City new boy Zesh Rehman was pulling few punches as he wandered through the rubble of yesterday’s derby disaster.
The assured performance of the 22-year-old, on-loan Fulham defender was arguably the only bright spot for City in Ipswich’s 2-1 victory – a result that not only saw Town leapfrog over their Norfolk neighbours, but all but ended the Canaries’ distant dreams of staging a late charge into the play-off zone.
Preston North End are now 12 points distant and with a game in hand. With Ipswich 10 points off, it’s a fair bet that the two age-old rivals will be locking horns again next season.
The fact that Rehman had taken to his new surroundings so well was of little comfort to the one-time England Under-20 defender.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the three points,” said Rehman, as Jimmy Juan’s deflected free-kick and Gary Doherty’s 88th minute own goal wiped out Jonatan Johansson’s debut strike and left 150 furious supporters back at the gates of Carrow Road afterwards, demanding Nigel Worthington’s head.
“The first goal was deflection, but the second goal was poor – we switched off and got punished,” said Rehman, who finished the game at right-back after skipper Craig Fleming disappeared with a hip injury.
“We just weren’t at the races in the second half and we didn’t deserve anything,” added Rehman. “All we can do is pick ourselves up, forget this and look to go again in our next game.”
The fact that Rehman produced that level of performance in only his sixth game of the season – his first since the end of October – suggests there may be plenty more to come for the 6ft 2in defender. The big, big problem for Worthington is getting his growing collection of clearly talented players to gel – both tactically and in terms of spirit – into anything resembling a decent team. On that front, Town’s FA Youth Cup winning teenagers – aided and abetted by the odd ageing warrior here and there – were streets ahead of their hosts and thoroughly deserved to return home weighed down with the derby spoils.
“I felt comfortable out there – it was good to just get a game, but for me, the next game can’t come quickly enough,” said Rehman.