North Stander: Here's how many wins I think we need to reach play-offs

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna pictured ahead of the game.

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna has inspired a late play-off run since taking over - but is it just out of reach now? - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Journalist and Ipswich Town fan Terry Hunt offers his thoughts on the Blues after their 0-0 draw with Portsmouth...

I really hope the footballing gods spare me from having to watch any more teams who treat a goalless draw like the equivalent of winning the Champions League. It’s so embarrassing.

Portsmouth were the latest culprits. Bang on 70 minutes, lo and behold, two of their players sank to the turf and so it began. Cue 20 minutes of rolling around in apparent agony after being tackled, throw-ins taking an eternity, and even their manager joining in with the spoiling tactics.

Luke Woolfenden and Cameron Burgess speaking with the linesman at the end of the match.

Luke Woolfenden and Cameron Burgess speaking with the linesman at the end of the match. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

We’ve seen it so many times at Portman Road this season. And the irritating thing is that too often the ultra-negative visitors get what they came for - a precious point.

If Town don’t score an early goal, and draw the opposition out of their defensive shell, then we can struggle to break down a packed defence, especially when weakened by injuries. More on that later.

But the main source of my criticism was the referee, for failing to clamp down on it. Mr. Sarginson simply didn’t get a grip on Pompey’s blatant time-wasting. He might just as well have been Sgt. Wilson from Dad’s Army: “Come on, chaps, would you mind just hurrying up a tiny bit, if it’s not too much trouble?”

If he’d dished out a yellow card or two, then he would have nipped it in the bud. But that never seems to happen, does it?

Of course, our mounting injury list is the big concern. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw Sam Morsy’s name on the team sheet, but our influential skipper only lasted 20 minutes and presumably will now be out for a while.

Most Read

Then, to cap it all, Kayden Jackson, our only in-form striker, looks like he’ll be missing for a lengthy spell.

With Morsy, Jackson, George Edmundson and Lee Evans all missing, we are going into the make-or-break part of the campaign without some of our most important players. Far from ideal.

I have to say, Cameron Burgess was a terrific replacement for Edmundson. He looked calm and composed on the ball, made some crucial interceptions, and his power in the air was important at both ends of the pitch.

After a slow start, Tom Carroll also did well, especially when you consider he had been in bed ill all week. Carroll is a thoroughbred footballer, who recycles the ball beautifully. But he is, let’s be honest, a completely different type of player to Sam Morsy. Who would I rather be tackled by - Morsy or Carroll? Hmmm...I’ll get back to you....

Macauley Bonne reacts after his late goal was disallowed.

Macauley Bonne reacts after his late goal was disallowed. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

That leaves Tyreeq Bakinson as our only ball winner in midfield. I really don’t know what to make of him. Sometimes he looks imperious, gliding over the turf, winning the ball, and using it intelligently and effectively. Then there are occasions when he messes up what looks an easy pass and presents the ball to the other team. Very strange.

The defensive stats under Kieran McKenna grow more freakishly impressive week by week. That’s 11 clean sheets now, and in truth we never looked like conceding against Portsmouth.

It’s goals we need, and it was a crying shame that what we all thought was the winner from Macauley Bonne was ruled out for offside. It was just what he’s been needing these past few difficult months - an unmissable tap-in from a couple of yards out.

If that goal had been allowed, we might have seen Bonne go on another red-hot scoring streak, similar to his exploits earlier in the season.

Macauley Bonne has the ball in the back of the net, although the goal was disallowed.

Macauley Bonne has the ball in the back of the net, although the goal was disallowed. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

McKenna said after the game that VAR would have allowed the goal to stand. Yes, he’s right, but I don’t especially blame the officials for getting it wrong with no technology to back them up.

So, we seem to be cemented into ninth place. Despite a great run under McKenna, we’re still five points adrift of that sixth place, and all our play-off rivals seem to keep on winning relentlessly.

It will be tough now. I reckon we need to win six of our last eight games to give ourselves a fighting chance, and even that might not be enough. With injuries piling up, and some difficult games, it’s going to take an extraordinary end to the campaign.

On a more positive note, I was really pleased to see the plans for the stadium. After years of stagnation, these new owners really do have ambition and intent, both on and off the pitch.

We might fall short this season, but the future is definitely bright.