Town review of the year - part one

THERE was nothing vintage about the year 2010 at Portman Road.

THERE was nothing vintage about the year 2010 at Portman Road.

It began with Ipswich Town struggling to pull clear of the Championship relegation zone, and ended with them dropping closer to the dreaded bottom three.

In fact, without the nationwide interest surrounding the manager himself – Roy Keane continues to capture the imagination of the footballing public, and hold a fascination with the media – these last 12 months would have been instantly forgettable.

Below is a run-down of the first six months.


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JANUARY

HIGHS: Town kicked off the new year by progressing through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, thanks to goals from Jack Colback and Owen Garvan beside the seaside at a bitterly cold Blackpool. And perhaps the best moment of the whole year arrived just two weeks later, when Pablo Counago netted a dramatic 97th-minute winner against Coventry, after Richard Wood had headed home on 94 minutes.

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LOWS: Brian Murphy, still waiting to make his Town debut, injured his ankle in the warm-up before the 1-1 draw at Leicester on January 9. Town also bowed out of the FA Cup in disappointing fashion, beaten 2-1 at Southampton, and ended the month fourth-from-bottom following a 2-0 defeat at Preston.

KEANE’S QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Praising his relegation-threatened team: “In terms of desire and attitude, I think we’re the best in the league.”

FEBRUARY

HIGHS: A dazzling first-half at Loftus Road, in a midweek fixture on February 9, was enough to secure a 2-1 win for Town over QPR, thanks to goals from David Norris and Daryl Murphy. And 11 days later, winger Carlos Edwards obliged with a long-range rocket to record a precious 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday.

LOWS: Draws, the bane of Town’s life all season, were again the feature of this month, with three stalemates against Middlesbrough, Scunthorpe and Bristol City boosting Town’s tally to 17 draws from 33 games. But the lowest point was a hapless 3-1 defeat at bottom club Peterborough on a Tuesday night (February 16).

KEANE’S QOTM: Talking about the thin line between success and failure: “If it works out, people pat you on the back. But if it doesn’t work out, people think you’re a clown and that you don’t know a thing about football.”

MARCH

HIGHS: Back-to-back home wins over Cardiff City (2-0) and Scunthorpe (1-0) effectively pulled Town clear of the drop zone. Daryl Murphy’s brace downed promotion-chasing Cardiff, and super sub Connor Wickham accounted for the Iron with a last-gasp winner.

LOWS: Town served up a dreadful performance at Watford, on a Tuesday evening (March 16), losing 2-1 and causing manager Keane to lock his players in the dressing room for an hour. He did not face the media until nearly 11pm.

KEANE’S QOTM: After Wickham’s late winner against Scunthorpe: “There are pitfalls for a lot of footballers, whether it be the riches of other clubs, women, Bentleys, drugs, lads losing the eye of the tiger, getting a bad injury in training, whatever.”

APRIL

HIGHS: Keane won the battle of the former Nottingham Forest heroes, as Town coasted to a 3-1 win over Nigel Clough’s Derby on Easter Monday, April 5. Goals from Gareth McAuley, Carlos Edwards and Wickham did the damage.

LOWS: Town only suffered one defeat in April, but the way hosts Nottingham Forest eased to a 3-0 win on a warm day beside the River Trent was a big reality check for all visiting fans.

KEANE’S QOTM: Talking about Brian Clough, on the eve of Town’s trip to Nottingham Forest: “I remember going to Norwich one time. Ten minutes from the ground, he made us get off the bus and walk! We had to walk to the match with all the Norwich supporters. That was him. Off the cuff.”

MAY

HIGHS: At least Town could finally put to bed what had been a depressing season. They finished in 15th spot.

LOWS: Town signed off the season with a heavy home defeat at the hands of Sheffield United, beaten 3-0 on a cold and damp afternoon. They finished seven points clear of the relegation zone.

KEANE’S QOTM: After the final game against Sheffield United: “There’s no summer holidays. We don’t deserve a holiday! My work starts this evening, with phone calls. Trust me. You can ask my wife!”

JUNE

HIGHS: Town players enjoyed a welcome break from the rigours of training, with most of them keeping close tabs on the World Cup. And one of them – Tommy Smith – experienced the World Cup at first-hand by playing in all of New Zealand’s three group matches. All three ended in draws.

LOWS: There were no early moves by Town in the transfer market.

KEANE’S QOTM: He was unavailable for comment during June, and also turned down the chance of some media work during the World Cup.

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