Hornets sting Town

Ipswich 1 Watford 2UNHAPPY, but not distressed.That is how Blues boss Joe Royle summed up his feelings after seeing his side swarm all over the Hornets.

Ipswich 1 Watford 2

UNHAPPY, but not distressed.

That is how Blues boss Joe Royle summed up his feelings after seeing his side swarm all over the Hornets.

Despite being by far the better side, Town were twice hit on the break with goals from Jay Demerit and Bruce Dyer before Tommy Miller raised hopes with a late penalty.

Royle was at a loss to understand how Town lost a game they ran. He didn't just apportion blame on his misfiring strikers but had a swipe at his flimsy defence.

He said: "We didn't play badly, it was just one of those nights. We could have scored six, we have hit the bar and missed chances from zero range.

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"I can't say it was bad performance, although I'm not kidding myself that we were anywhere near our best for 90 minutes, but we didn't deserve to lose.

"One or two players were not at their best. We have missed chances but also I'm not happy with our defending.

"We have a big back four now and I don't like to see players get free headers against us."

With Wigan at Coventry tonight, Ipswich could slip from the top spot they have held since December 21, when they beat the Latics.

Sunderland kept the pressure on the top two by beating Rotherham 4-1 at the Stadium of Light.

"We start again at home on Saturday with a big game. I'm aware people will create a crisis after another home defeat but there is no panic.

"If the performance was bad, I might be more concerned but I felt that was the best we have played for a while.

"By my reckoning, they have scored two goals from three attempts so their ratio is very good. We could have had two players fighting to take the match ball home.

"Tommy could have had a hat-trick and Benty might have had two hat-tricks. It happens in football, the ball is round and that is what happens. I'm unhappy we lost but not distressed."

Royle backed Bent to get back in among the goals, after the England Under-21 had appalling luck in front of goal and hit the crossbar when he did beat Paul Jones.

He said: "He needs a goal and something to go for him. He looked sharp, particularly in the second half. He slid one wide which would have gone in a month ago and has hit the bar.

"I'm more annoyed that he tried to shoot when Darren Currie was in acres of space but that happens."

Watford boss Ray Lewington still fancies Ipswich to go up automatically and warned: "They are the best side in this division at cutting you open. They used to leak a lot more goals but I feel they have improved there too.

"I can see Sunderland and Ipswich going up but you can never discount Wigan."

James Scowcroft, making his 250th appearance for Town, was booked for a foul on Dominic Blizzard, which is his fifth yellow card of the season and he will sit out the trip to Wigan on March 5.

Scowcroft admitted being disappointed with the caution but is still angry over last Friday's, which he feels was a fair tackle on Chris Sedgwick.

He said: "The referees seem to be quite alert to me right from the whistle. I felt it was harsh last Friday as well, so it is disappointing to miss out on the Wigan game."

"There is always pressure but it is still only February, with many games to go. Look at Brighton beating Sunderland last weekend, you wouldn't have thought that, so there are many twists to come."

"It was good coming back but it was a frustrating night. We gave away a sloppy goal, which didn't help and, from then on, we were chasing the game.

"We had chances second half and it would have been interesting if we had pulled one back earlier on.

"Benty is a good lad and just needs to carry on doing what he has been doing."

Match report – Pages 40 and 41

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