Ghost Minutes at Portman Road

Posted by on Dec 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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-Gà¶ran 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?

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Bill Turianski
    December 19, 2010

    I just saw highlights of the match on Sky…surreal.
    But why does a match that has already had over 50% of it played have to be abandoned and re-played. Why can't it stand ? In baseball here in the US, if a game that is threatened by rain goes past the halfway mark of the 5th inning (of the regular 9 innings), it stands as an official game. I know I might look stupid asking this, but what other reason other than tradition dictates that a football match, even if it, say, is abandoned in the 89th minute, must be scrapped, then later re-played entirely?

  2. Damon
    December 19, 2010

    I don't think the decision to withdraw the players raises question marks at all. It would be done for crowd violence and various other things, why not for adverse weather? It has happened many times in the past.

    The fact the game should not even have started is the major point but that was not really Atwell's choice, it was the evil Sky's. Rupert Murdoch may well have not only saved Roy Keane's job but also brought some much needed harmony to the Ipswich fans and club. Today seemed fun at Portman Road, for a change. And the ground-staff writing 3-0 in the snow in front of the Leicester fans is just the kind of gesture that can galvanise a whole club.

    Tonight was bad but good, in several ways.

  3. Lanterne Rouge
    December 19, 2010

    Point taken Damon – I just think the injuries are a pity – keeping warm in such conditions was always going to be tough and the stop start nature of the match showed a lack of understanding of players' wellbeing from Attwell – but yes, it was a terrific performance from Ipswich. Plenty of good players and as you said in your recent piece on The Seventy Two, Keane obviously isn't a bad manager even if he needs to calm down a tad.

    …and Bill, I think playing out a full fixture is probably regarded as sacrosanct here in England. What puzzles me is why, had the game been abandoned, that it couldn't be restarted from the 58th minute at 3-0. Plymouth benefitted from the failure to apply this last year by gaining a 0-0 draw with Barnsley having been well in arrears when the original fixture was called off for flooding.

  4. Damon
    December 19, 2010

    The injuries are a major shame but were they weather related? I don't think it's possible to know for sure one way or another. Cold tightens muscles, without question, so maybe one has to query Leicester's warm up routine given the same conditions didn't affect Ipswich players. I'd also figure both sets of players have been training in as cold conditions all week. Anyway, Leicester didn't play at all badly at times and also didn't struggle with the conditions any more than Ipswich, which I thought testament to both sides.

  5. Lanterne Rouge
    December 19, 2010

    Yes – it was a really good flowing game and contrary to Sven's comments, actually a good advertisement for football (apologies for lapsing into cliche). As a neutral, I was riveted.

  6. extremegroundhopping
    December 20, 2010

    The playing conditions looked far worse when viewed on TV (I’ve just watched the highlights on BBC IPlayer) than the reality (I was sat in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, the end in which all the goals were scored). Sven may have complained about the conditions, but oddly, after they returned from the 14-minute second half hiatus, Leicester actually played the ball around very well. On the floor. The Foxes just weren’t up for it and for once (in a long run of games) Ipswich were. What of the future of Keane? Well he's had eighteen months in charge, brought in 20 new players, his own backroom staff, but rather than arresting our slow decline (under Jim Magilton) he seems to have accelerated it. I'd like to think that Saturday nights win signals a new dawn but somehow doubt it.

  7. Lloyd
    December 21, 2010

    Appreciate Damon's comment on the 3-0 in the snow thing, but personally I just can't see things working out for Keane at Ipswich.

    He still doesn't know his first XI, and I think he's one of those managers who will be forever chopping and changing, and won't be able to settle on a fixed side. For that reason alone (and maybe his decision to bring Rory Fallon in on loan), I think that Town's form will always be up and down.


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