Ipswich pulling in right direction

IN one simple act, skipper Jim Magilton encapsulated everything which shows Ipswich are united as one and heading in the right direction, writes Derek Davis.

IN one simple act, skipper Jim Magilton encapsulated everything which shows Ipswich are united as one and heading in the right direction, writes Derek Davis.

Substitute Dean Bowditch had barely picked himself up after fellow teenager Malvin Kamara had fouled just inside the penalty box before Magilton scooped up the ball and handed it to Pablo Counago.

Just as their first win of the season against Walsall had been the platform for the victory against another struggling side in Wimbledon, Magilton realised how much of a boost a goal would help the struggling Spaniard. Counago duly converted by sending Steve Banks the wrong way and Town celebrated climbing another couple of places up the table away from the basement.

There would have been no shortage of takers – if necessary, Bowditch would have loved to get his first league goal; man of the match Alan Mahon was on hand looking longingly on but Magilton epitomised the team spirit, and the gesture was backed unanimously.

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The game also encapsulated everything that is Ipswich at the moment. They can score and miss chances in equal measure. The defence can swing from solid to erratic in a flash, while the midfield can be bold and boring from one 10-minute period to the next.

On this occasion it was the flashes of excellence that showed most.

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Alun Armstrong, Richard Naylor and Darren Bent, had all doubled their goal tallies for the season as the Blues consigned hapless Dons to a club-record-equalling eighth straight defeat. While it is fair to say it was only Wimbledon, and a poor Wimbledon side at that, Ipswich produced a thoroughly professional, if somewhat nervy at times, performance.

More importantly they showed they can take their chances.

In the twice-capped Republic of Ireland international Mahon, Town now have a genuine left-sided player capable of delivering the ball into danger areas – a player they have not had since Jamie Clapham. The on-loan winger from Blackburn took full advantage of the space allowed by Kamara and Co to send in a perfect cross midway through the first half for the alert Armstrong to stoop and plant into a bottom corner.

The goal broke the Dons' spirit after Stuart Murdoch's young side had shown plenty of attacking intent early on.

Matt Richards had his hands full dealing with Jobi McAnuff, while Patrick Agyemang as the lone striker worried French central defensive duo Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos.

Their accidental coming together after just a quarter of an hour left Diallo limping and he eventually he had to retire hurt allowing Richard Naylor the chance to return and make his mark.

He did that by bundling in the Blues second, this time after a short corner between Mahon and Magilton with the loanee crossing deep for Bent to head back. Armstrong got a slight touch and the converted centre half showed he is still deadly from six inches by kneeing the ball in.

Town should have gone on to extend their first-half lead, Mahon hitting a shot on the run over the bar and Bent completely miscuing an excellent, low Richards cross.

Naylor ensured McAnuff stayed quiet with a crunching late tackle which earned him a booking and then played a massive part in reviving the Dons' hopes after a mix-up with Santos and Davis which allowed Agyemang in for a simple finish just on half-time.

The timely warning reminded Ipswich there was still much to do, in this game and the future, in terms of concentration, communication and clinical finishing.

Mahon's commitment was awesome and he provided the low cross for the third which evaded Counago but went to Bent waiting at the far post to side-foot in.

Magilton hit the crossbar and Counago's frustration was showing as he hit a post with a low drive and worked so hard to get his goal.

The fact it came thanks to his captain will not matter.

Counago is on his way and so, hopefully, are Ipswich. While, unlike in years gone by, they have struggled to beat the top sides, they are now putting the lesser lights to the sword, and while that may not win promotion it will end all silly talk of relegation.

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