No.34  - Tues 23rd February 2016; Football League Championship;                             7.45pm at Portman Road; Ipswich; Cambs; IP1 2DA

 

Matchday images (12) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/IpswichTownFC03

Ipswich Town (0) 0 Hull City (0) 1

'Slogging out the points...'.

'Since suffering the fate of relegation at the end of last season the Tigers look to have finally blown away the cobwebs of disappointment, dusted themselves down and focused on regaining their Premier League status. They have also managed successfully to do some shrewd business in the last two transfer windows by adding the likes Sam Clucas (Chesterfield), Moses Adubajo (Brentford), Shaun Maloney (Chicago Fire), Adama Diomande (Stabaek) as well as loanees Isaac Hayden and Chuba Akpom (from Arsenal) and Nick Powell (Manchester United) to their ranks. After losing only a few players to Premier League clubs, the playing squad remains strong and under the watchful eye of Steve Bruce has shown a togetherness needed to mount a serious challenge for an automatic promotion place.

In football they say that statistics don't lie. Along with the likes of other Premier League hopefuls including Burnley, Middlesborough, Brighton and Derby the club's form of late has been excellent recording seven wins in their last eight games. Although they share a comparable goal difference Hull can boast one of the meanest defences in the Championship letting in only nineteen goals so far this campaign.

The Tigers come to Portman Road tonight as league leaders on the back two encouraging 0-0 draws: against Brighton in the league and against Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round at The Emirates. The hosts have been in or around the play offs for much of the season and currently sit in ninth place, most recently going down 2-1 at Bristol City ten days ago. So for both teams there's a lot at stake and a win will consolidate their respective positions at the right end of the Championship table.

After buying our tickets on line a couple of days ago Fran and I are both buzzing ahead of tonight's game. We manage to negotiate a busy A14 filled with tea time traffic and arrive at Portman Road a good hour ahead of the kick-off (and that is really early for us!). It's only a short walk from the car park which gives us time to relax and partake in a couple of cholesterol filled cheeseburgers with some chips purchased from a mobile catering van and pick up a special ITFC goody bag (you get a local newspaper, bar of chocolate, bottle of water and a packet of crisps - all for 1) before making our way to the turnstile. Our seats (in the home section) are level with the edge of the penalty area and being only a few rows back are pretty close to the action.

I always enjoy our visits to Portman Road. Over the years the overall look of the ground has greatly improved, with the re-development of both ends (Sir Alf Ramsey and the Sir Bobby Robson Stands), which are similar in appearance and size. Both sides which are much older and smaller now look quite tired and dated in comparison. Unusually the teams emerge onto the field from one corner of the ground between the Sir Alf Ramsey and Britannia Stands. Outside are two statues of two former Ipswich and England managers. One is of World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey and is located on the corner between the Cobbold and Sir Bobby Robson Stand, while Sir Bobby Robson's statue is placed behind the Cobbold stand in Portman Road.

The game itself was certainly not a classic. After a pretty even but dour first half things improved slightly after the break. It was Hull who took all three points when Robertson put Mo Diame through to lob keeper Bialkowski from close range after 53 minutes to score what was the only goal of the game. The match played in cold and breezy conditions attracted nearly 18000 spectators including almost 400 fans who had made the journey down from East Yorkshire. To our right a noisy band of home fans complete with drum spent most of the match repetitively chanting 'Mick McCarthy's Blue and White Army, ITFC' to add a bit of extra atmosphere. A newsy full colour programme (priced 3) packed with loads of interesting articles represented excellent value and proved a cracking read.

On our way back to the A14 we tuned into Radio 5 Live for a review of the evening's football league highlights and results which included a full programme of matches in the Championship. The sides at the top all won to consolidate their positions in the table: Show host Mark Chapman conducted a live interview on air with Steve Bruce who praised his side after their victory tonight. He also apologized after erroneously saying (when the draw was made twenty four hours ago on the BBC's One Show) that Arsenal would be playing Watford in the next round of the FA Cup at the Emirates, forgetting that the small matter of a replay was still needed before discovering who would host the Hornets!

Although it was a real buzz to see Hull sitting proudly at the top of the league I realised that there's still plenty of points to play for and no doubt many twists and turns to come before the end of the season. It's hard not to get carried away isn't it? As always it's lovely to get the chance as an exiled supporter to watch your home team play once again. The joys of Football League hopping continue...have fun wherever you go.     

 

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) N/A and (A) Diame (48)   

Attendance: 17630; Admission: 27.50; Programme: 3; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 4/5.

Links

http://www.itfc.co.uk/

http://www.football-league.co.uk/

 

edited on 24/02/16