The ACN Match Review – Ipswich (h)


Phew. But also: Hurrah! As an entire county slowly unclenches, Paul Buller processes a collective triumph for club and supporters.

The line-up

The only line-up Wagner could really pick. I worried (all week) that our ever-thinning squad depth would find this a match too far but hey, turns out it’s still got some very decent legs in it. Shane Duffy was a slow starter after his return from injury but his presence was very much welcome. And Liam Gibbs was given a glorious 20 minutes to allow us to brag about pinching him off Ipswich, which was nice. 

The atmosphere

This was my 11-year-old son’s first derby and the atmosphere was so loud, supportive and impressive that he was shaking, his heart banging away as he clung on to me as if he was four years old again. I’ve never seen him so engaged.

It’s been such a long time since Carrow Road bounced like that, from the superb ‘Since I Was Young’ surfer that stretched right across the lower Barclay (courtesy of ACN’s design wizard Ben Stokes) to the random military personnel arbitrarily whipping up support before the game. And then just the sheer noise from all corners of the ground; a sound that barely abated. And the Ipswich fans were rather quiet. Just bloody lovely. 

Hurrah moment

Lots of these but the moment has to go to Señor Núñez for his clever, probably entirely intended free kick to win us the game. Ipswich had given us several chances around the box from their endless fouling and it was beginning to feel as if we weren’t ever going to hit the target. Núñez shot was as close to the post as it could be and perfectly out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Cue pandemonium. 

Boooo moment

Today it was nice to boo in unison, in harmony, all together, at the Ipswich players.

Hero of the Match

Within the first ten minutes, Kenny McLean had absolutely balled out Sam McCallum for losing his man. McCallum did not lose his man again. In the final ten minutes, McLean trapped a wild, skied ball dead and just stood on it in midfield, quelling all panic from a rising Ipswich storm. In between time, realising Ipswich weren’t going to give him the freedom other teams do, he just made sure they couldn’t get the ball or do anything with it, allowing the equally excellent Núñez to run the show. This was pretty much as complete a captain’s performance as you’ll see, and the reason why he should be handed Player of the Season right now. 

Our post-match takeaway

If you’ll allow me a personal moment – which I’m sure many of you will share and recognise – while this was a very special win for us, it was even more so to be able to share it for the first time with my son. For years, I’ve seen friends and family come and go from Carrow Road, move to the other side of the world, and even pass away.

I’ve kept going back, often on my own, most recently dragging my son with me knowing full well he’d rather play on my phone than watch the football. Something’s clicked for him in the last few months, and today was the confirmation for him that football can be an extraordinary experience when you’re with someone else, and, like today, when you’re with the whole crowd. I gave him many chances this week to bottle out of going to the game because secretly I was petrified we’d lose and he’d see the unpleasant side of an Ipswich game. But he was determined, and I’m so glad he was because the reward was worth it.

For many reasons, today will live with me forever – and for all of us who went thinking it was probably time to accept defeat was likely. There will be better games and greater triumphs but Carrow Road does not get much more atmospheric than it was today, and that’s what keeps us coming back – generation after generation. And I really appreciate that. Thanks Nodge. 


  1. Simon East says:

    A great report. I’ve been going to Carrow Road for sixty years now. Not many days that I have enjoyed more.

  2. Di Cunningham says:

    Great read PB and love that this will be a day you’ll both remember forever 🫶

  3. Clive Spooner says:

    Paul.That’s a lovely update and I am so glad you and even more importantly your son experienced that atmosphere and win. Thank you for sharing. I used to have my moments like that from the same age of 11 with my Dad David Spooner who sadly passed 10 years ago. His brother John played years ago for the Canaries. It is a great bond sharing that common passion. Half a century on the passion for everything NCFC can’t be broken even when you are frustrated with things. Well done team. You did us all proud. So much commitment and heart. That ultimately is all we can ask for. Things may go against us like the ridiculous decision to red card Borja yet if we give our all what else can be asked for? You were all immense today. OTBC. Never mind the dangers. The team that wanted it most got justice. And let’s not forget we are not competing on a level financial playing field . Well done everyone again.

  4. John says:

    Please don’t throw all the well deserved good will away on Tuesday at Hillsborough…..
    Just Saying……

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