SEASON REVIEW: The best and worst of Ipswich Town 2011/12
In a season that has had almost everything, DAVE GOODERHAM casts his eye over the best and worst of Town over the last nine months.
Given the standard of the opposition, it has to be the 5-1 win over West Ham at the end of January. Town had won just twice in 16 matches, but finally it all came good in spectacular fashion. But it was run close by the 1-0 win at Upton Park way back in September when the Blues put in a incredibly professional shift and dominated the hosts, despite Lee Bowyer’s winner coming in the 89th minute.
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Ryan Stevenson’s rocket was a late contender while for solo skill and a finish to match, Lee Martin and Jason Scotland must come into the reckoning for their strikes against Birmingham and Crystal Palace respectively. But I would plump for Andy Drury’s long-range strike in the 3-0 win over Bristol City, centre, a lovely finish to a crisp move.
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Hard to look beyond Aaron Cresswell. Unlike Emmanuel-Thomas, Drury and Martin, the Supporters’ Player of the Year largely shone throughout the whole season. Clearly a work-in-progress, but still a massive success from Jewell’s plethora of new signings.
Best loan deal
It would have been David Stockdale, Town’s best player over the first few difficult months, had it not been for that recall clause. Keith Andrews’ purple patch gives him the nod even if his success on loan led to a move away.
The day the dream started
Top of the league after day one, six unbeaten in the first few months and then four straight wins in January and February. There were times Ipswich looked like a top-six team. But...
Take your pick. The 7-1 at Peterborough is an obvious one, not least because it was played out in front of the Sky cameras. There were late collapses (Reading, Nottingham Forest – twice), horrific openings (Doncaster) and some pretty horrendous overall performances - Millwall away springs to mind. But the one that sticks in my mind has to be the 4-0 drubbing at Burnley in late November. Not many Town fans were there to see it, thankfully, but it was a truly abject showing by the Blues’ ‘big names’. Embarrassing.
Again, so many to choose from in a season categorised by dire defensive displays. Ibrahima Sonko’s mistake against Leeds was probably the worst individual error, but the late goals conceded in successive matches against Forest and Reading in November turned out to be defining moments.
Would be easy to say Ivar Ingimarsson, but personally I think signing an experienced leader and medal-winner was a risk worth taking – however it turned out. Personally, I would go for Nathan Ellington. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but most were concerned about the direction Ellington’s career was heading before he arrived on a free transfer. And he has done nothing to suggest otherwise since signing on the dotted line.
Worst loan deal
There can only be one. Step forward, Reece Wabara. Came to Portman Road with a promising reputation and should have been the kind of young and hungry loan player that Town should be targeting. But failed to make an impact at Championship level.
The day the dream died
Ipswich were never consistent enough to mount a serious challenge on the play-offs. But after one defeat in 10, including seven wins, the Blue Army arrived on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Watford daring to dream. Then the Hornets hoodoo struck again and everything unravelled.