Bright beginning after winning end?
Ipswich Town 3 Cardiff City 1OUT with the old - in with the new.It may not be January 1 but the message was loud and clear - Ipswich are already looking forward to next season and are putting 2006-07 behind them.
By Derek Davis
Ipswich Town 3 Cardiff City 1
OUT with the old - in with the new.
It may not be January 1 but the message was loud and clear - Ipswich are already looking forward to next season and are putting 2006-07 behind them.
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Jim Magilton was determined that his side went out on a high so they can start the new campaign on a positive note and after going unbeaten in seven of their last eight games of the campaign, including five victories, it was mini-mission accomplished.
At the final whistle the players went back to the dressing room to discard the shirts that have seen them finish 14th this season - ahead of rivals Norwich City - and came back out wearing the new pin-stripe kit, a retro look that was worn in the glorious days when they were UEFA Cup winners.
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They had kicked signed footballs into the crowd before the match and at the end threw boots and bits of kit into the happy throng.
One fan, Gary French from Debenham, even took home a brand new Fiat Grande Punto from Desira Group, after winning the season long Bootiful Game competition.
The manner of this victory also bodes well for the future, with some sparkling attacking football for the most part, and doggedness when needed.
Mind you it also showed what has to be worked on with Town showing a worrying lack of concentration for periods, which allowed the Bluebirds to swoop for an equaliser and even threaten to punish Town further.
That is for Magilton and his coaching staff to work on during the summer and with the right additions there is enough to be optimistic that the Blues can be serious contenders next season.
It seems the Ipswich public are also convinced the team is on the cusp of a fresh, bright start and turned out in numbers, with more than double the amount that renewed season tickets in attendance.
They partied at the end as the whole squad did a lap of thanks and sang 'Happy Birthday' to Magilton who was celebrating his 38th birthday.
In what was essentially a meaningless game in terms of league position it lacked any real tension or nerves and that allowed the players some freedom.
Certainly Owen Garvan was enjoying plenty of space in the middle and he put it to good use as early as the third minute when he played a precision pass down the throat of the City defence and past Roger Johnson.
Francis Jeffers read it perfectly, pounced like the proverbial fox in the box, and calmly beat the keeper with a shot that rolled in off a post.
That was the former Everton, Arsenal and England man's fourth goal in nine appearances for Town since joining on loan from Blackburn Rovers - no wonder Ipswich want to keep him.
Although Cardiff had large swathes of possession to keep their fans happy - they brought a banner proclaiming that 'Swansea's play-off party has been cancelled' - they could not convert until Warren Feeney found Paul Parry with a cross and the winger beat Dan Harding to head in the equaliser.
Harding, celebrating two Player of the Year awards, did not enjoy the best of afternoons and more than once was saved by the outstanding Fabian Wilnis and some great keeping by Shane Supple.
The young Irishman made a brilliant save from Steve Thompson, pulled off a difficult stop, one handed, down low, to deny Parry and then stood firm to block a Peter Whittingham drive.
Johnson cleared off the line from a Wilnis header from a Roberts cross and the Dutchman even tried an acrobatic overhead kick that wandered wide.
Gary Roberts, who Cardiff coveted, and Jaime Peters both had claims for penalties turned down as they teased and tantalised.
But the real inspiration for Ipswich came when first Danny Haynes, and then Jon Walters were introduced and they started to push City onto the back foot more and more.
Garvan was once again the architect for Ipswich's second goal after a marvellous passage of play.
Walters was in at the beginning of a lovely piece of interplay that also included Harding and Peters, before Garvan played another delightful ball in for Walters to score within two minutes of replacing Lee.
The little Canadian then put the ball in for Walters who calmly beat a defender before driving in his fourth Blues goal to double his tally since his bargain £100,000 move from Chester in January.
Although accepted as an excellent footballer there have been concerns that Walters doesn't score enough goals. Yesterday's brace will belay that worry.
Walters also netted twice for Chester against Bury earlier in the season, when Jim Magilton was at the game running the rule over Shakers striker Andy Bishop.
The third goal wrapped up the football and the season ended as it began with Super Jim chants as the fans go into the summer filled with hope and belief and the campaign's low points and disappointments forgotten and forgiven.