After that toothless display against Exeter, yesterday we witnessed an Ipswich team that defied the laws of football logic and came away an honourable draw.
This was a team that had obviously taken on board the points raised by a frustrated Paul Hurst, after he managed a side in midweek in the Carabao Cup, that had let both him and the club down.
Yesterday, however, it was as if the team had been transformed into a fighting machine, as the side played with collective guts and vigour throughout. Their cause was not aided by referee Tim Robinson who seemed to give every marginal decision to the visitors, and he capped what could only be defined as atrocious officiating, by sending off Tayo Edun for an innocuous challenge after he had already been booked.
The Blues were at it from the off and a sublime bit of skill by newcomer Gwon Edwards, who singled-handedly took on half the Villa defence, before getting the ball back from Edun via Jon Nolan and then slamming a swerving shot against the Villa bar.
The healthy attendance certainly added to an electric atmosphere, and it was against the run of play when Villa poked their noses in front when John McGinn crossed from the right and Kodjia expertly glanced a near-post header across Bialkowski and into the net.
It was a cruel blow but the Tractor Boys were soon on the front foot again, and justice was done when Town levelled things after a long Jonas Knudsen throw caused havoc in the Villa defence and Villa keeper Orjan Nyland dropped the ball in panic in front of Chalobah, who pivoted before finding the bottom of the net.
When I watched Villa here at the back of last season, it was Grant Ward who saw red and when Edun was unfairly dismissed after 39 minutes that feeling of deja vu began all over again.
Yet, Ipswich heads did not drop and they fought tenaciously to stay in this game, and in the end, this point felt more like the win that all Town fans have been waiting for since the start of the season. Even with ten men, Town were often on the front foot and Chambers and Knudsen at the back were immense.
In fact, I am of the view, if we had not had Robinson in charge, Town could have ended the game with eleven players and all three points but if there is anything that galvanises the Suffolk folk into vocal support, it is injustice on the field and the Portman Road faithful made up for that missing man!
Manager Paul Hurst can be rightfully proud of his troops today. They showed us all that they have bought into what the ‘gaffer’ wants and those harsh words in midweek were not said entirely in vain.
As for that referee, I urge you to check out his profile and the comments about his performances in recent games. It makes for interesting reading and confirms the fact that supporters of other clubs are equally enraged by his decision-making processes. http://www.football-lineups.com/referee/2355/blog/
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich