It must have been a sensational game yesterday as two of our regular contributors took time to write up their experiences for the site. Richard Godson and Jake Tonge have both written for us before, so here are their takes on the afternoon, starting with Richard.
Nice Game. Shame About The Port
For months now, we’ve barely been able to buy a goal and all of a sudden five come along at once. Set against three scored by an opposition who clearly came not to park the bus in front of the goal but play some football and you have a recipe for drama and excitement; real edge of seat stuff, writes Richard Godson.
I had a feeling about this encounter. Quite why, I’m not sure. I’d seen the cup replay in which the stalemate was broken by Ipswich in the final minute of play. In the four games since, we’d scored three and conceded four, winning two and losing two but as I walked from my car to the ground……. No, as I drove to the City, in fact even as I walked the dog before setting out, I honestly felt this was the day the floodgates would open. I’d no justification for it and all the evidence pointed to yet another tight and not very inspiring encounter.
However, as the winter sun set over LN5 and the sky turned first pink, then crimson and ultimately the deepest ruby akin to the bottle of Duff Gordon 1991 that I’d been saving for some as yet unspecified special occasion but which Mrs G, criminally, used to thin the cranberry sauce on Christmas Day, a (nearly) packed Sincil Bank (note to Editor: Change to LNER Stadium if you think appropriate.) saw a veritable succession of Christmas presents unwrapped before its barely believing eyes.
It didn’t take long for the first to be opened with Harry Anderson, like a bull at a gate behind which is a field full of young and very inviting heifers, burst into the box and unleashed a veritable Exocet into the corner of the South Park net. The only surprise was that it didn’t go clean through it. There followed close to half an hour of open play in which I gained some lasting impressions, some probably exaggerated after a night’s dreaming sleep. Jake Hesketh, seemingly everywhere in a midfield full of industry and having his best game in a red and white jersey. Morrell and O’Connor similarly productive in front of a back four who seemed perfectly capable of dealing with any attacking threat from Ipswich. Up front Tyler Walker running, intercepting, passing, shooting, teasing, taunting the Ipswich defence, aided by a resurgent Jorge Grant and an ever willing Harry Anderson. Then, a foul in front of the Stacey West end box and a free kick blasted over the wall and past a despairing dive from Vickers into the net. Ipswich were level and we had a contest on our hands, as if we didn’t already know it.
Then, on the stroke of half time, a beautifully weighted through ball from Neal Eardley whose early passing radar malfunctions had thankfully been repaired, was seized upon by Walker like a leopard onto a startled gazelle. Leaping forward his lob executed a perfect arc over the advancing Ipswich keeper, Norris bouncing over the goal line and into the roof of the net. 2 – 1 and time for a cuppa.
I chatted to George and Doreen, veterans of the last league encounter between these two sides when, according to the match programme, Bill Anderson’s Imps went down to future World Cup winning manager Alf Ramsey’s Tractor Boys. However the conversation wasn’t about that match. Why would it be, after what we had just witnessed in the first forty five?
The second period began much like the first with plenty of pace, endeavour and enterprise but it was the visitors who were to trouble the scorer next. A soft pass from an otherwise immaculate Bolger led to a corner from which the ball somehow found its way into the back of the net. Ipswich were level again and for a few minutes threatened to take the advantage. I missed the Oxford game in September, having to work that day so I am perhaps not as fearful as some of a collapse akin to England’s batting middle order and as I expected, the red and white wall stood firm while the midfield continued to create opportunities. One such saw Joe Morrell take the ball to the bye line and shaking off two shepherding defenders, square the ball perfectly for Walker to steer home at the back post. Seven minutes later and it was four. A short corner to Morrell who delivered a teasing cross for the waiting Bostwick to turn in, again at the back post. I swear his beard grew three inches in that moment!
However, Ipswich weren’t quite finished with Keane netting their third and first from open play in the 83rd minute. Cue seven minutes of squeaky bum time thought many, I’m quite sure. I felt quite serene, I have to say and in time added on at the end of the game, Jake Hesketh delivered a fifth to put the game beyond any doubt. I was delighted for Jake. I admired his performance above all others, even that of Tyler Walker, selected with ample justification by both Tommo and the official sponsors. Above all though, this was a team effort, with all those taking part making valuable contributions. By this time the Stacey West end was emptying fast, prompting a few lines of ‘Is there a fire drill?’ from me, but we don’t do singing in the Selenity do we, so all I managed to attract were a few bemused looks from otherwise joyous home supporters.
One further observation. Michael Appleton is much more sparing in his use of substitutes. Only Ellis Chapman for the tiring Michael O’Connor was deployed. I guess, he feels that if things are going well, there’s no need to risk disrupting a team that’s getting it right. The only potential downside on this occasion might be some tired legs on New Year’s Day but I guess he has that figured out.
So concluded a game that, I think, will be regarded as something of a vintage one in years to come. Eight goals, five of them ours and a packed house, the vast majority of whom headed home in high spirits, which brings me back to that bottle of vintage port. It really was very good. In fact, I have never tasted better. It lasted two days and I only hope City’s revival lasts rather longer.