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Saints 2 Ipswich Town 2
THERE have been plenty of reasons to be positive at the start of this Saints season despite some ordinary results.
But, truth to be told, last night at St Mary’s was a bit of a mixed bag.
It wasn’t just that it was an average result at home, it wasn’t just that Saints finished the evening 22nd in the table, though those two things obviously didn’t help.
The whole place felt so flat, a shadow of what the club was even a few years ago.
The game against Ipswich was watched by the lowest ever league crowd at St Mary’s and to put it into perspective there would have been spare seats at The Dell.
There was little atmosphere to speak of, despite the best efforts of the Northam end in the second half, as fans are so dispersed around the ground, each virtually having a row to themselves.
In the end it was a decent point for Saints who were probably lucky to get anything.The team wee subdued and the fans likewise. A big performance and result is now needed against Barnsley at the weekend.Adam Leitch
In the build-up to the game the atmosphere was like that when Saints used to play reserve games against the big Premier League clubs at their main ground.
It got little better as the game went on but even Saints’ opener and later their equaliser were greeted by a polite round of applause rather than wild celebrations.
In terms of the league table it is certainly too early to get carried away.
The season is still in its infancy and Jan Poortvliet and his charges deserve patience.
But you only start to look at the league table at this stage of the season if you are near the top or bottom and for Saints it is the latter.
Poortvliet took the only option open to him after the defeat at QPR and restored a little experience to the side for the visit of the Tractor Boys.
Hopefully he will persist with it because as good as it is to play youngsters you need a solid and experienced spine for it to work.
After Jon Walters had wasted an early chance for Ipswich, Saints took the lead in rather odd fashion on 12 minutes.
Andrew Surman cut in from the left wing and seemed to almost mishit a right-footed shot from 25 yards out.
Somehow the ball continued on a path towards the far corner of Richard Wright’s goal and, almost in slow motion it seemed, found it’s way into the net.
It took Ipswich just eight minutes to draw level.
Jon Stead cut the ball back to David Norris whose first time shot was superbly saved by Kelvin Davis.
However, Saints didn’t clear the rebound and in among the scramble was Owen Garvan who lashed into the net from inside the sixyard box.
It was hardly a game for the defensive purists with neither side looking massively assured at the back.
Ipswich exploited space down the flanks afforded them by the minimal cover the full backs were getting and Saints had Davis to thank for another top save on 24 minutes, this one at the feet of Stead. Just moments later he was called into action again to turn Norris’ flicked header over the bar.
The second half started with an opening for Saints when Pim Balkestein miscontrolled to allow Nathan Dyer a free shot from the edge of the area but he failed to even hit the target.
Saints were caught cold on 50 minutes as Ipswich took the lead.
They worked the ball out to the right and Moritz Volz who stood up a cross to the far post which Alan Quinn charged off the right wing to power home for 2-1.
To their credit Saints did rally and found themselves level again on 68 minutes.
David McGoldrick’s deflected shot broke kindly for Tomas Pekhart who was only just on as a sub but needed no second invitation to hammer the ball past Wright.
Despite all this Ipswich sensed the game was there for the winning and threw on two strikers for the closing stages, leaving Saints, desperately at times, defending in their own area.
Again they had Davis to thank for two excellent saves – one from Walters and another from Kevin Lisbie.
In the end the scores finished level and Saints were probably happier with that, even if that wasn’t what everybody was hoping for at the start of the evening.
Now they really need a boost in Saturday’s home game against Barnsley – for the sake of the fans as well as the table.