A glimpse of the future
IF this was a glimpse of the future then Ipswich Town supporters have much to look forward to next season.Two teenagers made their debuts as Town thumped Derby County 4-1 and the magnificent 4,000 travelling fans gave an indication of what sort of season ticket take-up there is going to be.
IF this was a glimpse of the future then Ipswich Town supporters have much to look forward to next season.
Two teenagers made their debuts as Town thumped Derby County 4-1 and the magnificent 4,000 travelling fans gave an indication of what sort of season ticket take-up there is going to be.
It was the perfect end to an imperfect season. While three more points secured seventh place and a finish higher than their old rivals, Norwich City, there was also a sense of farewell for some of Town's stalwarts.
Rob Lee gave Derby the lead but Pablo Counago forced an own goal from Ian Evatt to equalise and Darren Bent scored Town's second to finish the season on the high he wanted and taking his strike tally to 18 goals this season.
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If, indeed, it was the last game for Jim Magilton and Matt Holland then it was fitting that they should score the final two goals.
Magilton's was from a superbly executed 25-yard free kick and Holland's was a 20-yard side-foot in time added on.
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Blues boss Joe Royle clearly wants both players to stay but financial circumstances could force his hand on Holland, who still has three years on his contract and will not be a cheap option for any Premiership club.
And while Holland clearly wants to play back in the top flight, he has never expressed a desire to leave Portman Road.
The Town skipper said: "It was nice to finish the season with a goal and, if that was my last game, a good way to go. But nothing has been decided yet and it might not be, we just don't know yet."
Royle said: "It is no secret that Matt might go in the summer, but I stress the word might. If it was his last game then it was fitting that he should go with a goal."
Magilton, along with Fabian Wilnis, has been offered a new contract but his personal circumstance may make it difficult for him to stay in East Anglia.
Royle said: "I have offered Jim and Fabian contracts and will speak to them. I have yet to see Richard Naylor, but he too will be offered a new contract. Jim has been a big influence and he ran the game again. They could not get to grips with him and even in that heat he ran things for 90 minutes."
Royle revealed Matt Richards was almost pulled out of the game after feeling unwell on Saturday night and not getting any sleep.
He was given a test before the game but was still not feeling 100 per cent. He said: "Matt was still a bit groggy at the start but got better as the game went on. If he had not have made it we would have had to go with four players on the bench because we had no-one else here."
While Royle will do his upmost to keep his squad intact, he knows he will have to lose a couple of big earners. So to see Aidan Collins and Antonio Murray make steady debuts is a big bonus.
The boss said: "Both did very well and had debuts they can be proud of. Antonio has come through with a rush after suffering with shin splints up until Christmas.
"But the first time I saw him I thought the lad had everything. He can tackle, win the ball and pass. He has done very well in the reserves and deserves his chance.
"It is incredible to think the big fellah is just 16. He was looking forward to getting on and did well.
"He just loves to head the ball and tackle. It was good to blood both of them and it will prepare them for next season."
While there is much to look forward to, Royle will be looking to eradicate the mistakes that once again cost Ipswich Town a goal.
However, he felt Lee's lob over Andy Marshall was a fluke.
He said: "It was a terrible goal to concede and we need to make sure we do not concede as many next season. It is black-and-white.
"It was great to finish with a win and great for the fans to finish above Norwich. But I'm still not happy with seventh, we could have made it."
Marshall had just one more save to make and he did it brilliantly to deny Izale McLeod with a one-handed stop.
But Royle's final word of the day went to the Town turn-out.
He said: "That was amazing support and I know the players appreciated it too.
"We need to start next season as we finished this. Then we will be promoted. There are no excuses, we are good enough to go up."
The players and staff will now take a break, with pre-season starting at the beginning of July. Judging by the send-off there are an awful lot of people already looking forward to it.