Ipswich Town fan Russell Claydon reflects on a debut to remember
You could not wish for much more from a debut than the one Grant Ward served up at Portman Road on Saturday.
Coming off the bench to score with his first touch and going on to claim a hat-trick to seal an opening day 4-2 win was Roy of The Rovers stuff.
I fondly remember Finidi George, Martijn Reuser, Dean Bowditch and Giovanni Dos Santos all bursting on to the scene — and this was every bit as good.
Up until half-time it seemed that things were set to follow a similar cagey, turgid pattern to the back end of last season.
Indeed, were it not for Bart’s amazing reflexes we would have been attempting to come from behind against Barnsley.
But Ward lit up Portman Road in what turned out to be a great second half of entertainment.
It was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show on Tuesday night as the bubble was burst by League Two Stevenage (1-0) in the now customary early cup exit.
The disappointing thing this time was that, despite the seven changes, Mick McCarthy fielded what looked a strong side.
Freddie Sears was finally moved back up top but really struggled. Terry Butcher suggested he may now be more suited to playing out wide, and he certainly impressed me there last season.
Wideman Conor Grant’s arrival from Everton has added much-needed depth in that area and Mick has compared him to Peter Whittingham. If he can live up to that he’ll be a superb addition.
Two tough away games now loom at Brentford on Saturday (3pm) and Wolves on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Three points has to be considered a good return to build on early momentum.