Double for Pablo

APPARENTLY the Spanish for garbage is "basura" and goal is "meta". So man of the match Pablo Counago was happier to talk about his metas rather than the basura offered up for much of the match, especially the first 45 minutes, writes Derek Davis.

APPARENTLY the Spanish for garbage is "basura" and goal is "meta". So man of the match Pablo Counago was happier to talk about his metas rather than the basura offered up for much of the match, especially the first 45 minutes, writes Derek Davis.

The Spaniard split the teams with his double strike, his first in open play this season and the other, controversially from the penalty spot for the third time this season. Martin Butler steered a header in for a Rotherham equaliser and such is the nervousness around Portman Road at the moment an ominous sense of "here we go again" spread around the stadium.

The first half was truly dreadful and you just knew the second half had to get better but few could have been prepared for the controversy that followed. Mind you, Billericay ref Andy D'Urso is not new to dubious decisions and Ipswich fans will remember how he sent off John McGreal at Chelsea after he complained about a penalty decision given, many felt wrongly, against Fabian Wilnis.

This time D'Urso showed his consistency by managing to get three penalty decisions wrong. The first when Chris Swailes, the former Town centre-back, buckled Counago's knee, was not given. Then when Chris Sedgwick appeared to clear cleanly from Chris Bart-Williams, the spot kick was surprisingly awarded. Counago calmly sent his right-footed low drive to the keeper's left corner of the net in front of the North Stand with Mike Pollitt diving in the opposite direction.

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Rotherham were left feeling even more aggrieved when Georges Santos stumbled into the back of Darren Byfield as he was goal-bound but the official claimed the Frenchman had won the ball, although he gave a goal-kick. Not many would have argued had he awarded another penalty.

But there were no complaints about the two late sending-offs.

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Millers' skipper Martin McIntosh had been run ragged by Counago all afternoon and had earlier been booked for a foul on the slippery Spaniard. With 12 minutes to go he clattered into the back of Counago and D'Urso had no option but to flash a second yellow. And Julien Baudet's understandable anger was no excuse for his loss of control to see a straight red with five minutes left.

Alan Mahon had caught the Frenchman with a lunging tackle but as he offered a hand of apology, Baudet shook him by the throat instead and after going down again and receiving treatment on a shin injury was sent off. Meanwhile, Mahon picked up his fourth booking of his loan period.

Counago had given Ipswich the lead nine minutes after the break when he rose superbly among the Rotherham big men to guide in a Magilton corner. Rotherham clawed level when Sedgwick skipped down the right flank beyond Matt Richards to deliver a deep cross. Paul Warne hit a difficult volley and Butler, their £150,000 buy from Reading, steered the ball in off his head, although it is debatable whether he knew much about it.

Such excitement somewhat masked an otherwise disappointing game but unlike ice-skating, where points are added for technical merit, three points is what you get, no matter how you earn them. So who cares at the moment? Town have been skating on thin ice but four wins out of five in the league offers a rosier picture, and with Bradford and Burnley to come a hopeful near-future too.

There is little doubt Town deserved to win but perhaps the manner was not too endearing. The defence looked a lot firmer dealing with crosses, but too many came in from wide. Mahon is a breath of fresh air with his willingness to take players on and his passing.

One first half in-swinging corner skimmed the crossbar, while another at the near post was headed wide by the impressive Richard Naylor. But Mahon is not the best defensively, especially when Town went 4-3-3 after the break. That exposed Richards somewhat and more than one team have had joy down Town's left flank. The right side looks tighter with Fabian Wilnis, especially when Shefki Kuqi is prepared to work so hard at tracking back when he has lost the ball.

For a moment it looked as if Bart-Williams was not going to return after a rib injury just before the break. He recovered but again offered little in the midfield, except some stability in front of the back four at times. Jermaine Wright was buzzing everywhere and helping to feed Magilton, who in turn pulled and probed the Millermen. He might have done better in front of goal after Counago fed him a good ball and he was not far away with a cheeky effort with Mike Pollitt out of his area.

The Spaniard could have completed his hat-trick when he back-heeled a Magilton cross in the first half and a Richards cross in the second but it skimmed across goal and wide.

He also had early efforts blocked by Rob Scott as he wriggled into the area.

Counago will have taken a lot from the result and his brace and won't care if it was, in the main, "basura".

Nor will the fans – Town are pushing up the table and that is what ultimately matters.

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