Crucial points tossed away by Town

JUST as time lost can never be regained so dropped points will never be recovered. So the two thrown away to a dogged Millwall side mean the Blues' already-fragile hopes of making the play-offs are now no more than a distant dream.

By Derek Davis

JUST as time lost can never be regained so dropped points will never be recovered.

So the two thrown away to a dogged Millwall side mean the Blues' already-fragile hopes of making the play-offs are now no more than a distant dream.

While this remains a big week for Town with away games at Preston and Crystal Palace, their role in the rest of the Championship season is likely to be no more than that of party-poopers or hope-givers.

With promotion hopefuls Watford also still to face Town, and relegation-threatened Brighton and Hull City to come at home, Ipswich can influence placings at the top and bottom.

They also have Derby and Stoke as visitors, and trips to Plymouth and Luton. If they pick six points up in the next two games then continuedwins would mean being ready if others blow up but the gap between not just Preston and Palace but now Wolves, and Town, is probably a bit too much.

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So the rest of the campaign can be played without fear and perhaps provides a chance to blood a couple more of the promising talents coming through as Joe Royle starts to plan for next season.

By then the injury hex should have moved on elsewhere and one or two additions during the summer will only add to what is beginning to look the makings of a potent squad.

On top of their game the Blues are now undoubtedly a match for anyone in this division but they are not so good that they can afford to drop into cruise control, which is what they did after a quarter of an hour against the Lions.

Although they survived an early scare when Shane Supple made a good save look simple from a Zak Whitehead header, the Blues looked set for a goal romp after Owen Garvan put then ahead in just five minutes.

Garvan, who signed a new deal on Friday tying him to Ipswich until the summer of 2009, was the first to a Matt Lawrence clearance after an Ian Westlake cross. He beat Marvin Elliott and hit the volley home from 25 yards for his third goal of the campaign.

It was a finish of stunning quality by the young Irishman, whose crisp early passing, inventiveness and awareness had Millwall scurrying all over the place.

Those early moments promised so much with Westlake flashing a shot across goal and evading the far post by inches. Dazzling Darren Currie was all shoulder-dips and feints, and curled a shot onto the roof of the net, during a period when Millwall looked every inch relegation candidates.

But as the falling snow thickened and Town's passing became more erratic the frustration grew, if not on the pitch then certainly among the shivering supporters.

The Blues had the most of the first half possession, almost too much as they over-complicated moves, played too many balls and on a precarious surface and poor conditions it never produced results.

Milwall had their moments and Fabian Wilnis and Jason De Vos had to be alert to clear danger and the defence was helped out by Alan Lee getting back to head clear. The pitch was the same in the second half but the weather cleared so there were no excuses for the wayward passes and general lethargy.

Matt Richards nodded over the bar after Lee nodded back a Currie cross but chances were few and far between. So, when Andy Marshall, mercilessly barracked by his former supporters, made a vital save with an outstretched leg to deny Danny Haynes from six yards, the game turned.

Alan Dunne switched on the after-burners and first Scott Barron then Sito Castro were left floundering in his wake as Town continued to give the ball away and allow Millwall to run at them.

The young defender did make a vital block to deny Dunne a clear effort on goal, while on-loan Wolves midfielder Colin Cameron shot with Supple exposed but de Vos cleared and Town were starting to get a mauling from the Lions.

The inevitable equaliser came five minutes from time when Town failed to deal with a controversial free kick. Elliott two sent headers goalwards but first Wilnis then de Vos headed off the line but Livermore arrived to power in and finish from eight yards.

Their elation at snatching a point, and making it just one defeat in five games under caretaker-manager David Tuttle, was tempered by a bizarre sending-off for Tony Craig.

The defender had been booked once for a foul and then in time added on was dismissed for alleged time-wasting when he was clearly was taking the ball from his manager for a throw-in, after Tuttle had taken it from another Lion.

The draw helped Millwall far more than it did anything for Town's play-off aspirations and even though they have now lost just once in 11 games, the Blues have left themselves too much of a mountain to climb now.

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