Cash injection needed

IT can only be guessed what the reclusive Michael Spencer thought after his rare visit to Portman Road but certainly any hopes the multi-millionaire would be willing to take the plunge and invest even further in Ipswich will have taken a hammering after this drab defeat.

By Derek Davis

IT can only be guessed what the reclusive Michael Spencer thought after his rare visit to Portman Road but certainly any hopes the multi-millionaire would be willing to take the plunge and invest even further in Ipswich will have taken a hammering after this drab defeat.

The chief executive of Icap, the world's largest money broker, is not a huge football fan so perhaps will not have appreciated that Stoke staged something of a smash-and- grab, with the Blues looking the better side for large periods of the game.

But the financial wizard, with an estimated personal wealth of around £360million, will be interested in the bottom line and the figure that really matters is, once again, a deficit for the Blues, with Ipswich going down 1-0 to a Liam Lawrence finish.


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The 20,000 crowd will also send out warning bells and the lack of atmosphere and entertainment is not an attractive proposition.

But the man who spent £1m on getting Robbie Williams to sing at his wife Lorraine's birthday party will know that it is often needed to speculate to accumulate and, what manager Jim Magilton does in the January window, will have a huge bearing, not just on this season but the one after, where promotion has to be achieved.

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While a right-back is clearly a priority, the thing Town need most of all at the moment is a striker.

Alan Lee is going through a lean spell, one goal in 10 games, and, while Jon Macken is playing well as a second forward holding the ball up and linking play to an extent, he is not a threat in front of goal.

The Blues gave a look at Woodbridge Town striker Joe Francis in midweek as he started in the 1-0 behind-closed doors win at Watford, but what Ipswich really need is a finisher of the ilk of Norwich's Rob Earnshaw or Colchester United's Jamie Cureton.

The lack of a goal threat was apparent against Stoke, with Lee way below his own standards and looks to be in need of a break or a goal to kick-start his season once more.

Macken has his own qualities but doesn't frighten defences or inspire his own team-mates with his lack of goal threat.

Even when the usually bubbly Danny Haynes came on, Town looked flat. Perhaps a Haynes/Billy Clarke combination would freshen things up. Perhaps we will find out at Coventry today.

The Blues expressed themselves happy with the way the defence performed but really they should be grateful that Ricardo Fuller, just as he did at Colchester, missed a raft of half-decent chances.

As early as the 15th second, he was clean through but blasted over the bar. The former on-loan Jamaican striker also fired wide and hit another into the side-netting as Town continually opened up.

Lewis Price was grateful to see another of his efforts go onto the roof of the net after he fumbled the shot.

Fuller spent an eventful month on loan at Ipswich last season and it was he who helped Stoke find the breakthrough.

The former Southampton and Pompey striker laid the ball into Lee Hendrie's path and, when he found his way blocked by the Ipswich defence, he played a neat back-heel to spring Lawrence and the on-loan Sunderland player finished with an angled shot into a bottom corner.

Ipswich manager Jim Magilton rued his side's missed chances and said: “We controlled possession and had passages of play when we were very good but at other times we were poor. It was a bad goal to give away but overall it was a game where we should not have lost.

“It was a poor goal to give away and our defence was grand, solid up to a point. We handled them very well.

“Stoke came with a game plan to get people behind the ball and hit us on the counter-attack, which worked.

“We lacked any real conviction or belief that we could win the game. It summed us up at the back when Dan Harding puts in a great ball but we did not have any bodies in the box to stick a head on it.”

The single-goal victory over Ipswich saw the Potters keep their eighth clean sheet in nine games and push them back into the play-off places.

City manager Tony Pulis got what he asked for after that Layer Road loss but is not looking to far into the future in terms of eyeing promotion.

Pulis said: “It was very important that we bounced back after the Colchester game where we were desperately disappointed. It was a bit of a travesty there but the lads have bounced back and shown a bit of character. We are now 13 points from safety.”

It wasn't the most inspiring of games and Stoke's goal came against the run of play.

Ipswich had looked the most likely to spark the game into life but 19 minutes from time on-loan duo Lee Hendrie and Lawrence combined to crack open the Blues.

The worry is this Town team was probably as strong as they have and that does not bode particularly well going into the second half of the season.

Let's hope Spencer wasn't put off and feels like being Santa by significantly increasing his stake in Town with a massive investment.

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