Gritty Ipswich make their point

PRETTY it wasn't but it was a point well won.The only thing missing was a goal and with a bit more guile or a touch of good fortune, that would have come to.

By Derek Davis

PRETTY it wasn't but it was a point well won.

The only thing missing was a goal and with a bit more guile or a touch of good fortune, that would have come to.

Instead this was a determined effort from the entire Ipswich Town team not to allow Stoke a foothold in the game and to a man, from debut-making Jon Walters up front, to Wales keeper Lewis Price, Ipswich defended superbly.

Ipswich have won just once in nine trips to Stoke City and have only ever taken one point in the Britannia Stadium, so they deserved the standing ovation given to them by the hardy 200 or so Blues fans at the end.

Manager Jim Magilton has demanded this sort of attitude and commitment ever since he took charge and this was probably as close to it that he has got from his players so far.

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The Gentle Revolution has taken time to evolve but the signs are becoming more and more obvious, in no small way due to the new boys bringing a fresh approach.

Walters in white boots didn't get a lot of service to make a huge impression as Town used him as a lone striker.

Alan Lee failed a morning fitness test on a tight hamstring so the £150,000 signing from Chester was handed his debut.

The 23-year-old revealed to the EADT how he was desperate to make up for time lost in his earlier career, which has been blighted by bad luck.

His daughter Scarlett was born with her intestines outside her stomach but after months of hospital treatment and surgery she is now fine.

Walters almost made a dream start as he was close to getting off the mark inside two minutes when Gavin Williams fed Gary Roberts wide left and he put in a tantalising low cross.

Although Carl Hoefkens looked to have got back Walters got a touch and keeper Steve Simonsen had to scramble across goal before saving on the line.

Midway through the first half Walters forced an excellent save from Simonsen after getting a good header to a Roberts cross.

Although Ipswich strung five across the middle in an effort to stymie Stoke, the Potters did manage to create some half-decent early chances.

Another recent signing David Wright made an excellent block to deny Ricardo Fuller, who had got past Wilnis.

The Jamaican who enjoyed an eventful loan spell with Ipswich last season, also went close with a terrific turn and volley while his striker partner Mamady Sidibe beat Price to a Lawrence cross but his header went inches wide.

Wilnis, who made his 300th Town appearance last Saturday, skippered the side in Richard Naylor's absence due to a bruised toe.

The makeshift defence forced upon Town through injuries to Naylor and skipper Jason De Vos and a suspension to Alex Bruce did an outstanding job against dangerous opponents.

Town had a claim for a penalty in each half without any joy.

Dan Harding was tugged back by Salif Diao and went down easily in the box but the referee was not interested, but nor did he caution the Town player for diving.

Roberts thought Belgian Hoefkens had blocked his shot with a hand but the ref was close to the action and waved play on.

Lawrence shot over from a 30-yard free kick but the miss of the game came 15 minutes from the end when Sidibe hammered over from six yards as he met a Martin cross.

Sito Castro made a sublime save off the line using his chest to block a Danny Higginbotham header from one of many City corners.

As the game wore on Town looked more positive and George O'Callaghan replaced Gavin Williams. His arrival was met by a chorus of boos from City supporters due to his earlier days as a Port Vale player.

The £60,000 signing from Cork City was only on the pitch for 10 minutes before getting booked for a full-blooded challenge on Darel Russell.

Owen Garvan was also booked for making sure a Stoke attack didn't develop as Ipswich showed a marvellous determination to keep a clean sheet.

Ipswich wore their away strip of white tops and navy shorts as their usual blue and white would have clashed with Stoke's white shorts.

It was a life-time ambition achieved for eight-year-old Eleanor Catchpole last night as the St Edmundsbury Primary School pupil travelled to the Britannia Stadium to be Ipswich Town's mascot.

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