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Bent backs Pullen to bounce back

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

DOUBLE goal hero Darren Bent has backed young keeper James Pullen to bounce back after his horror league debut for Ipswich.

Bent's two goals salvaged a point for Ipswich after twice coming from behind against relegation-threatened Grimsby.

DOUBLE goal hero Darren Bent has backed young keeper James Pullen to bounce back after his horror league debut for Ipswich, writes Derek Davis.

Bent's two goals salvaged a point for Ipswich after twice coming from behind against relegation-threatened Grimsby.

Pullen, 21 next month, was not the only one in defence who went missing for the Mariners' first goal, as Richard Hughes sent in a corner for player-manager Paul Groves to stab just over the line before Thomas Gaardsoe could clear.

But the former Heybridge Swifts youngster was left red-faced when Michael Boulding's 20-yard shot deflected with backspin off John McGreal and instead of bouncing up slithered underneath the despairing keeper's dive.

Bent has played alongside Pullen in youth, reserve and now the first team and felt for his friend.

He said: "We all did. But we have told him to forget it, it happens to all of us at some point. Attackers miss chances and defenders make mistakes. It is all part of football.

"We were delighted for him to get his chance and thought he would do well. He was excellent in the Worthington Cup against Middlesbrough and even early on in Saturday's game he was doing fine.

"His decision-making was good, his handling was no problem and he made a couple of saves.

"I know how disappointed he is feeling but he will come back. We have told him not to dwell on it and knowing him, he is a confident lad, he will bounce back."

Skipper Matt Holland added his support to Pullen and said: "It was disappointing for James to concede a goal like that. It is something he would save in training but these things can happen. He is a confident boy and hopefully it won't affect him.

"A few of the lads have had a chat with him so hopefully he will get over it."

Bent's first goal owed much to the power and skill of strike partner Marcus Bent who took a pass from Fabian Wilnis before volleying it across for his young namesake to score with a superbly-timed diving header.

Young Bent said: "Having Marcus up there with me and Darren Ambrose is superb. He is such a big, strong and clever player. He has a lot of presence, can hold the ball up and you know that if you make the run he will pass it off to you."

His, and Town's second equaliser which earned Ipswich a point was his 15th goal of the season and he is in the hunt for more.

Bent, 19 earlier this month, said: "I set a target for the season of 15 but I'm looking to get more. I'm not going to set myself another target, every goal I get now is a bonus. I just hope they help us get more wins.

"While it was good to score a couple myself I would be quite happy for others to score if we won. It was a difficult game for us, we know it is one we should have won and now dropping points to them and to Wolves has hurt us.

"We are six points off the play-off paces, five points behind Norwich, so we know we have to win next Sunday.

"What we need to do is get another good run going like the one we had recently."

Along with Ambrose, Bent made his England Under-21 debut last week and the pair are coveted by a number of Premiership clubs. Newcastle United made a derisory offer which was rejected and Ipswich Town last night denied another bid had been made.


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