. That way the players will learn a system and generate an understanding between themselves. Counago came on in place of Armstrong for much of the second half, but he didn't offer much more. I think it's about time Darren Bent's pace and power is unleashed on the Premiership. Tony Mowbray was quoted in last night's Evening Star as saying we HAD to win this one. Well, we haven't, and you have to wonder what this defeat will do to us. Amazingly, we still aren't in the relegation zone yet, but at this rate, that isn't going to be long. It's not only that we're not winning, it's that in the last four games we've played the league's weaker teams, and failed to beat any of them. There's no doubt about it, we're up to our necks in the brown stuff, and at the moment it's hard to see a way out.

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