Stuart says: Four observations on Ipswich Town’s 0-0 home draw with Burton Albion
PUBLISHED: 11:22 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:22 11 February 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town played out a dour goalless home draw with rock-bottom Burton Albion this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
Burton came into this game bottom of the league. They had lost five games on the spin. They had conceded three or more in their last four outings. Two of their regular back four were injured.
And yet Ipswich failed to land a glove on them in a complete borefest. The loudest cheers of the day were ironic ones when Bersant Celina’s tame long-range effort dribbled through to the keeper in the 85th for the Blues’ first shot on target.
Not only that, Town required two smart stops from Bartosz Bialkowski to salvage a point. Just where would they be without him?
It’s not an exaggeration to say the first half performance was nothing short of an embarrassment. Town failed to produce a notable attack, let alone an attempt on goal. They only had 40% of possession. Most worrying of all was the complete lack of urgency. It’s no wonder the atmosphere was as flat as a pancake.
After being given the hairdryer treatment at half-time the Blues started the second half brighter, but the briefest of sparks soon fizzled out. Bialkowski saved a Darren Bent one-on-one with his legs and then produced a fine reaction stop to prevent the ball rocketing inside the near post off of Luke Chambers following a last minute corner.
Players must take responsibility
The toxic chants about manager Mick McCarthy are back. The wider debate about owner Marcus Evans is being discussed. Town’s players must take a great deal of responsibility today though.
This was the team that many fans would have selected. McCarthy went with the guile of Bersant Celina over the graft of Freddie Sears. There was more than enough attacking talent on the pitch.
No-one seemed to stand up and be counted though. No-one demanded the ball and tried to inject some drive. It was all so passive. If one player made a mistake, another one duly followed. Town needed someone who could grab the game by the scruff of the neck and lead by example. They’ve lacked a ballsy Jim Magilton-type for so long.
McCarthy always talks about how his lads never let him down in terms of effort. Today, as he came off the field to boos, he would be in his rights to feel disappointed.
Oh Ipswich Town, you give us a glimmer of hope and then always seem to let us down.
Having won 2-0 at struggling Sunderland last weekend, the Blues had a golden opportunity to back it up with a win today. It would have set up next Sunday’s visit to rivals Norwich very nicely indeed.
McCarthy’s men have been consistently inconsistent over a highly frustrating 18 months though. Never has there been any real positive momentum to get behind.
To give it come context, the Blues won two or more games in a row on seven occasions in the play-off season of 2014/15. It happened six times in 2015/16. Last season it happened just once – and we had to wait until the Easter weekend.
This season, after winning the opening five games in all competitions, the Blues have managed back-to-back wins just once – against Derby and Nottingham Forest last November/December.
These repeated false dawns are grinding down the spirit of even the most glass-half-full of supporters.
13,815 – that’s Town’s lowest league attendance since October 1998. Four times under Mick McCarthy crowds have dipped 14,500 for Championship fixtures.
So much of the whys and wherefores of Town’s Groundhog Day existence is subjective. The slow and steady decline in attendances is there for owner Marcus Evans to see in black and white though.
Ultimately, that could be the defining factor when he decides what to do about McCarthy’s contract. Smaller crowds means smaller income. It’s a vicious cycle that has to be halted. More of the same is not going to do that.