THANKS to often-controversial referee Stuart Atwell and Town’s Alan Ferguson and his ground-staff, every Blues follower got what they wanted more than anything for Christmas on Saturday — a precious three points.
After a horrendous run of six straight league defeats going into the teatime kick-off against Leicester City, Roy Keane must have thought he was receiving the football equivalent of a lump of coal from Santa when Atwell took the players off the pitch due to heavy snow after 58 minutes with his side 3-0 ahead and cruising.
But the perfect present was delivered for the under-fire Ipswich manager when David Norris, scorer of the first goal, led his team back on to the pitch 15 minutes later with a beaming smile on his face to play out a goalless last 30 minutes.
It was quite simply a bizarre game from start to finish — every time Town scored the celebrations were tinged with the nagging doubt that there looked no way we would reach the golden 80-minute mark (at which point the result would have to stand). Had the game been poised at 0-0 come the second half the outcome of the match would in all probability have been left for a warmer day.
But we played the conditions better and ended up the winning side by demonstrating a steely determination we have to hope is the start of a turning point.
The highlights were the performances of young Shane O’Connor, back in from the cold, bombing down the left wing and Rory Fallon playing a part in all three goals. The Kiwi’s arrival at Portman Road, on loan from League One Plymouth, hardly set pulses racing. But if he can provide the foil to get Jason Scotland scoring, as he did for both of his goals, to some extent, on Saturday, he could prove to be a vital addition.
Facing the press afterwards, Keane’s relief was clear to see, but at the same time he realises the one result hasn’t got him out of the woods. And they’re quite thick woods in my opinion right now.
Five more loan players could be packing their bags come January, after Andros Townsend has already departed back to Tottenham. Why he wasn’t a regular fixture when we have been crying out for creativity and pace I don’t know.
Keane knows massive challenges lie ahead, starting against a dangerous Danny Graham-led Watford at home on Boxing Day. His squad will really be tested with four games over nine days starting with the Hornets and followed by a trip to Doncaster on Tuesday. Maybe some more snow wouldn’t be a bad thing…