Doubts remain despite win

THREE wins in a row has provided the platform for Ipswich to build on, and get into, those crucial play-off places.But if the Blues carry on with their suicidal tendencies at set-pieces then that platform could turn into a gallows of their own making.

THREE wins in a row has provided the platform for Ipswich to build on, and get into, those crucial play-off places, writes Derek Davis.

But if the Blues carry on with their suicidal tendencies at set-pieces then that platform could turn into a gallows of their own making.

Once Ipswich cracked the stubborn Dons back line, twice in as many minutes, the vast majority in the National Hockey Stadium would have been thinking here comes a goal avalanche.

Instead, a standard free kick was floated into the area, Gary Smith marked his full debut by heading home and the locals celebrated as if they had won the FA Cup again.

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Indeed, they had every right to get a little carried away as it was their first goal in eight games, and not one of the 16 players on the team sheet had previously scored this season.

Suddenly from being a beaten side happy to accept their lot, Wimbledon's confidence soared. They were not too far away from snatching a late equaliser when Malvin Kamara flashed a shot that went just wide.

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That would have been a travesty for Town who deserved the three points after waiting patiently for the breakthrough.

Although Wimbledon have conceded 75 goals this season and have been bottom of the division ever since Ipswich beat them 4-1 last September, they are no push-over.

The personnel has changed dramatically, losing five regular first-teamers since January and manager Stuart Murdoch is already planning for next season in Division Two and the players are trying extremely hard.

One of the new boys he has brought in is giant keeper Scott Bevan who is not so much a cat as a fully-grown cougar.

At 6'7'' he is the tallest player in the Football League and the former Southampton stopper needed every inch of that to push away an early half-volley from Darren Bent. He also stood tall to push away a vicious Ian Westlake drive and stretched to clear a Tommy Miller cross-shot.

Darren Bent found a way past him three times, unfortunately two were struck off by referee Rob Styles, who left many observers bewildered with his decision-making.

Styles lost a battle of wills with Miller who went down hurt after being fouled which the referee ignored.

Miller wanted treatment, Styles clearly thought he was play-acting and refused to allow physio Dave William on to the pitch.

Wimbledon were awarded a free kick but still Styles refused to budge and Miller stayed down, so the Wimbledon players sportingly knocked the ball into touch. Eventually Miller was allowed treatment but it appeared from the moment he was allowed back on he was in Styles' bad books and inevitably he received a caution.

When the Portsmouth official, still remembered for awarding a dubious penalty for Manchester United which effectively relegated Town, finally gave something Town's way the reaction of the Town bench was sarcastic applause.

It turned out not to matter in terms of the result but he twice ruled out Bent 'goals'.

The first may have been offside but not to allow the second half tap in after the ball came back to Bent when Miller thundered a shot against the crossbar, was baffling.

Bent found success when he raced on to a clever Jermaine Wright chipped pass forward and the England Under-21 striker drilled the ball low past Bevan.

There was still 18 minutes to go at that point and things got better a minute later when substitute Shefki Kuqi nabbed a second.

Miller released Dean Bowditch who raced down the right side of the area before crossing low for the Finland international to smartly clip the ball in with the inside of a heel.

But hopes of improving the flagging goal difference were dashed by Town's inability to defend.

Enough has been said about the frailties and it really is time that actions speak louder than words.

Seven 1-0 wins will probably be enough to secure a top-six place but if a point or two are dropped it could go to goal difference.

It would be a travesty for the division's leading scorers if they were to miss out due to their inability to keep a clean sheet. It would be somewhat ironic too as David Sheepshanks was the man who pressed for a return to goal difference rather than goals scored as separating two tied teams. Town's victory consigned Wimbledon to their 11th straight defeat and means they have not won in the league for 19 games stretching back to last November.

An impressive 3,529 Ipswich fans made up more than half of the 6,389 crowd, the largest since Wimbledon's first game at the National Hockey Stadium way back in September.

But while they will have been happy enough to have seen Town win their third straight game, all against teams beginning with W, there will be a certain amount of nervousness before the fourth big W – West Brom on Sunday.

Town's quality is unquestioned but their application at times lets them down and the concentration needed at this level was again lacking to allow a plucky young Wimbledon side to get back into the game.

The Blues know they will have to raise their game if they are going to get wins over fellow top-six sides West Bromwich, Sunderland and Sheffield United in the coming weeks.

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