Quite the most depressing ninety minutes I can remember watching at Vicarage Road, for all sorts of reasons.
Crystal Palace gave their survival hopes a boost with a win at Watford, who are now hovering a point above Palace in the drop zone.
Will Hoskins’ late strike helped Watford edge away from the drop zone and dragged Ipswich back into trouble. Henri Lansbury opened the scoring for the Hornets when his 35-yard free-kick eluded everyone and sailed straight in.
Yes, yes, Will Hoskins. We’ll come to him in a moment, for we must first pause to salute Lord Doyley. The bravura pirouette in the first half, followed by splendid left-footed cross onto the head of Heidar Helguson at the far post, was the stuff of ten minute standing ovations. But the defending often deserved a similar response: one early Ipswich attack bounded eagerly over the halfway line, discovered Jay Demerit too far forward, threatened to burst dangerously into the penalty area…and then found itself quietly shepherded to somewhere near the corner flag, any spark of danger suffocated by a gigantic, inescapable wet blanket. He must be utterly miserable to play against, ninety minutes of having your bright ideas tied up in red tape by the local health and safety officer.
Relegation-threatened Peterborough saw off fellow strugglers Watford to claim their first away win of the season.
Defeat also dragged the Hornets closer to the relegation mire, with Malky Mackay’s men having lost their last four matches. The Hornets could have no complaints and only woke up after Dickinson had found the net.
Worth remembering, first of all, that this is what this season was supposed to be like from the start. Or from the end of August, at any rate. Having sold off our most sellable assets in August the real surprise is not that we stumble to a clumsy defeat against Peterborough but that this season has lifted expectation levels to an extent that made this look like a home banker beforehand, even given our recent form.
Shefki Kuqi’s early goal gave promotion-chasing Swansea the win in a rip-roaring encounter at Vicarage Road.
Before Swansea shut us down completely in the latter stages of the second half, this was very far from hopeless. The reality was that a great deal of blood, sweat and tears went into the creation of any chances, whereas our opponents appeared able to glide effortlessly over the halfway line whenever they could be bothered and absent-mindedly missed a whole bunch of absolute sitters (apart from one, sadly) in the early minutes. Nevertheless, the response to going behind was terrific, a clear sign for those of an optimistic leaning that we’re not just going to slump into abject self-pity.