Finally, a starting point for Magilton
IT may only have been a point against a team as bad as Ipswich but everyone has to start somewhere.For manager Jim Magilton it was a huge relief, after a week of worry following three straight defeats, and the performance was enough to give hope that there is plenty to build on.
By Derek Davis
IT may only have been a point against a team as bad as Ipswich but everyone has to start somewhere.
For manager Jim Magilton it was a huge relief, after a week of worry following three straight defeats, and the performance was enough to give hope that there is plenty to build on.
For the Blues, the first goalless draw in 47 league matches was the result of a rare clean sheet and signs that the defence can be a cohesive unit.
For Hull City, whose manager Phil Parkinson was wanted by the Town board as its new manager, the point was not enough to prevent them having the unenviable record of making their worst start in 102 years, but at least they are out of the bottom three.
Parkinson has undoubtedly got a lot of work to do with his new club but, as we have seen at Colchester, he is more than capable of turning round a team's fortunes.
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Magilton has yet to prove his capabilities but he made some important strides in improving the side with the signing of Mark Noble and Simon Walton, who had only previously played together at young England level.
The newness of the midfield was very apparent for the first half but got better and Noble, in particular, was picking out some good passes.
Having Gavin Williams wide left did not really work and he looked more effective when he came inside. He picked up from Walton, who looked a little off the pace but nevertheless showed a gritty determination and a desire to make tackles and, for an 18-year-old making his bow, plenty of confidence to shout and wave his arms at his new team-mates to exhort more passion.
That rubbed off onto the Portman Road crowd, at below 20,000 the lowest league attendance since April 2000 when Town beat Crystal Palace 1-0, but Magilton praised its noisy support and for leaving any nerves, concerns or prejudices at the gate.
Town were trying to get down the flanks but, for all Jaime Peters' pace, he could not get past the full-backs and managed just one cross in the whole game.
There is no doubting the tiny Canadian's energy and enthusiasm for tackling back and trying to get involved but he was too easily brushed aside and posed little threat.
The biggest worry to City down the flank was Nicky Forster and there were early indications that he and Noble were striking up an understanding.
Defensively Town dug in and even the Championship's top scorer in the morning, Jon Parkin, was not getting much joy.
Lewis Price was picked ahead of Shane Supple but Magilton was quick to point out that it was no reflection on the young Irishman and that he just wanted to give Price a go after looking so sharp in training.
Alex Bruce went in at right-back to give the backline a more solid look and Town deserved a first clean sheet of the new campaign.
The whole game might have worked out differently if Nicky Barmby had connected cleanly with a low cross in front of goal after just 30 seconds.
At the other end, Alan Lee wasted a golden opportunity after good play from Noble freed Forster and he cut inside before delivering a cross for his striker partner who headed over the bar. Those moments set the tone for the mach.
Peters and Lee combined to help Town get a welcome home point when they released Forster, who stayed on his feet under a Michael Turner challenge to get his shot away, but it too sailed over the bar.
There were suggestions that Forster should have gone down and tried to get a penalty but the striker's honesty should be applauded. Furthermore, a video of his attempts to carry on should be shown to all those managers who say they abhor diving and yet go blind when their own players tumble too readily.
Forster also played a return ball for Williams but the midfielder could not get on the end of it and new-boy Walton blazed high.
The second half was a vast improvement for Town, with Hull seemingly content to sit back and absorb the pressure.
The Blues never really troubled Boaz Myhill though, with Lee firing into the side-netting. Only when Danny Haynes and Darren Currie went on did they make the Tigers look uncomfortable.
Haynes' directness had City rocking back and looking stretched, while Currie's undoubted ability at getting the ball into dangerous areas once again posed the sort of problems defenders hate.
Dean Marney was the more profligate of the City forwards. He hit a 30-yard free-kick straight to Price. Marney directed an even better chance straight at the keeper in the second half after Ryan France had carved out a great opening and the Tigers midfielder was dispossessed by the no-nonsense Dan Harding in the penalty area. Craig Fagan pounced on a mistake by Williams and tried to beat Price from 40 yards but the shot drifted over bar.
In the end, it was a much-needed point for both sides. Ipswich now have to ensure they don't get giant-killed at Peterborough tomorrow and then look to ensure they finish the first month of the season with at least one more point by getting something at Queens Park Rangers.
That will give them something more concrete to build on.