|Mullet added 21:16 - Dec 29|
With the sun setting on Town before kick off, the decade ended at Lincoln not as a mismatched cup clash but under the auspices of league rivalries. And just as so much can go wrong in ten years of decisions, with the dying of the light came darkness on the faces and shoulders of those travelling fans who squinted their way through a first half lacking in direction.
Norris retained his spot in goal, Woolfenden partnered a returning Chambers. Donacien and Garbutt the full backs behind Edwards and Judge with the lightweight and fleetfooted Downes and Dozzell in the centre. Norwood and Jackson looked to rekindle Town’s most successful partnership in a season with so few of them.
It was Lincoln who would take the lead. Town showed that when they had time they had some technical initiative, but as Dozzell and Downes tried to weave their way through the middle, the runners beside and beyond on them could only contribute looks to any attempt to end the head tennis that has so marked recent games.
When Anderson received a hand-off of possession into his overlapping run just outside the box, it was a tamest of thunderb@stards which put us behind and Norris back to retrieval duties. Only once the net had stopped the drive did he get a hand to it. If it looked like Lincoln were yet another side playing a different game to Town, that’s because they were.
Ipswich were good so many weeks ago, they were a counter attacking side comparable bar none at this level. Of late, we just usher teams through as they run towards us and see what their luck looks like. The last time we saw victory in the league, we saw fireworks, a new year approaches quicker than Kayden Jackson with a head-start.
The striker was denied a clear penalty, and made it known how foul he felt his felling was. The referee either didn’t see it, or decided the keeper rushed out and touched Kayden’s ball and ankle simultaneously. Blues fans screamed murder, having seen a superior move end with Garbutt blazing high into our ranks minutes before there was a sense that parity was unlikely today.
Set pieces looked to be Town’s best route through a tangle of Imps. Nodding the better delivered corners left us holding our heads as Lincoln held on when their keeper couldn’t. Norris at the other end again showed he needed more than one opportunity to claim the ball. A cross and a free kick could both yield double stops or unconvincing takes from the on-loan stopper.
It was a game which flowed as best as the referee could allow. Both fans found reasons to appeal decisions as did their players, but when Dozzell again was felled trying to break lines and play a shapeless Town back into the game it left Garbutt with a decent spot from which to strike.
Bending it with his left-foot, he left the wall and the keeper and standing as the equaliser nestled into the goal. Deservedly so on the balance of play, previous spot kick denial but it was a finish we’d waited so long for from the Toffee.
Donacien had seen Edwards and Judge swap every five minutes ahead of him and Garbutt trying to find a route through. Of the two the Welshman’s discipline to find the line was more successful. However, fifteen minutes or more after Janoi supplied the best cross of the game thanks to Gwion’s return pass, the winger was deputising for the full back who had come into the team from the cold. Landing heavily, he seemed to feel his Achilles upon on impact and limped on until he could no more, collapsing into a heap several moves later. On came Sears again and now Town had three wingers and Alan Judge occupying their four wide roles.
Edwards showed that he was a converted winger with the regularity we have come to expect. Launching a tackle like an anti-aircraft missile through his man and into the book. He was lucky to only see the red of his adversary’s socks, or not as the case may have been.
Norris and his backline watched as the attacked ball went the wrong side of the post off a flying boot, but after yet another scramble across and away it wasn’t long before the lead was restored.
Walker once again ran through our central defence. Norris bided his time, then ran out, making contact with nothing in a position where handling the ball or hacking down his man was a certain dismissal. He did neither. Tyler the creator of an impressive second of the game and season against us, just lifted it over him and with it the sell out home support.
Finally, we saw from fight Town as in the closing seconds of the half some handbags were thrown between one or two of each team and the referee had seen enough. Whistles brought the half to an end with cheers, sighs and shrugs abound.
Ipswich took this feisty finish into the second half, picking up cautions for cynical tugs and shoves from Sears and Andre alike. Jackson pulled one back, by being pulled back. He was almost in the area and almost certainly in on goal. Yellow it was, free kick it was, wasted it was and sent into an orbit far, far away from the away fans.
There was some belief about us as Lambert’s men began to chase down the more suspect back passes and overconfidence of a fairly static backline. Sears dived on chance but forced out and with it so was the ball for a corner. Just as I lamented the pointlessness of a short corner without Will Keane on the field, Judge sent in one for Town to level. A flick from amongst the attacking heads saw a scrambled own goal and former Canary Toffolo the man with egg on his face.
You’d think Ipswich were a top side in this division from that moment on. Jackson was sent clean through only to be denied by the keeper and offside flag when again a suspicious challenge and need for a decision looked likely, had the linesman not intervened.
With our right side one lunge or one run away from a man being sent off, on came Wilson for Edwards and Woolfenden shifted to right back. It’s an unaccustomed role for young Luke, but the sight of him looking around at his colleagues and the man who was wheeling away in celebration became all too familiar.
First Walker stroked the ball home as the back post was fertile ground for him. Lincoln broke into a stride down the right and Chambers, Wilson and Norris all watched the ball go past them as well to allow our lead to slip away. We repeated the trick as Bostwick crashed home just minutes later. With the game set at 4-2 and the deficit doubled, change was needed.
Will Keane had already become our third and final substitute for Norwood in the inter-goal period. With his first touch he broke the defence, with his second he reduced the lead. A superb finish met with muted appreciation and even less belief. But he did more in two touches than the man he replaced has in weeks.
It was deep into injury time and fans’ patience when Ipswich mounted anything like an attempt to equalise. Crashing passes and headers counterpointed by jostling and finger pointing. Norris had had a terrible game again, encapsulated by a whole campaign with a referee who wanted him to take a goal kick after the Wolves player felt he had been fouled. His inability to take a quick throw in nearly saw us concede again, but his blushes were spared by a bizarre dressing down and eventual restart.
This was not to be the case as he watched Town get caught with a sucker-punch. An underperforming Chambers was under the cosh and two on one, behind him Norris could only watch him cut out and a fifth goal taken away to finish a game, and a decade for Town so continuously demoralising and divisive.
If anyone feels this league beneath us, then they may want to consider that it is right on top of us at the minute and crushing the life from the club. The meccano-chic away end haemorrhaged fans as the fourth and fifth went in. The life blood of the club seeping away in thicker torrents as the minutes dripped by.
After the ramblings at Portman Road which greeted a shuffling display, some may be forgiven poor Lambert is not that far from walking. For his own good and ours, rather than his career. However, with more changes, forced or not it is hard to see how a game so familiarly embarrassing and happening at new lows could unfold without so many key players not performing.
The Scot may have lost his former glory, the players, the goodwill he so painstakingly accrued, but as Town lose automatic promotion standing so easily and meekly, there is a pressing concern bearing down with the winless momentum of 2019. Sir Bobby asked “What is a club?” it’s about time we asked Marcus “what is our club?”.