A familiar story for Royle

IF Joe Royle's post-match comments had a familiar ring about them it is because, if you swapped a bitterly cold Britannia Stadium for the miserable, partially finished Carrow Road building site, the results were pretty much the same, writes Derek Davis.

IF Joe Royle's post-match comments had a familiar ring about them it is because, if you swapped a bitterly cold Britannia Stadium for the miserable, partially finished Carrow Road building site, the results were pretty much the same, writes Derek Davis.

Poor defending, scorned chances and downright bad luck left Ipswich a beaten side although they have fairly battered the opposition for large chunks of the game. Royle said: "For the second time in a week we have comprehensively outplayed a side and lost the game by two goals. It's very frustrating. We have not had a stroke of luck and a coat of paint has denied us going in at half-time a goal up."

Darren Bent and Ian Westlake both hit the woodwork in the first half as Town rocked City back on their heels.

But two strikes, from a woefully inadequately marked Malky Mackay, swung the game controversially City's way and once again Royle was left bewildered. He said: "The first goal has come from a poor decision, it was not even a foul, but it was a home decision that you get. But then it was even poorer marking. We don't get free headers in the opposition box yet we are continually giving away free headers. It was a poor goal to give away in a game we were totally in control of.


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"The first goal was always going to be vital and it lifted them. Then we went and conceded another one soon after and again it was poor marking from a set piece. The individual concerned knows but it is not new to us. We have not defended properly all season.

"There was also a large slice of good fortune about their third goal because we thought it was offside and then his shot took a huge deflection off Georges Santos before going in. But by then we are stretched going forward and they are playing against 10 men."

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Table-topping Norwich were widely tipped to overwhelm Ipswich, who started the day in sixth spot.

But it was the Blues who looked more like promotion favourites.

Royle said: "I was not surprised at how dominant we were. I expected us to be. At our best we've got more quality than the top two, it's just that we haven't got the same resilience and the defensive nous. At times we were outstanding. Jim, Jermaine, Tommy and Ian totally dominated the midfield. Darren Bent was terrific and gave us his best half of the season. Georges was excellent and until he was sent off Drissa defended very well.

"But it doesn't alter the fact we have conceded three goals. We need a bit of luck and a bit of a cutting edge.

"We can pass the ball as well as anyone in this division, but that is not winning us games at the moment."

The two dubious decisions, the woodwork and no points from a possible six has seen Town drop out of the play-off places but that has not stopped Royle aiming for a top-two finish. He said: "That sums up the sort of luck we've been having recently but we can't afford to feel sorry for ourselves. We've just got to pick ourselves up and move on to the next game.

"Automatic promotion is going to be very difficult now – we'd probably have to win all our remaining matches – but we'll keep battling away.

"There are no outstanding teams in this division. The top two are consistent rather than better than the rest. That is why there will be more twists and turns. If I'm truthful then I would say Wigan are the best team we have played in both games and they will fancy their chances."

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