Ipswich have come a long way already

IF this is truly a yardstick of how far Ipswich have come, and how far they still have to go, then Town fans have much to be delighted and optimistic about.

By Derek Davis

IF this is truly a yardstick of how far Ipswich have come, and how far they still have to go, then Town fans have much to be delighted and optimistic about.

The manner in which Ipswich went about their business was exciting, refreshing and about as opposite to what was served up in the first three weeks of August and there is a genuine feeling they can be even better.

Make no mistake, Jim Magilton's side deserved to end Birmingham's 100% home record and could so easily have taken all three points.

It was with the luck that got them past Southampton but with a mix of the fighting qualities and up-tempo slick football that beat QPR and Coventry and has given them an unbeaten five-game run in the league.

Before and after Alan Lee and then Simon Walton had given Town the lead, Ipswich had enough chances to win comfortably but will rue the two mistakes that proved so painful.

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It all stared with disruption and no little concern.

Although Fabian Wilnis was named on the team sheet, Sito started at right-back after the Dutchman was forced to pull out 15 minutes before kick-off because he felt his thigh strain once again and did not want to let the team down.

That meant a late shout for Spaniard Sito and the little defender answered the call with a terrific contribution.

He, as much as anyone, dug in during the first 20 minutes as Birmingham pounded Ipswich. Sito even cleared a Radhi Jaidi header off the line with a header of his own. Who says he can't defend in the air?

Cameron Jerome nodded a chance over the bar and that was about as much joy as he got out of Town's central defence, with Jason De Vos in particular bottling up the £3m man, while his partner Richard Naylor pretty much snuffed out DJ Campbell.

Town absorbed that early pressure and then inch-by-inch clawed their way back into the match. Their approach work was cleverly executed as they started to boss the midfield and the City defence looked increasingly uncomfortable.

Gavin Williams once again looked busily effective, although he hit a 25-yarder straight at Maik Taylor who held the ball, but Williams looked to be carrying an injury and was replaced at half-time by the effervescent Darren Currie.

Mark Noble produced a wonderful piece of skill to chip over Gary McSheffrey and carry on his run but the shot was comfortable for Taylor. It was a frustrating afternoon for the West Ham loanee who had a great chance at the far post to bury an exquisite Currie diagonal ball but squandered the opportunity.

He was also inches away from reaching a tailor-made low cross by Lee who had gone past substitute Martin Taylor down the right flank but Bruno N'Gotty got there just before him.

Frenchman Sylvain Legwinski showed glimpses of his Premiership class as he sat in front of the back four mopping up. His ability to read the game saw him step in front of more than one City midfielder to break up play and get Town going.

The former Fulham man even had a crack from long range but again Taylor was well positioned.

Showing increasing confidence, Town stepped it up in the second half and a fired-up Lee, who had earlier laid out Jaidi as he nodded a Sito cross over the bar, opened the scoring.

The big bustling forward was quickest to react after David Dunn miscontrolled as he tried to bring down Naylor's looping header on his thigh and Lee spun expertly to volley in from a tight angle for his first of the season.

Lee might have had a second after Jon Macken picked him out but wanted too much time and Taylor was able to clear.

City still threatened and equalised through the sharpness of Campbell. Lewis Price had spilled a bread and butter McSheffrey shot in the first half and Naylor hurriedly cleared. It was to be an ominous warning of what was to come.

The Wales keeper failed to keep hold of a Dunn drive that bounced off his chest and straight into the path of the former Yeading striker.

It was shame for Price who had made a good, brave save at the feet of Mikael Forssell but he could find the mistakes costly with Shane Supple waiting in the wings.

It looked like Simon Walton, playing with a gashed ankle, might save the day when N'Gotty deflected his 20-yard shot in. It also saw the Frenchman dismissed for lashing out at an ecstatic Lee whose pressure had helped in the build up - so much for Fair Play day.

But 10-man City salvaged a point when Sito was sucked into fouling McSheffrey and was booked. Substitute Billy Clarke lost Dunn and although De Vos blocked the former international's first shot, his second found its way through the crowd for a second equaliser.

It was tough on Town who would have happily settled for a point before the game but they were better than many believed they could be and deserved more.

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