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LFW Awaydays - Ipswich, Portman Road
LFW Awaydays - Ipswich, Portman Road
Wednesday, 6th Jan 2010 21:22

On the pitch QPR were soundly beaten, before the game the problem of finding a suitable pre-match boozer in Ipswich continued for the LFW travelling party of two.

1 – The Match
Not quite as one sided as the scoreline suggests for the first hour or so, but probably more comprehensive than it does after that. QPR gave Ipswich an early goal by conceding possession sloppily on the attack, allowing Jon Walters to run too far into the penalty box and then deflecting the ball into their own ne but after that missed two gilt edge chances of their own as Adel Taarabt failed to find the target twice when left unchallenged in the six yard box. Jay Simpson fired and early chance wide at the start of the second half but the game was up past the hour when Jon Stead turned Kaspars Gorkss on the edge of the penalty box and fired into the bottom corner. Thereafter it was embarrassingly one sided with Stead scoring another going close to a hat trick, and numerous other Ipswich chances going begging besides. Very one sided by the end but not a bad match quality wise overall.

2 – QPR Performance
Lack of heart, professional pride and confidence were the main problems here. QPR had the correct game plan, to play the ball around in deep areas and force Ipswich to come out and confront us before starting to move forward. That was the only thing we could do really because any long ball towards Simpson was immediately headed straight back by McAuley and Delaney the Ipswich centre backs. The problem was having given Ipswich an early goal there was less need for them to come and confront us, and when they did QPR couldn’t move the ball crisply or cleanly enough to take advantage. Still, had Taarabt taken either, or preferably both, of the sitters he was presented with in the first half we would have been at least level at half time. Having said that though dire marking from crosses and corners could easily have cost us another three goals at least at the other end. Once the second goal went in we were abject. We completely lost heart and fight and Ipswich could have run up five or six had their finishing been better. The way the heads dropped and the team gave up was very concerning indeed.

3 – QPR Support
Considering there was a replacement bus service operating at least some of the way from Liverpool Street, the weather had been poor, this was our second game in three days and Ipswich were charging extortionate amounts for tickets I felt the QPR support, numbers wise at least, was very impressive. The atmosphere inside the away end though was sadly lacking compared to previous years – obviously not helped by events on the pitch. In the second half the fans turned on Paul hart and the team again, singling Ben Watson out for particularly rough treatment as he continued his Scott Sinclair like knack of pulling out of tackles to avoid being injured and jeopardising his chances of further transfer window activity. Such behaviour is perfectly understandable, but ultimately unhelpful as it will only worsen the performance of the player on the pitch. Still, QPR fans seem increasingly frustrated at the way things are going at our club and short of booing at matches how can they convey these feelings to the club and the players?

4 – Atmosphere
Portman Road is a notoriously quiet ground but there was a better atmosphere inside the place this year than I can remember in recent seasons. Certainly there was regular audible noise from the North Stand at the far end of the ground, especially as Ipswich started to run through us at will in the second half. The “you should have kept Jim Magilton” chant made me smile, mainly because according to the league table so should they really. The stand to our left was, once again, absolutely silent for the entire match. But it was better and livelier overall than I remember it being recently.

5 – The Ground
Points off for a frankly ridiculous pricing scheme for away fans, far in excess of anything we will pay anywhere else in the Championship this season. Had a QPR fan turned up on the day and paid cash for a ticket nearer the halfway line they would have been charged £41.50. That’s the extreme example, but even the more common walk up fee of £35.50 or the pre-paid decent seat price of £39 plus booking fee at QPR’s end is an absolute disgrace. The price for senior citizens was extortionate, even for a full adult’s ticket. Ipswich really do not deserve the support they get at Portman Road. The away end itself is still a dank, dark, unpleasant place but does offer an unobstructed view of the field from a side stand which is a bonus. Downstairs the facilities are around a maze of fire doors, staircases and corridors over two floors. The overall look of the ground, wih the two tiered stands behind each goal, is still very impressive and it is right up there with Bramall Lane as one of the best traditional grounds in the league.

6 – The Journey
With the trains knackered and the game taking place just 48 hours after the Bristol City match this one formed part of a road trip that started, in Scunthorpe, early on Boxing Day morning. The drive down to London for that was absolutely fine, the only other vehicle I saw the whole way was a lorry at Leicester that had somehow managed to jack-knife on the M1 despite being the only thing there at the time. I arrived and parked near Loftus Road at about 11am which gave me chance to change yet another headlight on the Seat Ibiza (that’s 12 in three years, beware potential purchasers) before heading off to the Green. After the match I headed over to the east side of town where I was staying for a couple of nights and attending various Christmas related festivities. Then it was a quick (and I mean quick) hop up the A12 on Monday morning, arriving in Ipswich just before noon with no problems. I know the town reasonably well so parked on the London side of the railway station which, while necessitating an after match walk through a very cold and dark park, did enable me to shoot straight out onto the A14 with minimal time and effort, avoiding all the match traffic in town. From there it was a clear two and a half hour ride to Scunthorpe that would have been shorter still had I not got stuck behind one of those annoying eejits that thinks a petrol station is for something other than buying petrol. No exaggeration, I was stuck there for a quarter of an hour while this particular young lady got a coffee, something to eat and, it seemed, her weekly bloody shop before returning to her car and then randomly thrashing around in the driver’s seat for another couple of minutes before finally pissing off. No real problems, but a low mark because I hate and loathe driving with every bone of my body and would dearly love to have done the whole thing on the train.

7 – The Pre Match
There is, as documented on LFW plenty of times before, no pub in the middle of Ipswich that can offer you food and Sky Sports on a matchday. A niche in the market for any budding publicans I would say. This has caused problems in previous years and so on last year’s visit we decided that on our next visit we would eat in a café or restaurant in the middle of town as there were lots of nice looking ones there, and then decamp to the Irish PJ McGinty’s place over by the bus station which had a log fire burning and Sky Sports on last season. Of course that plan was thrown somewhat by the game being scheduled on a Christmas Bank Holiday. The Irish pub was shut, as were many of the nicer looking eatery places. I decided at that point to forgo food as the only other option was one of those annoying Wetherspoons that masquerades as a normal pub and only reveals its true identity when the ping of the microwave is heard and your “meal” is served. Poor Nick, I do hope he has recovered from that burger. As well as trying to poison you Wetherspoons refuse to show live football (but will advertise live Rugby Union I notice, which isn’t even a sport) so tempting as it was to stay and watch Sky News with subtitles we then decided to head back towards the ground and the Riley’s Snooker Club which was advertising Sky when we walked past earlier. It did indeed have Spurs v West Ham (already 1-0 by the time we got to it) on a large high definition screen at the back of the place in a sort of cinema set up with chairs set up in lines in complete darkness. I don’t mind admitting that, unable to really drink properly because of future driving commitments, I did spend most of the second half asleep.

8 – Police and Stewards
Lots and lots of both as usual, and a needlessly vigorous pat down search at the turnstile but once inside they were polite and stayed well out of the way.
Total – 45/80

Photo: Action Images

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