MATCH COMMENT: It might not be pretty, but Ipswich Town fans certainly have a team to be proud of
- Credit: Archant
It might not be pretty, but Ipswich Town fans certainly have a team to be proud of.
David McGoldrick’s second-half penalty proved the difference as Ipswich Town beat struggling Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in a forgettable match at Portman Road.
It was an ugly win, but a crucial one considering top six rivals – Reading, Blackburn, Wigan and Leeds – were also victorious.
The Blues remain seventh place in the Championship table and four points adrift of the play-off places heading into games against bottom-half duo Barnsley (away on Saturday) and Blackpool (at home the following weekend).
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Bolton drop to 20th place in the table and remain four points above the drop zone after claiming just nine points from a possible 36.
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There will certainly be no rush by the club shop to get this game on DVD, but if Ipswich Town do somehow finish the season in the play-off places then this ugly victory may well be looked back upon as a crucial moment.
I say ‘somehow’ because the Blues really have no right to be just four points adrift of the play-off places with 17 games to go.
This is a club that was rock-bottom of the Championship table just 15 months ago. A club that is taking Financial Fair Play rules far more seriously than others. A club that had just 16 fit outfield first teamers available at the weekend following Manchester United’s recall of loanee Ryan Tunnicliffe the previous day.
And yet manager Mick McCarthy still manages to squeeze every last drop out of his low-budget outfit.
It’s rarely been easy on the eye, but then again it would be churlish to bemoan a lack of entertainment given this is the first sniff of a promotion push in five forgettable years.
“We’re not a silky football team, but we’re belligerent, stubborn and hard-working,” admitted McCarthy afterwards. It was the perfect summary.
Saturday’s match had nil-nil written all over it until Bolton keeper Andy Lonergan had a rush of blood to the head and hauled down David McGoldrick in the 55th minute.
The Blues striker dusted himself down and, having failed to score his previous two penalties, smashed the spot-kick down the middle.
It completely deflated a Bolton side short on confidence and they never threatened to add to Town’s tally of 25 points dropped from winning positions.
With Tunnicliffe having departed, Luke Hyam still sidelined and Cole Skuse having gone off on the half-hour mark with concussion, Town’s central midfield was made up of the semi-fit Anthony Wordsworth and makeshift duo Jay Tabb and Stephen Hunt (the latter two having played most of their football as left-wingers this season).
The fact that Tabb and Hunt were Town’s best two performers rather summed up the ‘just get on with it’ attitude that McCarthy has instilled in his squad. Other bosses would have whinged about a lack of transfer funds. Other fringe players would have sulked at sitting out the team and then getting played out of position.
The Trotters – still benefitting from Premier League parachute payments – are just four points above the drop zone.
Money isn’t everything. Indeed, star quality isn’t everything – especially in this much-of-a-muchness Championship. A close-knit group of positive personalities all keen to work their socks off for each other and the coaching staff can take you a very long way. It’s a perennially under-valued asset in this team game.
Sexy football it might not be, Ipswich Town fans have certainly got a team they can be proud of.
WHAT THEY SAID
Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager
“I think that epitomises us really. We’re not great, we’re not a silky football team, we’re a belligerent, stubborn, hard-working bunch with a really good team spirit.
“David McGoldrick epitomises what we’re about when he runs back 50 yards to tackle Chris Eagles when his job is supposedly to stick the ball in the back of the net.
“They work for each other and work for TC (assistant boss Terry Connor), me and the club. They’re great.”
Dougie Freedman, Bolton Wanderers manager
“It’s a very disappointing result. We felt in the first 45 minutes we were by far the better side – and it happens regularly to us. We competed very well and created two or three opportunities that you’d like to try and take.
“I have no complaints about the penalty. It’s a rush of blood to the head. Andy Lonergan has been fantastic for us and I won’t have a blame culture at the football club.
“These small moments are hurting us badly right now. It’s something we have to accept but not let our heads go down too much and not let the performance levels drop. We’re in a difficult moment right now and we have to stick together.”
