Ipswich have hit a bit of a sticky patch and having just had a look at the league table I was surprised to see that we were above them. With our impressive away form, which I’d half-forgotten about, and Ipswich’s poor home form, I think we’ll get a result tonight. I had very mixed feelings about the Shrewsbury match and I’m in good company in wondering why we never play well for a whole game. Of course we got the three points and an ugly win is often what we’ll have to do to get out of this league. Unsurprisingly both Grigg and Graham are in the transfer shop-window and apparently several clubs are ‘in the race’ to buy Will. No doubt he’ll turn up before long and score against us but he was never going to do anything in our team. I haven’t heard any team news yet but I’m hoping O’Nien will come on for a bit longer than he did against Shrewsbury as he typifies the battling spirit that we all love to see. As usual I’ll be watching the match with my Sunderland bubble while slurping a Guinness or two and the Newcastle match will be almost over by the time we kick off. I really hope we’ll be playing them next season and they seem to be going the right way to fulfil their side of the bargain. A win tonight could well put us in a play-off spot and my match prediction is a 2-1 win for us.
I got the team news around 7.15 and I looked like the only change was Winchester starting in place of Diamond. I thought Winchester showed some nice touches on Saturday and I was also pleased to see Gooch on the bench. We had a few problems with the computer link so we missed the first couple of minutes and the first bit of drama was when Ipswich’s Jackson was red-carded for a very dirty, shin-raking tackle on Wright in the tenth minute. This was a great boost for us but it was Ipswich who were doing all the pressing and our passing was as bad as it’s often been. It was also pissing down and that was a recipe for mistakes. We continued to look slow to build especially when we passed sideways and backwards as we love to do. With ten minutes to the break we still hadn’t really threatened Holy in goal and the effing and blinding in the room was reaching a crescendo. From a free-kick Wyke blasted in a goalbound shot but Holy got a hand to it and cleared it. Winchester got his second yellow in three appearances and also gave away a free-kick in a dodgy position. My bubble-mate was less than enchanted with Winchester’s performance and suggested that not only Diamond but Neil Diamond could do a better job. The commentator rightly said that Ipswich had effectively nullified us but it hadn’t taken much doing. Then suddenly in stoppage-time it was all smiles when we took the lead with Wyke being in the perfect position to flick in Power’s cross from a move which started with a back-heel of all things from Winchester. O’Brien played a good part in the build-up too.
When we kicked off again, Embleton was on for Winchester and that seemed a good move as the latter was a fair bet for another yellow as he was smirking and gobbing while he received his first card – nice back-heel, though. We started off very positively winning three corners and having a good goal-attempt from Willis saved by Holy. I don’t know why we take so many short corners as they’re often wasted. After that great start by us Ipswich began to get much the better of it themselves and this culminated in a great save by Burge which kept us ahead. Next thing O’Brien had a great chance to put us further ahead but his low shot was blocked by McGuinness. Wright went down injured and it looked bad as the golf-buggy came on. Bailey sat on the back and was trundled off – it’s probably just as well no home fans were present to comment on this – and was promptly replaced by Sanderson. Time was moving fast and soon there were just twenty minutes to go so I wondered if we’d make another change soon. I always like to see Maguire on. Gooch came on for McGeady with around twelve minutes to go and made an immediate impact racing to retrieve a long ball down the left, cutting in and putting a shot on target. I was pleased to see O’Nien coming on again three minutes from time but there was bound to be a lot of stoppage-time. O’Brien was the man to go off and I have to say he looks like a Plantagenet king with that beard. Moving on quickly, there were six added minutes but we kept possession well with some close accurate passing near the end and we held on for a great 1-0 win.
Again, not a great performance but a fine result and we’ve consolidated our position. Net result – happiness.