Date: 9th January 2011 at 5:47pm
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The dire state of Ipswich Town Football Club was exposed for all to see at Stamford Bridge as a rampant Chelsea side demolished Charlie’s boys 7-0 in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Caretaker manager Ian ‘Charlie’ McParland, making his first (and surely only) Ipswich team selection, was forced to name an under-strength side with five changes from Roy Keane’s last match against Nottingham Forest. Loanees Rory Fallon (cup-tied), Jake Livermore (injured) and Jack Colback (returned to Sunderland) were all unavailable, so in came Jason Scotland, Carlos Edwards and Colin Healy making his first start since 2009. Damien Delaney and the suspended Grant Leadbitter also came out of the starting XI, Jaime Peters and Darren O’Dea filling the vacant slots. Teenage striker Connor Wickham, repeatedly linked with a move to Chelsea amongst others, kept his place up front.

Carlo Ancelotti meanwhile named a powerful if not full-strength Chelsea side, the likes of Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Nicolas Anelka mixed with youngsters Daniel Sturridge, Patrick Van Aanholt and Josh McEachran. Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Florent Malouda were all on standby on the substitutes bench.

Chelsea made their intentions known from the start, Van Aanholt beating O’Dea for pace before his cross swung beyond Salomon Kalou. Marton Fulop was then called into action to deny Sturridge closing in on goal before the former Manchester City striker thumped a shot wide, all within the first ten minutes.

Town were attempting to come forward when they could but struggled to string many passes together. They were however doing a better job of frustrating the Chelsea attack, riding out a string of corners from Lampard and McEachran. Troy Brown was on hand to block a strike by Sturridge before Fulop saved from Nicolas Anelka. Gareth McAuley meanwhile was earning plenty of cheers from the Town fans behind the goal, shielding the ball well and making several good interventions.

Ipswich finally began to threaten as the game approached the 20 minute mark. Van Aanholt prevented Wickham reaching a delivery from David Norris and Lampard cleared from an Edwards corner before Chelsea keeper Cech was given his first serious test of the match, Jason Scotland charging forward and smashing a powerful 25-yard drive which Cech was forced to push away with both hands.

That was as close as Town came in the first half, and the hosts were soon establishing their dominance again, Anelka looking almost certain to have broken the deadlock in the 23rd minute. The French striker ran onto a Lampard pass and beat Fulop before rolling the ball towards the gaping goal, but somehow Brown managed an incredible piece of last-ditch defending to slide in and clear it off the goal-line. Lampard and Anelka then both missed the target as the game passed the half hour, but the hosts looked certain to have their way sooner rather than later.

Sure enough, Chelsea took the lead after 32 minutes. A poor pass by Healy was intercepted to send Anelka away, jinking easily through the Town defence before striking on goal. Fulop got a hand down to it but then found himself stranded as the ball continued to trickle towards the open goal, where Salomon Kalou was on hand to make sure it went in.

Town had battled valiantly for the first half hour, but now the floodgates started to open. Lampard found Jose Bosingwa in acres of space on the right, Bosingwa then crossing low to Daniel Sturridge who got ahead of O’Dea at the near post with a cheeky little back-heeled finish past Fulop to make it 2-0 within 2 minutes.

That already made it feel like game over for Town, and they were to make things even harder for themselves five minutes before the break. Terry was brought down by a late challenge from Norris which earned the Ipswich skipper a booking. From the resulting free-kick, Lampard swung into the box and Carlos Edwards unfortunately managed to give it the kind of delicate nod that someone like Drogba would have been proud of, diverting it beyond Fulop into the far side of his own net. If it hadn’t been game over before, it surely was now.

Referee Andy D’Urso blew the half-time whistle with Town faced with what was already an insurmountable task. They had done well to make a contest of it for the first half hour, but like too many occasions this season, a first goal conceded was quickly followed by a second – and against a top team like Chelsea, that would only be followed by even more.

That indeed proved to be the case. Fulop managed to save Anelka’s first shot after the break, but it took just two minutes of the second half for the hosts to add to their lead. Nicolas Anelka passed for Kalou on the edge of the Town box, who slipped a perfect ball past Mark Kennedy for Anelka to smash a low shot across goal into the far corner for a well-crafted and well-finished fourth.

The unfortunate McParland, who by now must have been looking for a hole in which to crawl, attempted to force some kind of impact on the game with his first substitution, Ronan Murray coming on for Scotland. It made no difference however, with Ancelotti’s men making it five within a further 3 minutes as Lampard passed to Daniel Sturridge just inside the left-hand corner of the Town area. The 21-year-old striker thought about crossing for a moment, but then decided to simply hammer a sublime right-footed strike which dipped perfectly over Fulop into the far corner.

