That gripe aside, Portman Road is a pretty good place to watch a game, modern stands at either end, more venerable edifices at the sides, steep and tight to the pitch helping to generate an intense atmosphere, although this was mainly demonstrated by the healthy away contingent as the home side struggled to make much impression as an attacking force for most of this game.
Daniels and Ward were returned in place of for Harte and Elphick. Howe resisted any temptation to drop Cook after his uncharacteristically fragile display against Wednesday, which was to prove an inspired piece of judgement.
Ipswich are built very much in the mould of their manager, Mick McCarthy, all organisation and good honest endeavour, but not a side likely to dazzle you with flair or suddenly produce something out of the ordinary. Bournemouth dominated possession but it was not translated into serious attempts on goal, apart from one move started and almost finished by Kermorgant with a header just over from a cross by Pugh.
Annoyingly, Ipswich scored the first time they got near to our goal. Skuse broke down the right, nobody cut out his low cross at the near post, and Anderson got beyond Francis at the back post and put the ball into the roof of the net. It almost got worse with Ipswich’s next attack as Cresswell’s free kick was brilliantly finger tipped on to the post by the flying Camp.
That alarm aside, the pattern of play remained much as it had been before the goal. Grabban missed a good chance to equalise, shooting wide when clean through on goal – if he ever improves his finishing he’ll be a 30 plus goals a season striker, but probably not with us. Just before half time justice was done in spectacular style as Ipswich failed to clear a free kick and Cook crashed in an overhead kick that was hit with more power than most players can get into a conventional shot.
Bournemouth started the second half in the same positive style, but once again found themselves behind against the run of play as Cresswell’s free-kick from the left delivered flat and with pace was headed in from six yards by Green. Bournemouth continued to press and Pugh, normally one of the more reliable in front of goal, skied a golden opportunity to equalise over the bar from six yards.
Howe made an effective tactical switch, bringing on Rantie and Smith for Pugh and Daniels in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Kermorgant acting as a (very effective) advanced midfielder/withdrawn striker behind the front two of Rantie and Grabban. McCarthy tried to adjust his formation accordingly, but control of midfield was ours for the remainder of the game with Surman, O’Kane and Ritchie running the game and the Ipswich defence coming under increasing pressure. Saves were made, shots blocked and penalty appeals waved away. Eventually we got the luck our efforts deserved when a deflected free kick from Ritchie brought an equaliser with ten minutes to go.
Ipswich almost reprised their second goal with a header from a free kick that glanced alarmingly close to the post, but the flow of play was almost all the other way. With a draw of little use to either team, both sides gave their all until the final whistle with Bournemouth looking the more likely to find the breakthrough but being met by some determined backs to the wall defending from the home team. Kermorgant brought a good save from Gerken with a powerfully struck volley from 20 yards and was narrowly wide with the last attempt of the game as referee D’Urso interestingly opted to whistle for full time before waiting to see where the Breton’s header finished. At the end exhausted players from both sides collapsed to the ground - another really good game to add to the long list from this remarkable season.
Yann Kermorgant hardly had a bad touch of the ball in the entire game. Best target man we’ve had since Trevor Aylott, and scores goals too.
AFCB: Camp, Francis, Cook, Ward, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, O'Kane, Pugh, Grabban, Kermorgant
Subs: Allsop, Elphick, Harte, MacDonald, Fraser, Smith (for Daniels, 66 mins), Rantie (for Pugh, 66 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton