Date: 10th January 2016 at 6:46pm
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A draw at home to a team that is two divisions below us does not sound that good. Then again, we are still in the hat for the fourth round draw on Monday having fielded a largely alien side.

Mick McCarthy made seven changes to his team that faced Portsmouth at Portman Road and although premier clubs can generally get away with it, championship clubs often do not have the strength in depth to make the exercise work in their favour.

Lower division clubs do not have the luxury of this and they must play the cards they are dealt – allowing of course for injury and suspensions.

Town struggled to gel on Saturday against a team that have been in decline for some time. On paper at least, you might have expected the blues to win comfortably but there is nothing comfortable about a cup game and this becomes abundantly apparent when there are wholesale changes to the team.

It was a poor game to watch from a Town perspective but I do not blame Mick McCarthy for what he did. On the contrary, I think it was a rather shrewd move.

He needs to know whether he really has strength in depth and the only way of finding out is by throwing in a number of fringe players – who should be desperate for some game time and equally determined to tell their manager why they should be in the team!

The trouble with reserve football is that it lacks that competitive edge and a player will only truly realise his worth to a club when he is thrown in the deep end.

Unfortunately, Ipswich Town’s problems yesterday were twofold.

1. They lacked competitive action.

2. They were not used to playing together as a team.

A lot of the players coming in were in unfamiliar territory and although they have ability, it is only through regular involvement that a club finds out whether they up to it or not?

So the question that should be on every Town supporters lips right now is, have the blues got serious strength in depth?

Tommy Oar was probably the stand-out performer yesterday and there were some reasonable performances from Luke Varney and Malarczyk but they were hardly inspiring and so the jury is still out.

Getting another draw at home is not ideal but at least on this occasion there were mitigating circumstances. Our defence was far removed from the norm and the team that Mick put out lacked the telepathic football cohesion that normally leads to goals and sound defending.

In the end, we relied on the subs bench and Freddie Sears and Ryan Fraser to save our bacon but let us give credit to Portsmouth who perhaps deserved to win this one with their adventurous football.

A club from the same league as Portsmouth won today too, when Oxford United defeated premier strugglers Swansea 3-2 – so even the big fish can succumb in this fascinating competition.

We live to fight another day however and I am sure that although a replay is far from ideal, Mick McCarthy will give these lads a chance to play together again and perhaps manage to redeem themselves in the process.

Frank Weston – editor of Vital Ipswich


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