Date: 19th July 2015 at 7:37pm
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In what turned out to be a very entertaining match the Tractor Boys succumbed in the end to a narrow defeat.

With just one week to go before their season begins in earnest, Fortuna Dusseldorf were already firing on all cylinders, as they were two weeks ahead of the blues in terms of match-fitness.

Fortuna took control of the early exchanges, with Bialkowski having to save from Pohjanpalo and then Sercan Sararer pulled a shot wide after escaping the attentions of Kyle Hammond.

Town had started with some promise when a hooked effort from Luke Chambers forced Michael Rensing into an early save for the home side but our hosts were always a threat.

The atmosphere was electric with a full house of 7,300 and more than 600 travelling Town supporters boosting the decibel levels.

This was not like any other friendly game I have attended because it truly lived up to its billing and although most blues supporters choose to stand behind the goal, other blues fans were liberally scattered in the stands – often sitting side by side with home spectators!

This game was all about mutual respect and clearly emphasized that the beautiful game still has some life in it, with players and fans alike sharing this collective moral compass of friendship and comradery which was a delight to behold.

In the end though it was the hosts who took the lead after keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had almost single-handedly kept them at bay.

It was a dubiously awarded penalty that did the damage but from our vantage point the hand-ball went unnoticed as Liendl finished with aplomb and smashed the ball goalwards, to the delight of the Fortuna Dusseldorf supporters!

Two minutes later however and the blues were back on level terms, when Freddie Sears spotted the Dusseldorf keeper hesitate when coming off his line and he did what we all hoped he would and sent a sublime lob over the keepers head and into the bottom of an empty net!

Fortuna then dominated large segments of the first half and once again Bialkowski had to pull of a series of outstanding reflex saves to keep Town in the game but just before the interval Town fell behind again when Pohjanpalo expertly turned home a cross from Kevin Akpoguma at the near-post and into the unguarded goal.

Fortuna Dusseldorf were taking this game very seriously because it was their last warm-up game before the season proper so the same team came out for the second half – unlike Town who had changed everyone!

Surprisingly perhaps, the Tractor Boys started brightly and just after an hour of football it was Brett Pitman who spared Town’s blushes with another delightful chip over the advancing Rensing.

The blues continued to push forward and it was not long before Ipswich took the lead for the first time in the game and it was young Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles who got on the score-sheet this time, when he side footed home after good build-up play from both Kevin Bru and Ryan Fraser.

With just 16 minutes left on the clock, a noticeably tiring Town found themselves level again when Strohdiek headed home past Dean Gerken after an intelligent cross from Liendl caused havoc in the penalty area.

The perfect end to a wonderful game might well have been an honourable draw but on the balance of play our German friends just about deserved this victory and they got it when Sararer side footed home from close range, after a deceptively low cross from Julian Schauerte found his team-mate unmarked in the box.

Town can take great pride from this performance and having gone to the after-party later I can truly vouch for the extraordinary levels of hospitality bestowed upon all our travelling supporters.

This game will live long in the memory of fans, players and management alike and I think I speak for all true football followers when I say we were all profoundly moved by the welcome we received and I for one have found a new German football club to adopt from now on!

Let us hope too that we can make this a regular event and in an ideal football world we will both get promoted next season!

Frank Weston – Editor of Vital Ipswich


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