North Stander: 'The truth is, there will be no easy games for us'

Macauley Bonne kisses the Town badge on his shirt after scoring.

Macauley Bonne kisses the Town badge on his shirt after scoring. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt shares his thoughts after yesterday's 2-2 draw with Morecambe at Portman Road.

It was a storyline straight from the Roy of the Rovers annual.

Ipswich boy comes off the bench to make his debut for his beloved hometown club - and scores a vital injury time goal in front of ecstatic, adoring fans.

Yes, Chantry lad Macauley Bonne is home after a nomadic football career, and Town fans have a new cult hero.

Much of the rest of the curtain raiser against Morecambe was a reminder of the realities of professional football.

The level of excitement and expectation was totally understandable, given the advent of a new regime at Portman Road, and the fact that most supporters hadn’t been able to see their team in real life for 18 months. It was rather like taking a cork out of a bottle of fizz. Great atmosphere.

Macauley Bonne (left of picture) turns to celebrate after scoring to level the game at 2-2.

Macauley Bonne (left of picture) turns to celebrate after scoring to level the game at 2-2. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

But it was never likely that our team of new boys was going to produce 90 minutes of champagne football.

There were some moments - especially the first goal. Once partnerships start developing throughout the team, then we can look forward to much more of that kind of slick, incisive and thrilling football.

That will take time, though. Football isn’t all Roy of the Rovers miracles. It’s about putting in the hard yards on the training pitches at Playford Road, getting to know your new team-mates and developing an understanding of how they play.

As I’ve said before, I think it will take a dozen or so games for that to happen. Then, we will see this team at its best - and, in League One terms, I think we will be pretty formidable.

The other irritating factor is that clubs won’t just roll over against us. The complete opposite is true, actually - they will raise their game when playing big clubs like Ipswich.

Imagine being a Morecambe player walking out of the tunnel at Portman Road, a ground steeped in glorious history, into an electric atmosphere generated by more than 21,000 fans.

I suppose it might intimidate some visiting players, but surely for the vast majority it will be inspirational. For Morecambe, playing their first game at this level, it was certainly a huge occasion and they acquitted themselves very well.

The truth is, there will be no easy games. Half the teams in the division will eyeing up a top six place. Ipswich, for all their new spending power, have no divine right to success. The added quality we have in the squad will need to be allied to a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Our performance against Morecambe was encouraging in parts. It was great to see Kane Vincent-Young looking fit, although understandably a little rusty on occasions.

Another positive is that it’s clear we will have a lot more creativity and invention in the middle of the park once the understanding develops between players.

And we have an embarrassment of riches up front. How many League One teams have strikers like James Norwood and Macauley Bonne on the bench, waiting to join the action? Of course, it was those two who combined so thrillingly for Bonne to score the injury time equaliser for the team he has supported all his life. Real fairytale stuff.

A distraught Toto Nsiala heads back to the changing rooms after suffering a first half injury.

A distraught Toto Nsiala heads back to the changing rooms after suffering a first half injury. - Credit: Steve Waller -

The competition between the strikers will keep them all hungry and on their toes. Hopefully that means lots of goals to look forward to!

Most of the worries are at the back. The two goals we conceded against Morecambe were really sloppy - a throwback to some of the horrors of last season.

If a team scores a really good goal against you, then fair enough. But both of the goals we conceded against Morecambe were needless, and self inflicted. We really will have to banish those individual mistakes, and collective hesitancy, if we are to look solid.

The Woolfenden-Nsiala partnership has never looked convincing. With Nsiala going off injured, maybe we’ll see George Edmundson, our new recruit from Rangers, in action soon. Hopefully he will bring some much-needed solidity.

A mention in dispatches should go to Janoi Donacien, who came off the bench to do a decent job against Morecambe.
Donacien, you will recall, arrived during the short-lived and ill-fated Paul Hurst era, and has basically been a bit-part player ever since, including being sent out on loan.

But, on the odd occasions when he has been needed, he’s never let us down.

The games come thick and fast at this time of the season, and there’s little time to pause and reflect.

We’re up and running, the new era has opened in earnest, and the fans are back at Portman Road and in excellent voice.

Lots to look forward to!

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