Mike Bacon: 'I left Portman Road having regained my love of football at the old place.'

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Joyous scenes as Town's U18s go through to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup. Here the team celebrate their late, late winner, with Jesse Nwabueze leading the celebrations! - Credit: Ross Halls

I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed watching last Friday's FA Youth Cup quarter-final clash between Town and Sheffield United's u18s.

What a match it was - a marathon, an absolute marathon. Thirty minutes of injury time, 30 minutes of extra-time.

Not one inch given by either side. Nothing left on the pitch by all the players. The longer it went on, the better it got. I even cared little I had to re-write my intro as Elkan Baggott powered home a late equaliser for the Blues to take it into extra-time.

It was that good, and I left Portman Road having regained my love of football at the old place.

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Elkan Baggott's thumping header pulls Town level in the U18 clash with Sheffield United. - Credit: Ross Halls

A big thank you to Adem Atay and his young team.

It was such a shame fans were not in the stadium to see it. I was lucky enough to be reporting on it and fans would have made it an even more special night than it already was.

So, good luck to the boys against Liverpool in the semi-finals next week. As Adem said to me afterwards, our u18s showed what Ipswich Town is all about. He's right, it's about time Ipswich fans had something to smile and cheer about - and his young team are providing that.

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So, back to League One and it's one game to go. Thank goodness for that. And already the rumour-mill is in full swing. Edwards to Sunderland, Chambers, Skuse and Sears off to Col U. It's going to be quite a summer, lots of change.

However, it's the return of fans that is going to be the biggest change in football next season - both at Portman Road and elsewhere.

I think some players have got far too used to playing without fans. It's not their fault of course, but many are going to be in for a shock - good or bad, whichever way you want to look at it - when fans return.

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Town's U18s celebrate Nico Valentine's opener against Sheffield United - Credit: Ross Halls

I mean, can you imagine what Portman Road would have been like this season?

Apart from half empty, the fans who did bother would have been venting their spleens on a regular basis. If players think it's been horrible reading about their performances in the papers or online, how about if fans had been able to voice their opinions in the flesh?

Paul Cook has already said: "Our supporters are tired now and bored of us." Imagine if they had been in the stadium.

Luke Woolfenden at Shrewsbury Town.

Luke Woolfenden, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes leave the pitch at Shrewsbury - Credit: Pagepix Limited

So, lots of work ahead for Cook and our new owners and lots of work for our retained and incoming players.

A 0-0 draw at a Shrewsbury team who are in the poorest of form - and despite having eight starting players who are all under contract at Town next season - just shows how much work there is to be done.

TOWN TRIO OFF TO Col U?

We're all behind Cook and the new regime but after so many false dawns there really can't afford to be another. To have fallen from grace this season - and in seasons gone by in - the manner we have has been nothing short of disgraceful.

Elsewhere on this website tomorrow, I speak to Russell Osman about Town's 1981 UEFA Cup-winning team. It was 40 years ago tomorrow - or today if you are reading this on Thursday, that Town beat AZ 67 Alkmaar 3-0 in the first leg of that final - and of course went on to win it two weeks later in the second leg.

Paul Cook at Shrewsbury Town.

Paul Cook at Shrewsbury. He has a lot of work ahead this summer. - Credit: Pagepix Limited

As a football club right now, we couldn't be more further away from those days.

So, let's just get Sunday over with and Town's final match of the season against Fleetwood. Few fans seriously care how we get on - which says much on its own.

Monday morning - let the hard work begin.

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