It seemed odd to be still in the pub at 4 o’clock, although there’s a few games in recent years I wished I had been.
The team news was mixed: Kenwyne Jones, the new loan signing from Cardiff was on the bench but there was no sign of Mark Pugh, replaced in the starting line-up by Ryan Fraser. Eddie continued his job share policy between Brett Pitman and Yann Kermorgant and it was Pitman’s turn to start today.
From the start it was clear that Ipswich were well “up” for the game and they started at a high tempo giving Cherries very little time to settle into their stride. This paid off after just six minutes when they went ahead after some very poor defending. Following a deep cross from the left, 3 defenders stood aside to give Daryl Murphy acres of space to put the ball in to the unmarked Freddie Sears who side footed home from the edge of the 6-yard box. It must have been one of the easiest goals the Tractor Boys have scored all season.
After this early shock Bournemouth began to settle and show some signs of the quick passing game that we have got used to this season. Drew Surman made a good run across the box but left himself too much to do from a narrow angle and shot across the goal.
Pitman just failed to get on the end of a Charlie Daniels cross and in the follow up a stretching Harry Arter put the ball just over the bar. Callum Wilson was making a nuisance of himself but the Ipswich defence seemed to have him pretty much under control and he was certainly getting very little joy from referee Madley. I fear Callum is getting himself a reputation amongst referees for ‘going down easily’ which means he doesn’t get the decision even when he is genuinely fouled.
Brett was having one of his quieter games although he had what looked like a good chance when he was inadvertently put in by a defender but snatched at his shot. After a trademark marauding run down the right by Simon Francis, Fraser found himself in a good position. Although Artur Boruc’s Polish rival Bialkowski made a good save Ryan should really have put it away. The Wee Man was disappointing on a number of occasions when moves broke down due to him losing the ball and we were certainly missing Pugh.
The home ‘keeper was tested again before half-time when a swerving shot by Matt Ritchie from outside the area was punched away with Fraser failing to capitalise on the rebound. H-T 1-0 but we’d certainly had the better of the first period and I was confident that we could get back into the game.
That confidence started to wane as the second half proceeded and we seemed to get dragged down to Ipswich’s level, playing more long balls and less of the intricate passing game. The chances weren’t coming so frequently after the break but Bialkowski came to the rescue twice more from Daniels and Arter. It seems that opposition goalkeepers seem to save their best performances for when they play against us this season.
With the frustration continuing Eddie decided to replace Pitman with Kermorgant . Wilson had what appeared to be a legitimate claim for a penalty when held back by Smith but once more the referee was unmoved.
Time for the cavalry and Smith & Jones replaced Cook and Fraser to try to turn the game around.
Boruc was called upon to make his first real save with 10 minutes to go, pushing a shot from Varney around the post.
‘We never score from corners’ is a refrain that I have been boring the people around me with all season – but then we never had Kenwyne Jones to get on the end of them before. With eight minutes to go the big Trinidadian shrugged off two defenders trying to tear his shirt off and met Matt Ritchie’s cross perfectly to cue hysteria amongst the visiting fans. Kenwyne then treated us to his back-flip celebration – let’s hope there’s a few more of them to come before the season’s out.
Although delighted with a point in the circumstances, it could have been 3 when Kermorgant made a great leap from another Ritchie cross only for Ipswich’s big Pole to make another fine save. Harry Arter’s attempted overhead from the rebound was cleared off the line.
A deserved but hard-fought draw which keeps Ipswich six points behind us in the table.
As an aside for Dad’s Army fans we now have Wilson, Fraser and Jones in the squad (as well as Dan Hodges on the coaching staff). Don’t be surprised if we sign Matty Mainwaring from Hyde or Ben Godfrey from York City.
Man of the Match: Has to be instant hero Kenwyne Jones for his game-changing cameo. It’s a great option to have.
AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Cook (Jones, 78), Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Fraser (Smith, 78), Wilson, Pitman (Kermorgant, 65).
Unused subs: Gosling, MacDonald, Ward, Camp (g/k).
Clive Loader, Basingstoke