Northstander: ‘The best atmosphere at Portman Road for some time’

Ipswich Town fans react after Trevoh Chalobah had levelled for Town. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town fans react after Trevoh Chalobah had levelled for Town. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

I drove 400 miles from Cornwall for Saturday’s game - and I was delighted I made the effort. The performance, and the atmosphere, perfectly summed up the excitement of the new era at Portman Road, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.

Gwion Edwards looks electrifying. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Gwion Edwards looks electrifying. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

If anyone was thinking that Mick McCarthy should still be our manager, then surely the spectacle against Villa will have well and truly changed their view. Chalk and cheese is a phrase which springs to mind.

McCarthy would have reacted to the very harsh red card by “parking the bus” and trying to grind out a point. It would have been utterly turgid - and we would have lost.

The spirit of enterprise which Paul Hurst has introduced meant a very different scenario. Even with ten men, against a good team, we carried on trying to win the game. I thought we were the better side throughout.

The fans responded to the passion and commitment of the players, becoming effectively the 11th man. It was the best atmosphere at Portman Road for quite some time, and a couple of thousand extra supporters seem to have found their way back to the ground!

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The red card was ridiculous - is football no longer a contact sport? - but, with the benefit of hindsight, I think the hapless ref actually did us a favour.

Losing a player galvanised the team, and the fans, and the sense of injustice drove the performance. I won’t call it a siege mentality, because that would imply a backs-to-the-wall, thou shall not pass display, and it was nothing like that.

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We played some really good stuff, pressed high, and ruffled Villa’s feathers. There’s something arrogant about Villa, as if they still don’t believe they belong in the lowly Championship. So it was very satisfying to more than match them.

Town fans react after Gwion Edwards had hit the crossbar. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Town fans react after Gwion Edwards had hit the crossbar. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Of course, the team is very much still work in progress. There are some fan favourites in the making, especially Gwion Edwards. Everything he does is positive. The run which ended with him hitting the bar early on was breathtaking. He also loves a tackle!

In Janoi Donacien, it looks like we have finally found a proper right-back – someone who plays in that position naturally, instead of a square peg in a round hole. You have to go all the way back to the appropriately named David Wright to find our last proper right-back.

MORE: Hurst calls players ‘warriors’

There are, inevitably, some concerns. My biggest worry is about goals. With our current set-up, we’re leaving our lone striker far too isolated. I know we played with only ten men for an hour on Saturday, but even before the red card, Ellis Harrison was fighting a lone, frustrating battle up top. That needs to be sorted if we’re going to present a real goal threat.

But the most encouraging thing of all is the feeling of togetherness, and belief, which has been restored. On Saturday, players and fans were as one. That is so different from the often poisonous atmosphere of last season – and it is quite a force.

Paul Hurst said he was proud to be the manager of Ipswich Town on Saturday. That sense of pride was obvious in the stands as well. Good times.

MORE: ‘I was amazed’ - Hurst on red card

There is a lot to like about Paul Hurst. One of the qualities I love is his brutal honesty.

After the Exeter debacle, it was obvious just how upset he was with the performance - and he certainly didn’t try to hide his feelings!

All too often, managers hide behind cliches and weasel words after a shocker, presumably in a misguided attempt to show loyalty to “the lads.”

Not so Mr. Hurst. He tells it as it is, and the fans love him for it. I hope he carries on doing it. If the players have underperformed, then why should they escape public criticism?

It has been suggested that such harsh words should be saved for the privacy of the changing room. Nonsense. Openness, and honesty, will build a great relationship with the most important people at the club - us, the loyal fans. Keep it up, Paul!

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