the real fa cup

Tractor stalls on Bridge

Chelsea 3 Ipswich 1
Attendance 41,137
Price £24

I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to this one, even if it was MY team. I dislike Chelsea more than I dislike Norwich and completely concurred with the ‘anti modern football’ flag clearly evident at the ground.

The Slug & Lettuce near the ground was rammed with Town fans high on the smack of a Big Four club, so much so I couldn’t find who I was supposed to meet. The beach balls were fun. What a morgue of an abortion of a ground of a haemorrhage of fans. I do have some rose tinted spectacles when it comes to football but Chelsea is all that is wrong with the game and part of the reason I wanted to watch some real stuff in the FA Cup and at non-league grounds. The gate Nazis frisked us upon entry, the back-packed, lager wallahs prowled the stands fleecing the gullible of their hand earned dollaz and the Chelsea fans sat there munching on crab salads or moaning about Scolari.

Ipswich were probably going to get killed here but they were going down singing, a rarity for Ipswich fans, at home games at least. It took Chelsea only 15 fairly dreary minutes to unlock Ipswich’s rearguard and it wasn’t the greatest of defending when the circumstances required it. Ballack touched in an easy goal and the crowd burbled for 10 seconds or so. However, Ipswich were having their moments and were not phased, nor outclassed. In fact, as the half wore on Ipswich started causing Chelsea some worrying moments. After about half an hour a dangerous Owen Garvan free kick eluded several expensive defenders and Steve Bruce’s not quite as good son buried the loose ball to equalise.

And within a minute of the restart the game’s defining moment arrived. Garvan and Jon Walters combined well in the Chelsea half to tee up Danny Haynes just outside the box. The central defenders were out of position and Cech was closer to his line than he should have been, this was the chance that would have turned the Chelsea fans from silent to angry. Haynes blasted it over the bar, not even troubling the man in the Goretex mask. By the end of the half, it was quite even, Ipswich perhaps even shaded it thanks to their strong finish and clearer chances.

The second half was, quite predictably, an entirely different story, although it still had its to and fro and Chelsea couldn’t quite get the final ball or, when they did, the Ipswich defence mostly dealt with it. It took two moments of undisputed class for West London’s bored to come to a semblance of life and see off the spirited efforts of the Championship club.

Chelsea’s second goal came from a brilliant Ballack free kick, given for a foul on Anelka but caused largely due to the reappearance of a surprisingly intent Didier Drogba who came on and started running at and bullying defenders. It was just what Chelsea needed but the game still had an end to end element with Chelsea looking the more likely to add to their score. This they did when not so fat Frank lashed another freekick into the corner from a seemingly unfeasible angle. Viewed later, on whatever ITV’s excuse for a highlights program is, it looked even better. Stamford Bridge creaked with relief more than anything and Ipswich gave a good account of themselves but, in the end, football lost again and another nail was drilled into its coffin. I don’t have the stomach to follow Chelsea so this is the end for me unless I get a ticket to one of the other games.

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