MATCH COMMENT: How ironic that Ipswich Town chose to ‘opt out’ on Jordan Rhodes

Jordan Rhodes fires Blackburn in front against Ipswich on Saturday

Jordan Rhodes fires Blackburn in front against Ipswich on Saturday - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town’s push for the play-offs received a major set-back as Jordan Rhodes once again came back to haunt his former club in a 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers. STUART WATSON takes a look back at the game.

OVERVIEW

Ipswich Town’s push for the play-offs received a major set-back as Jordan Rhodes once again came back to haunt his former club in a 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers.

There was little between the two sides for the opening hour of the match at Ewood Park, Rhodes – anonymous until that stage – producing a typically clinical finish to break the deadlock in the 64th minute.

It was the former Kesgrave High School pupil’s third goal in as many games against his boyhood club, the 24-year-old having netted an incredible 141 times for clubs and country since departing Portman Road less than four years ago.


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The goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and Rovers comfortably saw out the match, Rudy Gestede heading home from a corner 10 minutes from time.

Mick McCarthy’s men – along with Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Bournemouth – are five points adrift of sixth-place Reading.

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Their six-game run-in starts with a game at a 17th-placed Huddersfield side, winless in seven, tomorrow night.

COMMENT

It was the very definition of irony.

Last Thursday, Ipswich Town Football Club faced a major backlash from fans angry that a £120 ‘opt out’ charge had been included on top of their season ticket renewal price. Why had it been added? Because the club is desperately trying to raise funds to upgrade its academy and hit an ambitious target of having half of the squad made up of homegrown talent by 2017.

Two days later, in a game which could so easily have gone either way, it was a player the club opted out of themselves who made the difference.

Jordan Rhodes came through the Town youth system only to be let go for a paltry £750,000 less than five years ago. Since then he has helped Huddersfield to League One promotion, made an £8m switch to Blackburn and earned international call-ups for Scotland.

His goal on Saturday – the 141st he’s scored for clubs and country since departing Portman Road – was a typically clinical finish.

Ipswich owner Marcus Evans is equally as clinical when it comes to business. The decision to include ‘opt out’ charges may raise an extra few thousand pounds from fans, but will the bad taste which has been left in so many of the mouths of so many ‘customers’ be worth it? If just one more Jordan Rhodes emerges from Playford Road over the next four years then arguably yes.

Then again, would they get their chance to shine or could history repeat itself?

‘That’s what eight million pounds gets you’ rued Mick McCarthy, reflecting on Rhodes’ crisp, low, left-footed strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

While Town fans were once again left wondering just why Roy Keane handed the former Kesgrave High School pupil just 10 substitute appearances before selling him to fund a move for Tamas Priskin, you also have to wonder whether McCarthy would have repeated the same mistake as the man he infamously fell-out with during the 2002 World Cup.

Rhodes doesn’t chase back to make a tackle in the full-back positions, he doesn’t run the channels, he’s not blessed with lightening pace and he’s not going to hold the ball up. And, as we all know, that doesn’t sit well with Mick.

Predatory goalscorers are priceless though. That innate ability to be in the right place at the right time, combined with an unerring ability to put the ball in the back of the net – be it with right foot, left foot, head or backside – is rare to find.

And that’s why it makes it even more galling that Town had one only to let him slip through the net. The fact that he loved the club and counted himself as a supporter only adds bitterness to the pills that he keeps dishing out to swallow.

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and all that. Maybe it’s time to move on.

This is 2014 and Ipswich don’t have an eight million pound player. In fact, their entire starting XI on Saturday cost less than £400,000 in transfer fees.

The dream of a top six finish may once again hang by a thread, but this squad has really been punching above its weight.

To even be in with a shot at promotion with six games to go is incredible given the fact that relegation to the third tier was still very much a possibility this time last year.

Now they’re competing week-in, week-out. As with the vast majority of Town’s defeats this season, the margin between success and failure was minimal at the weekend.

The previous four defeats were all followed up with victories. Carry on that pattern with a win at Huddersfield tomorrow night and the dream lives on for another few days at the very least.

Mistakes are there to be learned from. It’s time for Ipswich Town to look to the future.

PLAYER RATINGS

BLACKBURN ROVERS

1 Paul Robinson

Always alert 7

16 Michael Keane

Man U loanee always on front foot 7

5 Grant Hanley

Solid and dependable 7

4 Matt Kilgallon

Read game superbly 8

3 Tommy Spurr

Some good crosses into box 7

45 Tom Cairney

Always an outlet 7

17 Lee Williamson

Good energy in middle 6

29 Corry Evans

Kept things simple 6

32 Craig Conway

Some superb deliveries 8

11 Jordan Rhodes

Super opener was key 7

39 Rudy Gestede

Assist, goal, handful throughout 9

Substitutes

13 Simon Eastwood(unused)

7 Josh King(unused)

8 David Dunn(Gestede 83)

15 Luke Varney 6(Evans 78)

19 Chris Taylor(unused)

20 Dickson Etuhu(Williamson 90+)

22 Liam Feeney(unused)

IPSWICH TOWN

22 Dean Gerken

Smart stop in first half 6

4 Luke Chambers (cpt)

Always occupied by Conway 6

6 Christophe Berra

Not usual dominant self 6

5 Tommy Smith

Had hands full with Gestede 6

3 Aaron Cresswell

Got forward when he could 7

14 Anthony Wordsworth

Got about the pitch 7

8 Cole Skuse

Tidy if unadventurous 6

19 Luke Hyam

Shielded back four well 6

35 Frank Nouble

Reverted to type a bit 6

25 Jonny Williams

Demanded ball. Everywhere 8

9 Daryl Murphy

Won so many defensive headers 7

Substitutes

1 Scott Loach(unused)

24 Frazer Richardson(unused)

15 Tyrone Mings(unused)

18 Jay Tabb(unused)

16 Paul Green(Hyam 90)

12 Stephen Hunt(Williams 86)

27 S Ebanks-Blake 6(Wordsworth 73)

STATS

BLACKBURN

Bookings: Kilgallon (56), Williamson (63)

Sendings off: None

Shots on target 5

Shots off target 7

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 5

Fouls 11

IPSWICH

Bookings: Wordsworth (37), Chambers (51)

Sendings off: None

Shots on target 3

Shots off target 4

Hit woodwork 0

Corners 3

Fouls 12

TOWN MAN-OF-THE-MATCH

Jonny Williams

Once again at the heart of everything good that the Blues did. Got stuck in, drew fouls, got good crosses into the box and continually demanded the ball in tight areas. Hopefully Crystal Palace’s 3-0 win over Cardiff means they won’t be recalling him anytime soon.

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