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North Stander: How low can we go? Better side won, you can’t blame the ref for that!

09 November, 2020 - 06:00
Town players down after the final whistle.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.com

Town players down after the final whistle. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

North Stander TERRY HUNT takes a look at another depressing FA Cup effort from the Blues after their defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday.

Brett McGavin takes a freekick.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comBrett McGavin takes a freekick. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Well, that’s another new low.

For the first time in 65 years, Ipswich are out of the FA Cup after the first round.

While we are left to concentrate on the league - and the ludicrous EFL Trophy, now sponsored by a pizza firm - mighty teams like Canvey Island, Marine, and Kings Lynn live to fight another day in the FA Cup.

The last time we were knocked out in the first round was way back in November 1955, when we lost to Peterborough.

That’s way before most Town fans can remember - even, ahem, more mature supporters like me!

Sean Raggett (right) scores a controversial winner for Portsmouth.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comSean Raggett (right) scores a controversial winner for Portsmouth. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Does it matter? Probably not, in the grand scheme of things. Promotion is all that matters this season. But it’s still mighty annoying that our appalling recent FA Cup record continues.

When we saw Paul Lambert’s line-up it was pretty clear where the Cup lies in his list of priorities. Fielding a reserve team tells you all you need to know.

What we got was a decent game, full of talking points, and the increasingly predictable absolutely awful performance from the referee. I know, I know - as everyone says, if we want better officials, then we need to get out of this awful division.

MORE: ‘There must be a voodoo doll’, says Lambert

Town manager Paul Lambert speaks with referee Andy Haines after the final whistle, following his side exit against Portsmouth in the FA Cup due to a controversial late goal.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comTown manager Paul Lambert speaks with referee Andy Haines after the final whistle, following his side exit against Portsmouth in the FA Cup due to a controversial late goal. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

But, honestly, the referee’s decisions against Pompey were absolutely ridiculous.

How could he and the linesman miss that nailed on penalty when Oli Hawkins was dragged down?

As for the winning goal...the guy was standing on the line! To be fair to the ref, he did talk to his linesman, who told him to award the goal. Totally perplexing.

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We are getting the rough end of some very poor decisions at the moment, after the red card and penalty award at Sunderland.

Let’s hope the old footballing cliché about luck evening itself out over time really does come true.

But we can’t keep blaming the officials.

The harsh truth is that you don’t get results if you only perform for parts of games. Once again, we got off to a dreadfully slow start against Pompey. They were two up before we got going.

We then had a decent spell in the second half, before completely disappearing again in extra time. Overall, the visitors were the better team. That’s not the ref’s fault.

Ipswich keeper David Cornell is beaten early on as Portsmouth tale the lead from a Ronan Curtis (not pictured) free kick.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comIpswich keeper David Cornell is beaten early on as Portsmouth tale the lead from a Ronan Curtis (not pictured) free kick. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

There were some encouraging things to emerge from the game. The biggest plus point for me was the performance of Brett McGavin. He looked really composed in the sitting midfield role, reminding me of Owen Garvan, who I rated highly.

He also delivered some quality free kicks and corners, something we’ve sadly lacked in recent years. For me, McGavin looks like he has a decent future in the game. He can certainly fill in successfully during Dozzell’s absence, and has a chance of making that position his own.

MORE: Stu Watson’s 5 observations from the Pompey defeat

The other big positive was the surprise appearance from the bench of James Norwood.

He made such a difference, giving us much-needed aggression, and making a right nuisance of himself for the Pompey defenders.

I’ve thought for a long time that we’re too “nice,” and don’t get into the opposition’s faces nearly enough. Norwood certainly does that. He must be a nightmare to play against. Nice finish for his goal, too.

It’s been great to see lots of goals coming from midfield, but we do need a 20-goal a season striker in the team. Perhaps Norwood can be that player. Rediscovering his scoring form his Tranmere days would be good!

So, apart from tomorrow’s trip to Crawley in the EFL (sorry, Papa John’s) Trophy, when the kids will play, the squad now has a two-week break to recharge batteries after a pretty gruelling few weeks.

As I said, it was great to see Norwood back from injury, and let’s hope the rest of our walking wounded return in the coming weeks, ready for the hard winter slog.

We have missed the combativeness of Flynn Downes, the exciting talent of Kane Vincent-Young, and the cool head and experience of Cole Skuse. They will be very welcome reinforcements.


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