Fans urged not to give up hope

DON'T give up hope.That is the message to Blues fans from manager and players after Ipswich Town gave up a first half-lead to slump to an injury time defeat at home to championship-chasing West Bromwich Albion yesterday, writes Derek Davis.

DON'T give up hope.

That is the message to Blues fans from manager and players after Ipswich Town gave up a first half-lead to slump to an injury time defeat at home to championship-chasing West Bromwich Albion yesterday, writes Derek Davis.

Tommy Miller fired the Blues ahead but substitutes Jason Koumas and Lloyd Dyer hit back for the Baggies. Darren Bent looked to have secured a point but a controversial West Brom winner by Geoff Horsfield consigned Town to their seventh home defeat of the season and gave Albion their fifth win in a row.

While West Brom stay neck-and-neck on points with Norwich City at the top of the table, the Blues have slipped to ninth. With six games to go Ipswich are still just three points behind third-placed Sunderland and a point behind sixth-placed Sheffield United, and have both teams left to play.


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Town boss Joe Royle last night said: "We are still very close and I still feel we can make it. We are just three points off that third place and with six games left we still have a chance of winning as many as we can to get into the play-offs and third place is still a realistic target. The top two are gone. I'm not having a dig at either because both are very hard to beat.

"West Brom dug deep and Norwich keep a good shape.

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"But neither can play at a level that we can, although both can defend at a level higher than we can."

Goal hero Miller added: "We have done it before. We went on a three- game winning run after losing at home to Millwall and we have to do it again. We will pick ourselves up as we have done before this season and we know we can still make the play-offs."

Teenage sensation Dean Bowditch said: "We still have more than a good chance of getting into the play-offs and going up. We have to keep it going for the last half-dozen games. We are going to need everyone to get behind us. The fans, the staff, and us players, who will be working on the training pitches. We are all in it together."

Bowditch also praised the supporters for providing one of the best atmospheres at Portman Road for some time yesterday. He said: "I felt bad for the fans because we didn't deserve [to lose] and it really hurt. The fans were great and really got behind us even when we went 2-1 down and it does make a difference to us."

Town suffered another blow when Ian Westlake was injured in a challenge. He is rated doubtful for making Saturday's trip to Rotherham with an ankle and knee problem.

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