With the result well and truly decided despite having just under 40 minutes left to play, Carlo Ancelotti decided that now would be a good time to give some more of his young players a run-out, bringing on Gael Kakuta in place of Kalou. Meanwhile the Ipswich fans, who by now had already written off this result, were simply looking ahead to next week with chants of “Bring on the Arsenal!” It was probably just as well, as there was nothing for them to see on the pitch with Chelsea in complete control, Anelka and Lampard both missing chances for the sixth goal.

Scotland’s first half shot had been about as much as Town had created all game, and their next effort of any real note didn’t come until the 57th minute, Peters firing a shot wide of the far post after good work from Norris. McParland was soon to make his next change, Wickham – who had done nothing that might persuade anyone to sign him this month – coming off to be replaced by Priskin, the Hungarian striker receiving a warm welcome from the visiting supporters who were either very glad to see him or were just looking for something to cheer about.

Ipswich made another one of their rare forays forward in the 64th minute when substitute Murray took possession from Lampard. The young striker, who probably just thought he might as well have a go, cracked a shot from 30 yards which Cech was able to save comfortably. That was merely the second – and indeed the last – time that Town actually mustered a shot on target, prompting some of the Ipswich fans to break out with “We want one!”

After a rare quiet spell in the game, Chelsea soon started to make themselves known again. Van Aanholt came off for Jeffrey Bruma before Sturridge was brought down by Brown just outside the Ipswich area. Lampard stepped up for what looked like a good contender for his side’s sixth, but he couldn’t keep his shot on target.

The reprieve didn’t last long though. After earning his side a corner, substitue Kakuta saw his corner cleared by Norris only as far as Frank Lampard. The England international took one touch inside the D before unleashing a shot which left Fulop standing as it powered into the back of the net to make it 6-0.

Poor old Fulop was probably now having flashbacks of his last trip to Stamford Bridge a year ago, when he was in goal as Chelsea smashed Sunderland 7-2 in the Premier League. A minute later, he was experiencing the nightmare all over again as we was beaten for the seventh time. McEachran put Branislav Ivanovic in on the right of the Town box who squared for an unmarked Frank Lampard to tap in his second goal in two minutes. The goal lumped Ipswich with the likes of the aforementioned Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Stoke City and Aston Villa in having conceded 7 goals at the Bridge in the last year.

The travelling fans at the opposite end had long lost any interest in the scoreline. Instead, they were now keeping up their spirits with ‘left side, right side’ japery and attempting to get a Mexican wave going in the corner, chanting “boring, boring Chelsea” when the home fans refused to play along!

Chelsea meanwhile were still trying to extend their lead as the game ran into the final ten minutes, Ramires firing over from 30 yards before Peters had another rare shot for Town only to send it curling way off target. Chelsea very nearly did make it eight in injury time, Fulop having to make saves from Kakuta and Anelka as well as seeing a shot from Ivanovic blocked before D’Urso finally put Town out of their misery with the final whistle.

The result, Ipswich Town’s heaviest FA Cup defeat in their history, brings to an end a tumultuous week at the club. Chelsea completely outplayed Ipswich for almost the entire game, with the visitors looking positively timid and submissive in the face of such opposition. Caretaker manager McParland revealed his embarrassment at the scoreline after the game, but truthfully, few would have felt particularly aggrieved with him as there was little he could do having been unceremoniously dropped into this match following Keane’s sacking last week. The Town fans were excellent despite the horrors happening to their team on the pitch, and they will most likely have acknowledged that this game, big as it might have been, was something of a freebie. There would have been little expectation given the opposition anyway, never mind the disorganised state in which the team had come to Stamford Bridge, shellshocked and floating in a peculiar void between managers. As an FA Cup entry-level tie, it was also fairly meaningless in the context of the Blues’ season, with far bigger priorities elsewhere.

Those priorities will next come to the fore in Ipswich’s Carling Cup semi-final tie against Arsenal at Portman Road on Wednesday. With Paul Jewell expected to be named as the new boss to replace Roy Keane on Monday, it could be a big debut for the new man…

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Terry, Van Aanholt (Bruma 70), Ramires, Lampard, McEachran, Kalou (Kakuta 55), Sturridge, Anelka – Not used: Hilario, Ferreira, Essien, Malouda, Drogba

Ipswich: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Brown, O’Dea, Edwards, Norris, Healy, Kennedy, Wickham (Priskin 63), Scotland (Murray 49) – Not used: Lee-Barrett, Delaney, Smith, Eastman, Civelli

Did you travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday? How do you feel about the current state of Ipswich Town Football Club? Do you fancy Town’s chances at all against Arsenal midweek? Have your say on this regretfully record-breaking game(!) as well as all things Town by joining Vital Ipswich:

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