First champagne, now bread and butter

A great day out but that is all it was and now the focus must return to the bread and butter.

Derek Davis

A great day out but that is all it was and now the focus must return to the bread and butter.

Plucky Ipswich gave the mighty Chelsea scare and for almost 20 minutes came close to nearly matching the Premier League side.

All good stuff and a bright spot in what has been a fairly dismal season for Town fans so far, but after the excitement and fun of a day in the sun in the classier part of west London, it is back to reality today as Ipswich prepare for what should be a guaranteed three points at Barnsley.


You may also want to watch:


Certainly if Town play with the effort and, at times tempo, they showed at Stamford Bridge they can do unto the Tykes what they did to them at Portman Road last September, even without the help of a bumbling goalkeeper this time.

The watching Barnsley scout will have noted how Town exploited Chelsea's Achilles heel, their zonal marking at set plays, and while Owen Garvan may not be quite in the Michael Ballack or Frank Lampard class just yet, he can hit a mean free kick.

Most Read

His left-footed delivery from a good 30 yards out at an angle carried all the way to the six yard box and Ricardo Carvalho did a poor job of intercepting. The ball fell kindly for an unmarked Alex Bruce who swept it home majestically and wheeled away fist pumping to milk the rapturous applause of the 6,000 Blues fans packed behind Petr Cech's goal.

The added bonus was as the equaliser came in the 33rd minute his dad Steve was still in his seat to see it, after missing his son's first ever goal when leaving early at Birmingham.

Although Bruce's contract dispute has not been settled, it is unlikely Ipswich will let him leave in this window and so there is a chance he can grab a third for the Blues before the end of the season.

Defensively he was given a tough time at right back with Ashley Cole overlapping past Florent Malou and it was down this route that Chelsea had opened the scoring.

The travelling Town fans, who brought their balloons, beach ball and banners, were in full voice, even when the side were getting a shellacking.

The London side had dominated the first quarter hour with Lampard and Ballack pulling the Town midfield all over the place.

When Brazilian defender Alex calmly played the ball out from the back and gave a simple pass to Lampard, there didn't look to be much on.

But the England midfield splayed a pass wide and Cole's first time pass into the area was met by Ballack and the German eased between Gareth McAuley and Pim Balkestein tuned it past Richard Wright.

Quality football, with deadly finishing.

But last year's Champions' League finalists then got all sloppy and Town sniffed their chance and were rewarded when Juliano Belletti conceded the free kick.

Both sides then had good chances to go ahead. Malouda found Lampard and his shot was well saved by Wright and town burst up the other end. Sadly though, Danny Haynes lacked the composure to finish from the edge of the area after good work from Jon Walters and his shot ended up in among the Town throng at the Shed End.

Haynes and Walters alternated between giving right back Cole a hard time and the England defender looked happier going forward than being turned and must have been relieved to see both taken off in the second half.

It was a half dominated by Chelsea who emphasised the gulf in class between a side challenging for the Premier League title and one struggling to move away from mid-table obscurity in the Championship.

While you could not fault the effort of the Town players it was clear they were going at full pelt while Chelsea never really looked as if they were in top gear.

Even though they were not at their best, Chelsea's movement was slick, their football incisive and if it had not been for some fine individual moments and a collective desire not to be embarrassed, the scoreline would have been much, much worse.

David Wright was impressive on his return to the side after a hamstring-related injury and passed the ultimate fitness test when he tussled with Salomon Kalou at full speed from the half-way line all the way do to the moment he bundled him into the advertising hoardings.

Richard Wright made a string of vital saves, arguably the best when he was down quickly to a low shot from Kalou who had been played in by Lampard.

Moments later he made a double to stop to deny a Ballack long range effort and the follow up from Jose Bosingwa.

As it was even when Didier Drogba and Deco went on, Chelsea were kept at bay. It took two free kicks to break Town's resistance.

The first came when Ballack

Then came the cherry on top.

David Norris was booked for a foul on Drogba and from nearly 35-yards out Lampard hit a powerful, swerving free kick that dipped under the bar at the last moment leaving even the outstanding Wright beaten all ends up.

While Town had a couple of counters, Jon Stead threatened and Kevin Lisbie came within inches of getting on the end of one low cross.

Town were well-beaten but will take a lot of positives out of it.

They can see how far they have to go but will know that at their best they can produce decent football, the trick is to do it for 90 minutes, and in every game.

Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari showed his intent with a full-strength Chelsea side and used his bench well. Branislav Ivanovic went on for the injured Carvalho, and later gave his shirt to Veliche Shumulikoski, who will be have disappointed he did not get on to face Lampard once again after playing against him at international level

Another who will have been miffed is Dan Harding who played well in the 4-1 win at Crystal Palace and missed out again after he was earlier refused permission by Town to play in the third round for Southend against Chelsea while on loan at Roots Hall.

With Ben Thatcher expected back in the fold tomorrow, Harding is not likely to be in the squad for Barnsley, and only tiredness will probably force any changes to the side who are looking to extend their unbeaten league run to four games.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter