That was a game that you felt we had to win if we are serious about the top 6. As it transpired we only got a point. It is not enough at this stage especially considering the opposition who were dire. The game was awful throughout. First half was quite even but not many chances at all. They had a few and we had a few. Second half it was all us really and we stepped up. We never looked like losing at all but sadly could not do enough in the final third and other than a chance for Sharp where he got crowded out after lobbing the keeper and then for Lundstram that he squared to Evans instead of shooting; we only had one really good effort on goal all game; a Wilson shot that hit the post. We got into the final third time and time again but wasted it time and time again. We simply looked clueless when we got there and either overplayed, passed it straight to them or dithered. It was annoying as to paraphrase Wilder from tee to green we were fine to good and especially second half completely controlled the game with and without the ball. It is an odd one as on the surface a point at Ipswich is not the worst result but when you saw how the game went and how poor they were; it is a game we had to win really.
Ipswich looked a sorry team that just tossed the ball back to us when they had it. Sadly, for all our domination, Blackman had more saves than their keeper all game – not sure their lad had more than a few routine ones to make whereas Blackman had to push two away – you would expect him to save them. In general play they were abysmal but sadly if you do not do enough and create enough; then you do not deserve to win. We could still be playing midnight tonight and I do not think we would score. We put Brooks on and Donaldson but they did not really make much of an impact. Wilson hit the post but did not do much else right either. We do lack quality options at that end of the pitch when you look at other teams nearer the top. The rest of the team were workmanlike and were good at getting it back. No one was terrible and Fleck was superb; the best player on the pitch but we just did not quite have enough quality or even bravery to get more men forward and ensure we got the goal we needed.
The game started with Evans and Lundstram in for Donaldson and the injured Duffy and we began really well on an awful pitch with the ball bobbling around all over the place. We were on top first 5-10 minutes and Evans played in Baldock for a shot that was saved fairly comfortably. Evans then won a foul for a push but Lundstram’s effort was saved again quite easily despite him beating the wall. Ipswich came back into it as Stearman had an awful spell turning into trouble and then bringing down his man and getting booked as he broke away. He then made another error soon after. Ipswich had a header at the far post that was saved by Blackman as Stevens and O’Connell were sleeping. It became quite even after this. Fleck had a shot saved quite easily and then Fleck did well again and played Evans in but he was blocked at the near post. Ipswich then had a mini spell of play but did not create much before Fleck again played a lovely ball and Sharp got to it before the keeper and knocked it over the keeper as it bounced awkwardly but a few defenders got back and one did enough to hold him off; Sharp appealed for a penalty but it looked like Sharp went down quite theatrically and it was right not to give off. Fleck continued too control things and created another half chance for Sharp that saw him penalised for handball. Ipswich finished half with a corner that Blackman tipped away and then they had their best effort, a curling shot from Celina not far wide.
After the break, United seemed to play 5 yards higher up the field in every area and began to dominate. We had all of the ball and Evans and Lundstram were more involved – the latter got through and after a lucky bounce was in one on one but oddly squared across to Evans and it was a bit behind him and under pressure he fell. This looked a better appeal for a penalty than Sharp’s but not sure this was a good enough award either and the ball was cleared. Lundstram has to go for goal there. We were in control now and Stevens and Baldock were pushing on. Stevens had a cross fizzed across the box and then Baldock had a great run and chipped cross that saw us have a shot blocked at the far post. We had all the ball and Ipswich were just tossing the ball away. The home crowd were now really restless. They made changes but it did not change the flow of the game. It was all United but sadly we could not really create any clear chances despite having all of the ball and pressing them back. They had most of their team behind the ball which was odd for a home team. Wilson came on for the tiring Evans but he looked half asleep as he lost it twice in close succession. However, he then had a great shot that bounced off the post and Sharp hit the rebound over from a half volley – it was a tricky chance for the rebound but he had more time really. The Wilson effort was very unlucky. Ipswich were not looking like doing anything and it was either going to be a draw or a 1-0 United win but the final balls continued to be wasteful. Brooks came on but the pitch did not suit him and bobbled off him a few times. We had so many chances to get a good final ball in but Stevens overplayed and then Fleck. Brooks had one good run but he squared to no one. Donaldson came on as we tried to get the win but could not get a really good chance in after the Wilson shot. Ipswich barely had an attack of significance and they would have been delighted with a point – which they got when the final whistle came.
Ipswich – We have beaten them twice. It should have been three. They looked dire. How they are mid table I am not sure? They did not really look like scoring, created little, were poor on the ball and they just lumped it most of the second half. They put on Garner and tried to unsettle us with the more direct stuff but they never really threatened despite a few corners. As much as we can be critical of United; we are only a few places above them but look a much better team with better players. Sadly, if we do not score or are more clinical in the final third; then it matters little. Their fans seemed thoroughly fed up and you could see why as the team looked even more clueless than us. They looked like we did in the final third; for the whole pitch. They will do well to remain in the top half and I do not see many stand out players either. They have an odd mix of young and quite old but like us need a lot of investment to be anywhere near promotion but we have more assets in the likes of O’Connell, Fleck, Duffy, Brooks etc than they do.
It was a game that as it went on you sensed Ipswich were there for the taking. They looked a side devoid of confidence, the crowd were on the back and if we had scored even just one, that would have been enough.