Why Ipswich Town fans might have John Terry to thank if Jonny Williams inspires their side to a top six finish
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Ipswich Town last night extended the loan spell of Jonny Williams from Crystal Palace until the end of the season. STUART WATSON gives his thought on just how important keeping the ‘Welsh wizard’ could be.
When asked during yesterday’s live webchat whether Ipswich Town’s top six hopes rested on keeping Jonny Williams, 64 per cent voted ‘yes’.
It may have been overstating the case a little, but only a little.
A few weeks ago, the Blues’ play-off dreams were hanging by a thread.
Mick McCarthy’s spirited side had produced performances to be proud of but had continually come up just short against the leading sides in the Championship. No-one had expected a genuine promotion push in the season following a relegation battle though. ‘Progress’ was the buzz word as most mentally prepared themselves for a 13th successive season in the second tier.
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Then McCarthy made an inspired loan addition which caught everyone by surprise. Jonny Williams? Isn’t he that blond-haired lad who looked so good for Palace last season? Don’t their fans call him ‘Jon-iesta’?”
Quite often such hype leads to an anti-climax. Not on this occasion.
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Eased in with substitute appearances against Middlesbrough and Yeovil, the youngster was handed his first start in the 3-1 home defeat to Wigan. The result may have been disappointing, but the link-up play between Williams and lone striker Daryl Murphy certainly whet the appetite.
At Brighton the following weekend the Welsh wizard ran the show. The more the 28,000 home fans booed him for his Palace links, the better he played. It was his piece of trickery and cross leading up to Murphy’s clinching goal in the 2-0 win which will be remembered. What struck me more was just how brave the 5ft 6in youngster was off the ball, as well as on it.
Whenever Town lost possession he was tearing back and biting at opponents’ heels. Those present immediately knew they were witnessing something special. With talisman David McGoldrick injured for the season, Town again had a sprinkling of star dust in their hard-working and consistent side.
Then came the 2-1 home win over Derby in midweek. A good player he may be, but can he score goals? The answer, an emphatic yes – Williams arrowing in the equaliser from 30 yards to raise the roof at Portman Road.
With Palace boss Tony Pulis having watched from the stands that night, everyone assumed that he would be whisked back by his parent club following the home game against Nottingham Forest. Williams’ applause towards the Sir Bobby Robson Stand at the end of the 1-1 draw (a modest 8/10 display), coupled with McCarthy’s words, suggested it was goodbye. Just like with Giovanni Dos Santos in 2009, it had been a case of ‘enjoy him while we can’.
Then the news filtered through yesterday afternoon that Palace had agreed to extend the deal until the end of the campaign (with a 24-hour recall). Having seen his side beat Chelsea 1-0 at the weekend, manager Tony Pulis was willing to let his starlet stay in Suffolk and judge things on a game-by-game basis.
If Williams does end up being the catalyst for a fairytale finish then Town fans can thank a former England captain who has divided opinion over the years. Because without John Terry’s own goal at the weekend it could have been a very different story.