Ghost Minutes at Portman Road
If there is truth in the assessment that tonight’s encounter between Ipswich Town and Leicester City at Portman Road only went ahead to sate the appetites of the television audience; then the way the home side rolled up their sleeves in such admirable fashion was striking.
Sven-Göran Eriksson’s contention that they don’t play football on Sweden in snow can be discounted as a subtle call for summer fixtures, as can his implication (by suggesting that Leicester like to build up patiently from the back) that Ipswich employed the big heave-ho. They didn’t: David Norris and Grant Leadbitter ran the midfield and Shane O’Connor was completely unbothered by the wintriness around him: his was a verve-fuelled display. The game flowed well and aside from a period toward the end of the first half, the pitch markings were unobscured.
So, Ipswich’s thoroughly deserved victory is not in question. Unfortunately though, the rather off kilter decision to withdraw the players for a 10 minute break raises question marks.
Sven complained of injuries to Curtis Davies and Miguel Vitor; victims of groin and hamstring problems respectively, but television images hinted at similar muscular trauma for Paul Gallagher and Chris Kirkland. These complaints are unlikely to have been caused by a pitch which played remarkably safely all night, but more the clamminess brought upon by the enforced break.
That the whole piece was halted less than a quarter of an hour after the extended half time flake clearance, with the lines still fully visible, was odd. The flurries were insistent at that point but the lines were more striking than half an hour before. Leicester will count the cost of a night where they failed to get out of the blocks and their comparatively unhistrionic acceptance of defeat does them credit (it’s hard to believe the case would be the same had the roles been reversed) but although it’s easy to moan about Stuart Attwell, what choice does the man give us?