since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 0 - 1 (1) Newcastle United

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Sunday, December 9, 2001

Referee: R Styles

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,748

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2926













Robbie Elliott











Match Report

Nolberto Salano tap in undoes Town

Surprise, surprise, Ipswich have lost again, this time going down to a single goal at home to Newcastle United. An easy Nolberto Salano tap in was all that was needed to undo the Town defence today, and the necessary firepower just wasn't there to hit back..

Today's match was an all too familiar affair. Over ninety minutes we deserved better. Newcastle looked nothing more than ordinary, but essentially scored one of only a few chances they created all match. Despite dominating the remainder of the match, Town threatened the opposing goal far too seldom, and defending their lead was all a bit too easy for the Magpies. George Burley made several changes to the team that lost in Italy, with Armstrong and Marcus Bent being teamed together up front. But the most eye-catching changes were the decision to totally drop Bramble from the team and the bench, and the decision to omit fan's favourite Sixto Peralta from the starting line up. John McGreal was instated into the centre of defence. The first fifteen minutes of the game was quite open, with both teams playing an attractive passing game. Craig Bellamy endeared himself further to the Ipswich public by whinging to the ref every time he was dispossessed, and all the early chances fell to Ipswich. Marcus Bent used his pace and forced Shay Given into an error, but the ball didn't fall kindly. Bent again crossed into the danger area, but no one could get on the end of it. The closest Newcastle came was a free kick that Robert curled hopelessly wide. But after twenty minutes, Town's all too generous defence gifted Newcastle the lead. An unmarked Salano crossed to Speed, whose weak shot was parried by Sereni. Solano followed up by tapping into an empty net. We had to wait until 35 minutes before our next real decent attempt was created, and what a flowing move it was, with Marcus Bent feeding Armstrong in. Big Al fired in a shot that looked to be heading for the top corner, but Given pulled off a great save. A penalty appeal was turned down when Holland's shot was handled in the area by a defender. God knows why a penalty wasn't awarded; perhaps we had used up all our penalty luck in Milan. To add insult, the inept Rob Styles then booked John McGreal after he was blatantly fouled by Bellamy. Styles waved play on as McGreal handled the ball assuming he had won a free kick, and then showed him the yellow card after Bellamy fluffed his shot. Just before half time, Jamma had a great opportunity to level the scores, but in true ‘Jamma style', banged his close range shot skywards and over. The second half could have been a replay of the Bolton game. Newcastle were happy to absorb Ipswich's attacks, not that there were too many good ones to mention. Armstrong nearly rounded Given, but pushed the ball too far, and Bent swivelled well and hit a shot over the bar after a Finidi cross. Newcastle's chances on the break increased as Town pressed up, and Shearer had a good effort saved from Sereni. Another penalty appeal was turned down Jamma's goal bound shot was handled, but bizarrely Stiles saw nothing. Peralta and Counago were both introduced, and the pair did liven things up, especially Counago, who managed to turn the Newcastle defence well several times. The pair must wonder why they had to wait so long before being introduced. The game ended with Town being unable to push for the equaliser, with Newcastle enjoying more possession. The Magpies worked very hard for their victory, and Bobby Robson has certainly got his team working hard- their work rate was superb. But again Ipswich failed dismally to turn possession into points. Before this game Opta statistics revealed that this season we have had more shots than only a few of teams, and more corners than anyone else in the league. But the table doesn't lie, and I can't put my finger on what is wrong with the team. I expect Burley is at a loss, and wonders what can be done to improve things. The team generally offers so much potential, but week after week fails to deliver. This latest defeat underlines something we already knew. Ipswich are simply unable to win. Not only that, we now don't even look capable of winning a point. It's getting quite depressing writing match reports during this depressing run, and I just can't see an end to it. I seem to be repeating myself every week, attempting to make positive points amid huge disappointments of successive losses. But at the end of the day, we have to face facts. It hurts me immensely to say it, but the team simply aren't good enough collectively. Barring a miracle we're now heading back to the Nationwide. Being unlucky once is one thing, but only winning once all season is another. Before the match David Sheepshanks made an emotional speech thanking all the thousands of fans who trekked to Milan. Sheepy's words came from the heart, and it's just a pity the players don't seem able to share their chairman's passion or commitment. I'm writing this severely depressed and basically pissed off- I'm sorry if I sound so negative. Things may look brighter in the morning. Having just watched the BBC's Sport's personality of the year, it was great to relive the superb 5-1 victory by England over Germany. It seemed such a long time ago. Then it dawned on me that Ipswich's last league victory, against Derby, was even before that game. We've got win soon, haven't we? Even bad teams win every now and then, the laws of averages dictate it.

From The Terrace

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