Ipswich are left to face the music

A LACK of passion and desire, the inability to do the basics right in defence and attack and apologists lining up to blame everything and everyone else for a woeful display.

By Derek Davis

A LACK of passion and desire, the inability to do the basics right in defence and attack and apologists lining up to blame everything and everyone else for a woeful display.

Welcome to the Ipswich Town we all know and love.

Two good results, not necessarily good performances, and all of a sudden the club think they are world beaters, with a divine right to march up the division and be ready for Premiership football, if not next season, then certainly the one after.


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But, in truth, this Town team are only ever 90 minutes away from defeat.

They have shown all season that they lack consistency, have a habit of imploding and there are players, not all, who are quick to point fingers but don't back it up on the pitch.

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There is nothing wrong with self-belief, and there are plenty of good things about this Ipswich side, but as soon as they forget about doing what they do well, and keeping the work ethic, then it goes wrong all too quickly.

When the manager accuses the side of not showing enough passion in a derby match, then you know something is not right.

The Blues fans had every right to turn up and expect better from their team, against a side that are fighting for survival but had not won in four games and their last victory at Portman Road was 57 years ago.

Instead, they were subjected to a defeat that left 2,100 travelling Shrimpers believing they can climb out of trouble and be in the Championship to face the likes of West Ham next season.

Those looking for excuses may point at referee Martin Atkinson, who refused two penalty appeals, and dismissed Alan Lee following two cautions.

He also allowed a bizarre opening goal to stand, despite protests by Town players that Efe Sodje was returning from an offside position and blocked Lewis Price's view as Mark Gower's speculative low drive from wide on the Southend left continued unmolested inside the far post and in.

But the poor state of the pitch, and Lee's propensity to go down too easily, meant Peter Clarke was given the benefit of the doubt as he went in for the tackle and the striker's foot appeared to slip away from under him.

As Lee ranted, Southend broke and scored their opener, with Alex Bruce looking to have played Sodje on and his hand-on-hips stare at the statuesque Price told its own sorry story.

Lee's protests earned him a first yellow card and, when he later handled the ball while jumping with Darryl Flahavan - Maradona-style - with 12 minutes still to play, his contribution was over.

How strained his relationship with the manager has become will probably be found out for certain in the summer, but it is looking increasingly likely that he won't be part of the big plans for the new campaign.

He probably won't be the only one heading out, as Town allowed yet another slapstick goal in from a set play.

Dan Harding was rash in a challenge on Simon Francis and Kevin Maher's free-kick was flicked on by Francis and fellow defender Clarke was on hand to nudge in unchallenged from six yards.

Ipswich stirred themselves at half-time, with teenagers Owen Garvan and Danny Haynes giving a good impression that they at least cared, and both hit a post.

Fine saves by Flahavan from Garvan and Haynes ensured the clean sheet while, at the other end, Sodje headed in but had the goal ruled out for a push elsewhere, while Price stood firm to deny Freddy Eastwood.

Ipswich had another shout for a penalty when Sodje appeared to foul David Wright just inside the box but appeals were as half-hearted as the overall performance.

Chairman David Sheepshanks missed the abject display as he is relaxing in the Far East but those hoping for his, or the manager's, head will have to wait quite a bit longer yet, with no plans for any changes at the top.

Magilton will be given until next season to get things right and launch a credible and sustained challenge on Premiership promotion which, in turn, will bring financial relief to those in the boardroom who maintain the club is heading in the right direction.

So confident were Ipswich of scoring against the second-from-bottom-club, that they had planned to change the celebration music when they netted from Tom Harks by the Piranhas to Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis

Instead, they were inflicted a dagger to the heart by the Shrimpers who, basically, had far more fight.

It would be typical of Ipswich to go to play-off contenders Preston tomorrow night and give a good account of themselves and, perhaps, even nick a point or three, as Hull managed on Saturday against the Lilywhites, but the likelihood is, even if they did, they would soon be letting everyone down again soon afterwards.

It may not be intentional, it may not be what the players want to happen but, sadly, it is what we have come to expect and that has to change.

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