Wembley 1966. Lisbon 1967. Barcelona 1999. Istanbul 2005. The British game only has a handful of legendary, era-defining moments that will truly go down in history and be remembered through the ages. You can now add Portman Road (October) 2022 to that list, as at the fifth time of trying the mighty Ipswich Town finally beat Cambridge United in a League game.
Across the country, probably across the world, fans were glued to their TV sets to see if the plucky underdogs of Ipswich could pull off an incredible victory against an injury-depleted Cambridge side, and they were treated to an unforgettable match as the expensively assembled Blues won 3-0 aided by an unlucky deflection, a mis-hit cross, and some lacklustre defending. The inevitable comparisons to Brazil’s 1970 side, or Pep’s late 00’s Barca filled the back pages this morning. Scintillating stuff…
Bonner made four changes to the side that lost at the Abbey on Saturday, recalling Okedina, Brophy, O’Neil and Captain Greg Taylor to the side, at the expense of Dunk, Ironside, Tracey and Ibsen Rossi, some of whom were carrying knocks after a physical encounter at the weekend.
On the latest UTAS Podcast it was said that we need to get back to ‘Little Old Cambridge-ing’ games against the bigger sides, as we did so well last season. For seventy minutes we did that ably, soaking up the pressure from – let’s face it, an impressive Ipswich side that will probably go up this season.
United had a few breakthroughs, on another day the ball would have fallen better, or we’d have had that bit of luck and been able to at least get a shot on target, but mostly we were backs to the walls, defending solidly.
Ipswich’s breakthrough came on 72 minutes, Arsenal loanee, and nephew of Red Dwarf’s The Cat, Tyreece John-Jules finding himself in the right place to take advantage of an unfortunate deflection from Greg Taylor and put the ball past Mitov. Minutes later Kyle Edwards looped a cross over Mitov and into the back of the net. 2-0 down in three minutes, and whilst we didn’t deserve to be ahead, we certainly didn’t deserve to be behind in that manner.
Edwards added a third as United’s defence switched off, Kieran McKenna using his five subs and quality bench to great effect.
It’s hard to look at this game as anything other than what it was, probably the biggest, richest club in the division against one of the smallest, poorest ones. The fact we’re even competing with the likes of Ipswich, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday on this stage is incredible enough – but make no mistake, when Town fans start crowing on Twitter about how good they are, they should really be embarrassed at spending at utter fucking fortune and being stuck in this League for so long. Poor Ed Sheeran has had to dip his hand in his pocket to the tune of two million quid this summer just for them to sit second in the league, and rely on luck to break down a Cambridge side that spent that kind of money on purchasing their entire ground back. Us, along with roughly half the clubs in the League simply don’t have that kind of money to spend on players.
But enough about them, lest their idiot fans tweet me accusing us of letting them live rent free in our heads. United played well. Deflection aside Taylor played brilliantly, Okedina looks to have put his mistakes behind him in a high-pressure game. O’Neil & Digby tried hard, and competed well against a strong, well-drilled Town midfield, Knibbs, Brophy, May and Smith ran and ran and never gave up against a solid defence. Some people bemoan Bonner for making changes too late, but on 70 minutes what would you have changed? Honestly? You’re not going to bring Janneh or Tracey on when you’re up against it like we were, and the defence was holding up well until they broke through. We just don’t have the finances to have the kind of strength in depth other teams have, and you know what? That’s alright. We don’t need to. We’re not going to win every game, and as Bonner said – Ipswich away is the kind of place you win once every ten times and we used up our luck last season. That’s not an admission of defeat, that’s the reality of this game.
At the end of the day, who should be more proud of their side? Us U’s fans watching their side, managed by one of the hottest prospects in the EFL, with a fan as the owner and stability we’ve not had at any point in the past, competing in League One against the kind of sides who can spend a million pounds plus on one player, or Ipswich fans, who haven’t played in the Premier League since Tony Blair was Prime Minister and are commonly a punchline to a variety of footballing jokes, not least for having three stars sewn onto their shirts to celebrate winning two competitions that no longer exist, and one that hasn’t been taken seriously by anyone in a decade. Maybe they can add a fourth star for finally beating Cambridge.
Man of the Match: Jubril Okedina – welcome back.
Soundtrack of the Match: New Order – Blue Monday