22 Dean Gerken
Poor kicking, but crucial save 7
4 Luke Chambers (cpt)
Some great crosses 7
6 Christophe Berra
Another solid display 7
5 Tommy Smith
Not as dominant in air as usual 6
3 Aaron Cresswell
Few things didn’t come off 6
8 Cole Skuse
Solid until clash of heads forced off 6
18 Jay Tabb
Far better in central midfield 7
12 Stephen Hunt
Once again energy inspired others 7
35 Frank Nouble
Passing let him down 5
10 David McGoldrick
Another goal. Selfless display 7
9 Daryl Murphy
Improved in second half 6
1 Scott Loach (not used)
15 Tyrone Mings (not used)
24 Frazer Richardson (W’worth 78)
14 A Wordsworth 6 (Skuse 32)
11 Paul Anderson (not used)
7 Carlos Edwards (not used)
26 Paul Taylor (not used)
24 Andy Lonergan
Rush of blood to head for penalty 5
15 Alex Baptiste
Forced save from Gerken 6
12 Zat Knight
Did what he had to 6
4 Matt Mills
Good block on Nouble 6
5 Tim Ream
Didn’t get forward enough 5
6 Jay Spearing (cpt)
Gave ball away too often 5
44 Medo Kamara
Out-worked in the middle 5
16 Mark Davies
Messed up golden early chance 5
18 Neil Danns
Very little impact 5
21 Darren Pratley
Tried to make things happen 6
29 Lukas Jutkiewicz
Big striker handful on full debut 7
1 Adam Bogdan (not used)
14 Andre Moritz (not used)
33 Hayden White (not used)
17 Liam Trotter (Danns 77)
25 Joshua Vela (not used)
7 Chris Eagles 5 (Pratley 59)
27 Chung-Yong Lee (Medo 80)
Bookings: Berra (42)
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 3
Shots off target 10
Hit woodwork 0
BOLTON WANDERERS Stats
Sendings off: None
Shots on target 3
Shots off target 7
Hit woodwork 0
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH - JAY TABB
There was little to separate Town’s two makeshift central midfielders – Tabb and Stephen Hunt – as they outworked the opposition in the middle of the pitch. Tabb just shades the award though, producing his best display in a Town shirt for some time.
QUOTES ON KEY MOMENTS
Ipswich midfielder Stephen Hunt “We picked it up second half, showed a bit more enthusiasm and deserved the win in the end. “Mick gave us a talking too at half-time, not in an angry way but in a constructive way. “I was playing in a different position as we went three in midfield but I managed to get on the ball plenty enough. “We had a poor run, now we are unbeaten in three again so we are starting on another run. If we do then we will be right on the heels of the likes of Reading. “It is sometimes better to be just outside the top six as there is no pressure.”
McCarthy on subbing Anthony Wordsworth in the 78th minute, the midfielder having come off the bench himself in the 32nd minute: “He knew why he was coming off, it was because he’s not had that much football. A few weeks ago he had tonsillitis after the Preston game and didn’t train for a while after that. “I needed the energy and fitness and running power (at the end) and he’s not going to give me that at the minute because he’s not up to it. “I let Woody do (Darren) Pratley because that was Skusey’s job, then they changed it around and put Mark Davies in there. Well I wasn’t going to let Woody mark Mark Davies because he would have just run away from him, so I put Tabby on him. “Then they put (Liam) Trotter on, well I didn’t want Tabby marking Trotter – even though he went and beat him to the first header, to be fair! That’s why I switched it about a bit.”
Bolton striker Lukas Jutkiewicz: “We were going towards our game plan until the penalty. “I didn’t get a clear few of the penalty incident but I asked one of their players about it and he said it wasn’t a penalty, certainly not a stonewall one anyway. “Players are working hard Monday to Friday looking to get things right on the pitch on a Saturday in order to get us out of this situation. “We have to pick ourselves up but this is a really strong changing room and we have a real togetherness.”