Sunday Snap: Football's pulse returns, first impressions and Town prove they can be a force for good
- Credit: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town lost 2-0 to Portsmouth yesterday. Andy Warren looks at the events surrounding the game.
This felt like a football match.
That hasn’t been the case so far this season. Portman Road has been a soulless, miserable place during much of the last three, empty, months.
From the smattering of blue shirts outside the ground at 1.30pm to the round of applause as the Ipswich players were led out to warm up by captain Luke Chambers, this all felt normal again.
There were boos when the Portsmouth team emerged for kick-off, roars of encouragement when Town’s young players took risks and tried to make things happen. Shouts of dissatisfaction at half and full time and frustrated cries directed at manager Paul Lambert as the game drifted away from Ipswich.
On the pitch, sadly, it was the same old story for Ipswich as they once again failed to deliver in a big moment. It’s worrying, to say the least. Beating promotion contenders is a step they’ve simply been unable to take.
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But off it, strides were made.
It was wonderful to see.
There has been a negative cloud descending on Ipswich Town over the last few months as long-held frustrations
But two important messages came through loud and clear as the club once again showed off its good side.
The club has always been an inclusive, welcoming one so it should come as no surprise that, when both sides took the knee prior to kick-off in support of the fight against racism and for racial equality, all areas of Portman Road responded with applause.
It was good to see and hear, particularly given the well-publicised scenes at Millwall and Colchester a week ago.
Town also showed their support for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign during this game, with all four corner flags, Chambers’ captain’s armband and even the fourth official’s electronic board proudly showing off the rainbow.
The campaign aims to 'make sport everyone's game', with the focus on creating LGBTQ+ inclusive environments within football.
Things may be miserable on the pitch at times, but these two messages show just how Ipswich Town can continue to be a force for good.
This was the first time any of Ipswich Town’s summer signings had played in front of Ipswich fans.
And, in the main, those 2,000 in the ground were given a good snapshot of what the five players have been about so far during the campaign while thousands watched at home behind their laptops.
David Cornell made some good saves and was as arguably Ipswich’s most vocal player, while not always looking entirely convincing under cross or when kicking from the floor.
Mark McGuinness has all the defensive attributes – he can head it, kick it, read the game well and look commanding at times – but can sometimes get a little overexcited and display the innocence of youth when mistiming balls in the air and on the ground.
Stephen Ward’s early season form, which saw him command the left flank, has dipped somewhat and he’s now finding it difficult to get forward regularly while facing stiff challenges at the back.
Keanan Bennetts is positive, looks to make things happen in dangerous areas but struggles to find the end product.
Oli Hawkins lacks nothing in the effort department but, unless he’s fed the ball in the right areas by team-mates he struggles to make an impact on the game.
This was also the first time Ipswich fans will have seen their players wearing the club’s new home kit in the flesh. That, unlike much of the football on show, remains a thing of beauty.
The above heat map tells Ipswich Town’s story.
The pitch shows where Ipswich had possession against Portsmouth – the darker the colour, the more possession was had in that area of the pitch.
Ipswich were kicking from left to right. It’s not a good look at all.
It’s going to be a while yet before away fans are going to be allowed back into football grounds. And that’s a real shame, because the toing-and-froing between rival tribes is a huge part of the matchday experience.
But a little bit of Pompey was inside Portman Road this weekend, with the famous chimes clanging throughout long periods of the second half.
How they got there, nobody knows.