Alan's fears over Town pitch

IPSWICH Town's award-winning head groundsman Alan Ferguson today admitted that he didn't want Monday's FA Youth Cup game against Watford played at Portman Road.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town's award-winning head groundsman Alan Ferguson today admitted that he didn't want Monday's FA Youth Cup game against Watford played at Portman Road.

But he revealed that the pitch stood up well and remains in A1 condition for the visit of Blackpool in the Coca-Cola Championship on Saturday.

“It was one of the worse conditions I have seen a game played in,” said Ferguson. “We had a month's rain fall in 24 hours with 21 millimetres, which is almost an inch.


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“Two seasons ago I would not have had a pitch left to work on, but it did not cut up at all.

“Thanks to the work and effort put in Jim Magilton's side will have a good surface to play on against Blackpool.

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“There is some frost in the top surface, but you would not know a match had been played on it this week. We intend to put up the protecting tent tomorrow.”

Looking back on Monday's match when the referee called a halt after 88 minutes with the score 0-0, Ferguson said: “At 4pm we had no problem and it was quite easy to take down the first two sheets of the protective tent.

“But I needed the help of stadium manager Trevor Kirton and safety officer Mick Warden plus 25 stewards to remove the third sheet.

“The weight was so much after all the rain, and everybody did a wonderful job.

“We were expecting it to continue to rain and it did. To be honest the nearer we got to kick-off I wanted the tie called off.

“The referee decided to start, but when we went out at the interval it was so bad I was amazed to see him come out for the second period.

“The ball was not rolling and it was difficult for the youngsters to keep their feet. As a groundsman you would never forgive yourself if a player suffered an injury because of the conditions.

“Both sides deserve credit for playing on, but why the referee called a halt after 88 minutes I don't know.

“It made me very angry with conditions no worse than they were after 45 minutes as the penetrating rain had flattened the surface.

“The referee told me that he had representations from both sides that it was getting dangerous.”

Because the fifth round tie was abandoned before the 90th minute the 'replay' will be staged at Portman Road - and Ferguson says there will be a pitch fit for the occasion.

After his native Scotland, Brazil is Ferguson's favourite international side and says he was fortunate to have seen them at their best at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal on Tuesday.

“The first 45 minutes was as good champagne football as you will see,” said Ferguson. “And Robinho's goal was worth the admission money alone.”

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