North Stander: We need to prove we can beat the top teams in League One

Macauley Bonne reaction on the final whistle after the defeat at Home Park

Macauley Bonne reacts after the final whistle as Ipswich Town lost 2-1 at Plymouth - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt gives his thoughts on the Blues after their 2-1 defeat at Plymouth - with a big game at Wycombe coming up tomorrow night.

Is there a more frustrating football team to support than Ipswich Town? So often they raise our expectations, get our hopes up, and then it all crashes and burns again.

I know I’m being a touch over dramatic. A defeat at league leaders Plymouth isn’t the end of the world, and the truth is we probably deserved a point after missing some clear-cut chances.

But, after the thrilling last-gasp win over Fleetwood, this defeat halts the momentum which was beginning to build, and yet again we lost a game after taking the lead.

Town Chiefs Mark Ashton and Michael O'Leary in the stand at Home Park.

Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton (centre) and chairman Michael O'Leary (right) will be taking questions from supporters at Portman Road tonight. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

It really is a worrying trait. So often we have failed to consolidate after taking the lead. What happened at Plymouth was yet another example.

When is the worst time to concede a goal? Just before half-time, giving the opposition a huge confidence boost going into the break. That’s what we did at Plymouth, against a side not exactly short of self-belief.

What do you need to do at the beginning of the second half when you’ve lost a lead late in the first half? Don’t concede again quickly. Stay solid. We failed to do that in Devon.

I bet I wasn’t the only Town fan who had that awful sinking feeling when Plymouth levelled so close to the half-time whistle. I wish I wasn’t so pessimistic, but our record has created that negative mindset.

Once again, we conceded poor goals – especially the first. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind so much if we forced our opponents to create and score really good goals. But the truth is, we give away so many soft ones.

We remain the division’s top scorers. We are literally full of goals. But at Plymouth we missed some really good chances, especially in the second half.

So, I come back to my initial question. Is there a more frustrating team to support than Ipswich Town? In reality, I expect fans of many teams would feel theirs are just as frustrating.

There is significant mitigation for the defeat in the West Country. The loss of Donacien and Burns to sickness on the morning of the game was a major blow. They have been two of our best performers, and their partnership on the right side is really effective at both ends of the pitch.

I couldn’t really work out Paul Cook’s solution to the problem. Playing Hayden Coulson on the right side, after weeks out, was an odd one. Suffice to say, it didn’t work.

Town fans at Home Park

Town fans at Home Park - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

So, where does that leave us? Well, now seven points out of the play-off places, and we can’t afford that gap to grow any bigger. I know, we are still only a third of the way through the campaign, but it’s already quite a lot to make up.

A win at Wycombe tomorrow night will put a smile back on all Town fans’ faces. Let’s hope Burns and Donacien have recovered by then because their presence will make a big difference.

We do need to prove that we can beat the top teams in this division. Under Paul Lambert, our failure to do so became a massive mental block.

We certainly must not let the same problem to develop again. Wycombe away certainly won’t be easy, but we need to look at it as an opportunity.

The tribute to Paul Mariner at Home Park.

The tribute to Paul Mariner at Home Park. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

A word for our magnificent Ipswich supporters. On Saturday morning, social media was full of messages and pictures of the Blue and White Army heading for Devon.

Tractor Boys and Girls were getting up at silly o’clock to catch early morning trains, to make the long, long journey. They wouldn’t have been back home until the very small hours of Sunday morning. They will have been very grateful for the clocks going back an hour!

We really do have a magnificent fan base. So many incredibly loyal supporters, especially when you consider what they’ve been put through during the last two pretty miserable decades.

Finally, the game on Saturday was also a very poignant occasion, as both sets of fans paid tribute to Paul Mariner, who played so magnificently for both clubs.

The tribute to Paul Mariner at Home Park.

The tribute to Paul Mariner at Home Park. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

I am of the generation of supporters who were fortunate enough to enjoy Mariner at his brilliant peak. What a player, what a striker. 

He is truly a legend, and the poignant tribute was thoroughly warranted.

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