Monday, 24 September 2012
Ipswich Town 1 v 2 Charlton Athletic
Saturday 22nd September 2012
Football League Championship
Portman Road, Ipswich
A first Charlton awayday of the season for me today, to a stadium that I have wanted to visit for many years bur has proved elusive over the years. The truly scandalous ticket price strongly tempted me to give this match a miss as well, although in the end, considering that overall, a trip to Portman Road would be cheaper and more convenient than other Charlton awaydays in the north, I decided to head to Suffolk for this fixture.
Portman Road is something of a dying breed amongst Football League grounds in that it is very conveniently located little more than a stone’s throw from the town centre and about a ten minute walk from Ipswich train station, although I chose to make the journey via the official Charlton coach service. In these days of identikit stadia, Portman Road has a nice individual, intimate and attractive feel about it, with a mixture of new stands behind both goals and older two tiered stands along both lengths that have been upgraded to still have a comfortable feel to them. Away fans are housed to the end of one length of the pitch, in the Cobbold Stand, and views are good and unobstructed, and the acoustics aided by the fully enclosed nature of the stand ensures a good atmosphere is easily generated. The programme was fairly standard fare for the Championship – with an attractive layout but seemed to be light on interesting material to read.
Today’s game would be between two of the strugglers in the division. Both teams have won one and drawn two of their opening six league games, although Charlton’s better goal difference meant that they were one place better off than Ipswich, in 22nd place. Both clubs’ pattern of results have been similar too, drawing their first and winning their second games, before picking up just one point from their next four games.
A feature of Charlton’s recent play has been that they have started games poorly, however this was not the case today, as they did most of the attacking in the early stages, and certainly did not give the ball away as frequently as in previous games. However chances were at a premium, perhaps not surprisingly for two teams desperately out of form, and half time arrived with the scoreline goalless.
The game exploded into life in the second half though, as Charlton took a stranglehold on the game within five minutes of the restart. Firstly Danny Green whipped in a cross from the right which eluded striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, but the ball was retrieved by Salim Kerkar, who crossed low back into the box, and Johnnie Jackson timed his run to perfection to powerfully shoot high into the net from just inside the six yard box. Two minutes later and Charlton doubled their advantage when Ricardo Fuller stole possession from a defender, strode forward with the ball, evaded a rather half-hearted challenge before firing low across keeper Scott Loach and into the net. There was a strong feeling that that goal would prove decisive, particularly considering the current morale of Ipswich, however just seven minutes later they were back in the game. Jason Scotland seemed to have a shoot on sight from distance policy all game, and it paid off when he shot from outside the penalty area, a shot which looked innocuous until it took a large deflection off of defender Michael Morrison, wrongfooting keeper Ben Hamer and the ball bounced gently into the net. This certainly buoyed the home side, although they rarely convinced that they could score, although Nathan Ellington blazed over from 8 yards in the closing minutes and hearts really were in Charlton’s mouths when Ipswich were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area for what would be just about the last kick of the game, but the ball sailed over the bar. So it was Charlton who claimed a valuable three points to lift themselves away from the relegation zone and keep Ipswich firmly in the mire and heap yet more pressure on manager Paul Jewell.