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95/96: Reports:

Endsleigh League Division 1, 16/9/95
Ipswich Town 4(2)
Watford 2(1)
Team: Miller 3, Lavin 3, Johnson 2, Foster 2, Holdsworth 3, Ramage 3, Bazeley 3, Payne 3, Mooney 3, Porter 3, *Phillips 4*
Subs: Moralee, Cherry, Pitcher (for Johnson) 4
Scorers: Phillips, Pitcher
The kind of quality to aim for
Report by Ian Grant

The bloke moaning that Roeder should get his chequebook out and buy a striker was, of course, missing the point. Change the bloody record, mate. Conceding four goals is rarely the best way to go about winning matches - besides, there can be few complaints about the number of chances we created in this game.

By First Division standards, this was a fabulous game. Two sides committed to playing passing football, constant goalmouth action at both ends - somehow defeat is so much more palatable when it's like this. We went down fighting and that's more than can be said about Charlton. Ironically, bearing in mind the margin of defeat, we also played some of the best football of the season so far.

Strange old place, Ipswich. Lovely big ground, albeit only half-full, with the most fantastically huge toilets imaginable and yet they can't manage to make a decent cup of tea. How difficult is it? The tea I had was without doubt the worst I've ever had to drink in my entire life - even including the cup I once bought a Vicarage Road which was actually COLD. Ipswich also have the misfortune of playing in what appears to be a tie-dyed kit - revolting - and, curiously, have a virtually identical away kit to our monstrosity (the green and purple are swapped, otherwise it's exactly the same).

It didn't take long for Ipswich to open up our defence as Gerard Lavin was caught out of position and Gregory poked the driven cross past Miller. Four minutes gone, not good. We showed considerable spirit to overcome the shock and get back into the game. A spell of pressure resulted in Foster heading a deep cross back for Phillips to score with a low shot. Nine minutes gone, much better.

If anything, we slightly shaded the first half, having recovered from the early setback. Certainly we had chances to take the lead and things might have turned out very different had Ramage's header not been cleared off the line and had Payne's shot not been deflected wide. We attacked with some intelligence, using Phillips' right wing forays to fine effect, and had a shaky Ipswich defence in trouble on several occasions. At the other end, Marshall found too much space for my liking and the exhilerating pace of Uhlenbeek had Gary Porter in all sorts of problems. But their goal attempts were restricted to shots from outside the area, none of which caused much danger.

But we undid all the good work just before half-time. I don't think any of the Watford players will want to see this goal again, but I rather suspect Glenn Roeder might be forcing them to sit through it. A catalogue of errors, from Johnson's quick free kick that took Payne by surprise to Foster's awful scuffed clearance, led to Gregory's second goal.

We began the second half brightly enough, forcing corners and building pressure, but were caught out again as Thomsen's header from a free kick curled pas Miller. And yet, even two goals behind, I didn't feel that we were out of the game. I was proved right - as the game opened up, we continued to find ways past the Ipswich defence. Bazeley came closest, flicking the ball past Forrest only to see the keeper save with his feet - we always looked capable of getting a goal back and Geoff Pitcher got it, slotting the ball home from the edge of the box with eight minutes left.

A rousing finale was on the cards but the optimism only lasted a couple of minutes - Foster and Porter contrived to let the ball through to Uhlenbeek who crashed the ball into the roof of the net. People were on the pitch, it was all over. The Ipswich supporters, who'd been asleep and outsung by the travelling 'Orns, found their voices and celebrated the win. They could have scored more in the dying minutes but that would have been rather harsh.

So then, the post-mortem. If anything, there are more lessons to learn from this defeat than from the disaster at Charlton. We've played two ex-Premiership sides in a week and it's obvious which one we should be looking to emulate. For a while, Ipswich were the dourest team in the top flight but, under George Burley, they're rethinking and rebuilding - on Saturday, their passing was crisp and incisive, their finishing was devastating. That's the kind of football we have to play if we're going to succeed. Too often lack of movement leads to pointless passing between Watford players, whereas Ipswich appeared to have options available at all times.

They tore us to shreds with top quality attacking play and there's no disgrace in that. If they can sort out their defence, Ipswich are a Premiership side in waiting. We were all at sea when they came forward but we played our part in an excellent game. Had Payne or Bazeley had a little more luck with their shots, we might even have taken something from this match. At least now we know the kind of quality to aim for.

How did we lose?
Report by Kate Holmes

After the battling performance against Crystal Palace, and three clean sheets in a row, it was always going to be tough against a side that have won all their home matches. We were still without Nigel Gibbs and Andy Hessenthaler - Gibbsy is out for three weeks, Hessy could be back against Bournemouth.

We did our usual slow start, and Ipswich piled forward in numbers. On a wet and slippery surface our players were struggling to keep their feet. It was no surprise when they took the lead, but it seemed to spur us into action. We started to attack them with great purpose and managed to equalise with Super Kevin Phillips scoring. I won't give any details as I couldn't quite see that far. The Watford fans were in great voice and the noise was constant. In contrast the Ipswich fans were silent, even the woman with the pom-pom. The rest of the first half was taken up with us camped in their half, and the fans singing.

We were so much on top of them, and completely outplayed them - more than we did with Stoke. It was a lot like the match at Tranmere last season. The one thing we did do was start to pick up bookings. The linesman opposite us was pretty awful, didn't notice one offside decision - not that there were many as they didn't get into our half too often. Just before half-time we picked up a free kick right on the half-way line, which their number 6 should have been booked for. We took the kick too quickly, lost possession and they scored with what was their first attempt on goal since they scored. Talk about totally undeserved.

The second half continued in much the same vein, with us camped in their penalty area. You would not believe how many deflections there were against us, as we just could not get that ball into the net. Once again, they managed to get out of their half and scored to make it 3-1. I could not believe it, as that was about their third goal attempt. This is where you can tell that they were in the Premier last season, as their finishing was far better than ours. Still the Ipswich fans were silent.

After that sucker punch, we lost our way for fifteen minutes. We brought on Geoff Pitcher for Richard Johnson, who was one of several players who had been booked. We began to attack them again, and Pitcher scored an excellent goal from about 20 yards out to put us back in the game again. We piled forward looking for an equaliser, but once again got caught out on the counter attack and they scored again. It was absolutely amazing - I cannot remember seeing a match so dominated by a side that loses 4-2.

The referee and linesman opposite us did their best to make it difficult for us. Westy got booked for Ramage being kicked on the ground, Johnno and Lav were also booked. Their number 6 got away with murder, their number 3 brought down Super Kev when clean through which didn't even result in a free kick. Their number 7 used his hand to keep the ball in play, once again no free kick, but it was the linesman's decisions that really got on my nerves. Having not given an offside decision in the first half, he kept flagging our boys offside. I began to think that maybe it was me begin caught offside.

I still cannot believe how the hell we lost this match, and the scoreline sounds like a thrashing. It wasn't. 4-2 to Watford would have flattered Ipswich. Listening to their local radio on the way home, I think I watched a completely different match. It is easy to blame defensive errors for the goals, but they made far more than we did. The difference was that we were punished for every mistake we made.

It isn't time to panic yet, if we play like this every week we won't get beaten too often. Still, it could have been worse - we could have been at the front of the stand and got soaked as well. And Scum lost as well, so they are second bottom. You have to laugh.