Atletico too strong

Ipswich Town 1Atletico Madrid 2Comedy, they say, is all about timing. The same could be said about preparing for a new campaign and the Blues appear to be saving their wins for precisely the right moment as their Championship opener against Cardiff looms next Saturday.

By Derek Davis

Ipswich Town 1

Atletico Madrid 2

Comedy, they say, is all about timing. The same could be said about preparing for a new campaign and the Blues appear to be saving their wins for precisely the right moment as their Championship opener against Cardiff looms next Saturday.


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There has not been much to laugh about during the summer warm-ups so far, putting the eight goals against Cambridge and Boston in context, they have lost four games on the trot, had their skipper sent off and suffered a couple of injury blows.

But the manner in which Town played against the Spanish giants in an entertaining first half gave much hope to the watching Blue faithful, although that numbered less than 10,000.

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Although it was something of a makeshift starting side in the wake of injuries to Nicky Forster and Dean Bowditch, Town showed plenty of cohesion and balance and deservedly went ahead through Ian Westlake.

But in what has become a sadly familiar trait, they allowed all their good work to be undone seconds before half time when Mateja Kezman equalised.

With a host of substitutes pouring on, the second 45 minutes didn't match the first and Town were caught out at a set piece as Pablo Imanez headed in the winner for Atletico.

Although Town's strongest XI, plus a couple would pose a threat in the Championship, injuries and suspensions leave them vulnerable.

The problem remains a wafer-thin squad and to that end manager Joe Royle has been trawling Europe for suitable reinforcements. Free agent Luis Castor Rodriguez, known as Castro Sito, was given a run-out at right-back and did well until tiring badly towards the end of the first half and inadvertently playing a part in Atletico's equaliser.

The former Racing Ferrol defender will today find out whether he is going to get another chance to shine, and work on his fitness.

If so he will play against against League One opposition on Tuesday as Town face a good Colchester United side, who have already beaten Brighton and drawn with Norwich City.

Madrid left out their much-vaunted Spanish international Fernando Torres, after he failed a fitness test in the morning, but still had former Chelsea star Kezman and new signing, Bulgarian international Martin Petrov, in the line-up.

Although the Blues enjoyed a lot of the play, especially first half, they still had to rely on keeper Lewis Price a few times.

Twice Price made excellent stops from powerful Rodriguez shots and even had to be alert when one of his team-mates almost deflected into his own goal from close range.

The Wales international played well throughout and left Serbian international Kezman bewildered with a late save.

The Blues goal in the 19th minute was beautifully worked with the impressive Jimmy Juan playing a ball in for Dean McDonald.

Westlake ran on to meet McDonald's clever touch and slotted the ball low past the keeper Leo Franco from 14 yards.

Pace, precision and great movement, for an excellent goal.

Sam Parkin, who desperately needs a goal to go with the good form he is showing, almost made it 2-0, four minutes later when he met a Darren Currie corner with a powerful header but it drifted just wide.

Jim Magilton's right-foot volley almost caught out keeper Leo Franco and the skipper curled 20-yard free-kick over the bar, early in the second-half.

Madrid equalised on the stroke of half time after Castro was bundled off the ball but no foul was given.

Petrov sprinted clear and pulled the ball back for Rodriguez, whose shot was saved by a Price leg, but Kezman followed up to drive into an unguarded net.

The Spaniard was replaced at half- time by Matt Richards, who went to left-back with Fabian Wilnis reverting to the right.

Braulio cracked an effort against the crossbar before Ibanez took advantage of poor marking to head in Ariel Ibagaza's near post corner.

Jason De Vos blocked a Kezman shot after Atletico made six substitutions at once and Kevin Horlock volley a 25-yarder just over the bar.

Although the youngsters worked hard and showed glimpses of their undoubted quality, Town didn't have enough to really trouble the Spaniards.

Ipswich Town: Price, Sito (Richards, 46) Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Juan (Horlock, 56) Magilton (Trotter, 69) McDonald (Knights, 72) Parkin, Currie (Garvan, 46) and Westlake. Subs not used: Supple and Casement.

Atletico Madrid: Leo Franco, Velasco (Molinero, 62), Lopez (Gonzalez, 72) Ibanez, Contra (Colsa, 62), Perea, Rodriguez (Ferenandez, 62), Arenas (Zahinos, 62), Baulio (Arizmendi, 62), Kezman, Petrov (Ibagaza, 62). Subs not used: Sicilia and Cuellar.

Referee: Kevin Wright (Peterborough)

Attendance: 9,305.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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