There was hardly cause for celebration on the 21st anniversary of the return to The Valley when Charlton went down 0-1 to Ipswich Town through a goal scored from a corner in the fourth minute of the game. Although Charlton's performance improved in the second half of the game, they never really looked like scoring an equaliser, let alone a winner. Admittedly, there was a late incident when Cameron Stewart was bearing down on goal and the referee did not play the advantage but called for a free kick near the halfway line, but whether Stewart would have scored is an open question, although it would have been nice to have the chance.
A QPR fan who was giving it large to me during the week said that we were a hard working team, but lacked a cutting edge and you can see his point. It also has to be said that we lacked ideas compared to Ipswich who played a fluent, passing game. Moreover, they were hard to break down at the back.
I always feel uneasy when the teams change ends at the beginning of the match. Ipswich stepped up the pressure from the beginning of the match and won a succession of corners. Indeed, Mick McCarthy said later that we brought the pressure on ourselves by playing back to Morrison from the kick off who was the unable to clear. Alnwick made two excellent stops, but was unable to stop them from scoring through Smith.
We kept up the pressure after a Charlton corner and a shot went in that was just wide. A later Charlton corner was unproductive. The keeper spilled a Charlton corner. Lawrie Wilson, who was not having a good game, did put in a good block. The Ipswich fans were singing 'The greatest team the world has ever seen' which is fine if you are Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but not otherwise.
After the break Charlton did try to get in the game more. Following a Charlton corner, the ball was saved on the line. Stephens had a go, but to no effect. On 67 minutes we made our double substitution. Stewart tested the Ipswich keeper. Tabb got a yellow card for a foul on Kermorgant. As normal time came to an end, Kermorgant put in a good ball to Morrison, but he put it wide. The four minutes add on saw a scuffle by the Ipswich goal which saw Morrison and big lump Nouble get yellow cards.
Ivy the Terrible has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Ben Alnwick. Before the goal went in, which came through a crowded area, he made two super saves and also made some other good saves during the game. Looks like Hamer may have some competition. Morrison was solid, even if his headers are often directionless. Dervitte was lively and involved, although some of his clearances went straight to the opposition. Wiggins made some good runs down the left and even managed to hit the post with a cross, but was unable to break down the massed ranks of Tractors. Wilson had a bit of a mare. Although he did put in one or two good crosses, most of them were well below his usual standard and he ballooned a shot over. He was eventually substituted. Stephens put in a spectacular bicycle kick pass to Wiggins, but generally did not shine. Cousins persevered, usually with safe balls, but nothing wrong with that. Stewart attracted the derision of the row behind me. He is not perfect, but he came close to being decisive. One of the benefits of Green coming on was that he was freed up to play on the left. Jackson had a generally poor game and was eventually substituted. Church was energetic, but often put himself in an offside position, although one time when he was in a potential scoring position, the decision against him was marginal. Kermorgant tried to get involved. One question is whether his presence encourages us to play long balls. However, I did think that he was more or less back to fitness. Green made no great difference when he came on, which was no surprise to me. Pigott tried his best, but was unable to make the breakthrough. Sordell made no perceptible difference when he came on.
Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to Ipswich charm merchant Jay Tabb for his dirty play.