Bent's double is just enough

A DARREN Bent double gave Town a victory they almost contrived to throw away, writes Derek Davis.At 4-1 up and cruising, the suspect Blues defence allowed Rotherham back in the game with goals down as much to sloppy Town play as great work from a side that will play in League One next season.

A DARREN Bent double gave Town a victory they almost contrived to throw away, writes Derek Davis.

At 4-1 up and cruising, the suspect Blues defence allowed Rotherham back in the game with goals down as much to sloppy Town play as great work from a side that will play in League One next season.

Ian Westlake got Ipswich off to the start that had been demanded, Bent made it two but Tony Thorpe took advantage of a mistake by Jason De Vos to pull one back.

When Bent got another and Jim Magilton also scored it looked as if the Blues were going to go on the rampage, but instead they ruined all their earlier good work by allowing Martin Butler and Martin McIntosh to set up an unnecessarily tense finish.


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Rotherham were fielding an unchanged starting XI and went into the game on the back of two wins against Reading and Stoke sandwiching a defeat by QPR, and they were looking to pull off a surprise.

Town were unchanged from the side that beat Derby on Saturday and started well with Bent forcing a one-handed save from Mike Pollitt in the first minute.

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Kelvin Davis had already dealt with a Thorpe shot as the Yorkshire side showed they were not going to go down without a fight.

Richard Naylor was forced to block a Butler effort while Paul McLaren blazed a 20-yard shot high.

The resistance was short-lived as Shefki Kuqi nodded on a Davis goal-kick. Bent played a delightful ball wide for Darren Currie, who checked before chipping in for Westlake to head in from five yards with just six minutes gone.

Some of Town's football at times was mouth-watering as they put together some excellent moves, coupled with slick passing and wonderfully-weighted through balls.

Bent showed wonderful pace and persistence to get on the end of a Kuqi pass, but after brilliantly turning a defender he poked his shot wide at full stretch and with Pollitt advancing.

He made no mistake in the 25th minute though after Tommy Miller nodded a ball forward and the England Under-21 striker hit a venomous volley from 18 yards.

The celebrations lasted less than 30 seconds as Rotherham pulled one back from the kick-off. De Vos made a rare error to allow Thorpe the chance to get on to full-back Rob Scott's long ball forward and the striker, on loan from QPR, finished from 16 yards.

It was a poor goal to concede after playing so well, but it proved inconsequential.

Currie showed tantalising skill to carve out room for a 25-yard shot which sailed just over.

Kuqi headed against the crossbar after De Vos flicked on a Wilnis long throw but the lineman flagged, ruling the ball had already gone out.

Pollitt fly-hacked a dangerous back-pass from defender Paul Hurst with Kuqi lurking and Rotherham looked shaky.

Naylor hit over the bar from the edge of the area after being teed up by Bent, who was in scintillating form.

He burst past McIntosh to take a Westlake pass around the defender and his low cross was met by Kuqi, who knocked it into the side-netting.

Davis saved from a John Mullin header immediately after the break and Rotherham enjoyed plenty of possession early in the second half and keeper Pollitt entertained the North Stand with some warm up exercises.

They proved of little use as minutes later Bent notched his second goal of the game. Westlake and Kuqi provided some neat interplay with the young midfielder drawing defenders and keeper before guiding in a super ball for Bent to knock into an unguarded net.

Then it was the skipper's turn. Currie laid a ball into Magilton's path and with the crowd calling 'shoot' he did just that and drove a low shot into a bottom corner for his second in as many games.

Talk about buses. Magilton had not scored for more than a year at Portman Road before Saturday's win over Derby.

Miller came close to making it five in five for him with a turn and shot that floated just over.

But just as the Town crowd were settling down for a romp, Rotherham pounced on a mistake from Ipswich. Jamal Campbell-Ryce hit a low shot from 30 yards which Davis looked to have covered, but the ball trickled away from his body and Butler was the only one to react and poked the ball in.

Ryce was then inexplicably replaced by former Town loanee Paolo Vernazza and given a rapturous round of applause from the Blues crowd as he made his way off.

The Merry Millers found more joy 11 minutes from time when David Unsworth conceded a free-kick on the edge of the arc. Rotherham skipper McIntosh's effort took a wicked deflection off the wall and with no one else on the line the ball looped slowly in.

Substitute Shaun Barker had Town hearts in their mouths in the dying minutes as he shaped to shoot, but De Vos was able to get enough of a block in.

It was an edgy finish for Town as the defence looked less than convincing and things were not helped with five minutes added on.

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