Hard-earned victory for Town

APART from Jermaine Wright's goal, which was out of this world, the most pleasing aspect of this game was the way Ipswich never panicked and ground out the win, writes Derek Davis.

APART from Jermaine Wright's goal, which was out of this world, the most pleasing aspect of this game was the way Ipswich never panicked and ground out the win, writes Derek Davis.

Joe Royle earned his corn at the break, making two astute changes in personnel, and Ipswich showed their adaptability by switching styles to get a result.

The 3-1 scoreline was perhaps flattering inasmuch as Rotherham deserved to take something out of the game.

But after getting the upper hand in the first half, the Millers could not live with a more direct, determined Ipswich.

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Although Town had plenty of the ball in the first 45 minutes, they never really penetrated. Dean Bowditch was making many slippery and clever runs but usually away from goal and away from danger.

Town had little width, none whatsoever on the right, with Fabian Wilnis dropped in favour of the struggling Drissa Diallo, and it was no surprise he was taken off at half-time.

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Tommy Miller ploughed a lonely furrow on that side, drawing on either Darren Bent or Bowditch to help out. The Scotland international-in-waiting flashed a dangerous shot across goal that Mike Pollitt was pleased to see go wide, but other than that the Rotherham keeper was barely troubled at first.

Ian Westlake and Matt Richards caused a bit more bother down the left side but struggled when put on the back foot by a fit-again Chris Sedgwick.

Town had already been served warning as the 23-year-old made a mazy run into the area, but his shot struck team-mate Michael Proctor.

Sedgwick did it again two minutes after being heavily fouled by Westlake, who was booked for his trouble.

Westlake lost out the second time they tangled, and this time Sedgwick weaved his way into the area, swerved inside Richards, ghosted past John McGreal and hit a low left-foot shot by Kelvin Davis before Matt Elliott could get a tackle in.

Referee David Pugh, who has not awarded a penalty all season, turned down three appeals, two from Rotherham.

Bowditch appeared to be pulled down by Shaun Barker, but that was waved away.

Proctor and Elliott collided and the Millers were adamant it was a foul, but it looked more like a coming-together.

And in the second half John Mullin went down under a Shefki Kuqi challenge which many officials would probably have given.

Half-time allowed Royle to replace Diallo and Bowditch with Martijn Reuser and Kuqi, with Wright dropping into the right-back position.

The half-time talk was clearly don't panic and keep passing and moving and Rotherham will yield.

In fact, it took something a bit special to demoralise the Millers, who certainly looked better than their position suggests.

Richards looked up from wide on the left and lofted a ball to the unmarked Wright. He showed perfect technique and ability to catch the volley with his right foot, 30-yards out, with such velocity Pollitt could only gaze in amazement as it thundered into the top left corner of his goal.

Rotherham would still not roll over and Proctor twice got through Town's still flimsy defence, but each time his shot bounced back from Davis's right-hand post.

The Town keeper had not been too busy but showed his alertness and agility to tip over an unmarked Martin Butler header from an Andy Monkhouse cross.

Reuser and Kuqi had an impact on the game, although the Dutchman was off target with a couple of free kicks.

He was on target, though, with two superb through-balls for Bent, who was offside the first time he beat Pollitt.

Not the second time though, when he raced onto Reuser's chip and calmly struck his low shot between Pollitt's legs as he jumped in anticipation of a lobbed shot.

That was enough to send the 1,500 travelling Town fans in the stand behind that goal into delirium.

A win at Rotherham, revenge for the defeat this time last year that severely dented their play-off chances.

But more was to come as Reuser won a header, Kuqi cut in from the left flank and kept his composure to side-foot low into the net.

That could prove vital if it comes down to goal difference.

In the end there were many good things about this match. McGreal recovered from an ankle injury to declare himself fit, but struggled at times and will need to be sharper if he plays today.

But perhaps the most pleasing thing was the inner-strength Town showed and the resilience they displayed against a rugged side fighting for survival.

The watching Mick McCarthy will have left Millmoor not knowing quite what to expect today, but if Town can put in a similar second half, with a tighter, more focused defence, even the impressive Black Cats will struggle to contain the best attacking side in the division.

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