A tale of two Towns

I'M thinking of asking for a pay rise because I seem to be covering two teams this season.They are both called Ipswich Town, they have the same players but for some bizarre reason they are two different sides home and away.

By Derek Davis

I'M thinking of asking for a pay rise because I seem to be covering two teams this season.

They are both called Ipswich Town, they have the same players but for some bizarre reason they are two different sides home and away.

The home team is a joy to cover. Outstanding attacking football that produces chance after chance, which are generally taken and everything is rosy.

Everything they touch seems to turn to goals and Lady Luck is on their side even when the visitors have the temerity to score, or win penalties and they find ways of plucking wins from nothing.

But the away team is inexplicably a different animal.

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If I could pinpoint the reason why they have not won in 13 attempts then I would probably get the England job but there appears to be no rhyme nor reason to it.

The team at Cardiff wore the white shirts of Ipswich but were not recognisable as the same side, apart from Gavin Williams playing on the left side, as the one that walloped Bristol City for six.

They started in the same way with Alan Lee pouncing on a mistake by Darren Purse inside 20 seconds.

The Blues' leading scorer, and top-rated striker in the Championship according to the Actim Index, guided his shot past the huge Kasper Schmeichel but the ball hit the underside of the bar before rebounding off a post and away to safety.

Apart from one weak Lee shot, that was to be Town's only effort on goal until six minutes before the end when Tommy Lee drilled a loose ball goalwards but hit Paul Parry on the goal-line.

Parry was City's most inspirational player as he pushed and probed down the right flank and kept Dan Harding on his toes.

For the most part the Town defender kept Parry in check and even when the winger was supported by Wales Under-21 international Chris Gunter, the Blues back line coped admirably.

That was until Town lost control of a throw-in on the half-way line and Steve Thompson sprung midfielder Gavin Rae with a clever back-heel flick.

Rae strode purposefully and unchecked forward and had time to pick out Parry on his right. The Cardiff winger feinted slightly to go on Harding's outside but checked inside before hitting a wonderful curling shot from 25 yards that gave Neil Alexander little chance.

That cameo encapsulated Town's problem away from home.

Because City were pressing and took better care of the ball, Ipswich never got their game going and even in the second half when they had more possession they were not convincing in attack.

The Blues struggle when the opposition press and keep the ball and City in the first half took control of the centre of the park and were able to get plenty of balls into the box.

Defensively Ipswich coped, with Alexander only having a couple of shots to deal with. There was a penalty shout from Glenn Loovens, but it was denied and ended up with the defender being booked.

Town's challenge in the second half was to break down a side who were playing their best football of the season for a manager they clearly want to keep in a job.

Even Alex Bruce felt confident enough to leave his post at the back to make a surging strong run through the middle and played a one-two with Danny Haynes before crossing with the keeper grabbing the ball.

It wasn't a terrible display from Town but it did not compare with how they perform at Portman Road and unless they find a way of becoming as one, home and away, they will miss out on a top-six finish.

The confidence didn't surge through the team and even the hardy travelling support were unusually mute, as they watched their side struggle to get to grips against a side that started the day fifth from bottom.

How these struggling sides must love Ipswich coming to their home and gifting them points. QPR, Norwich and Cardiff were all at the wrong end of the table when the Blues visited and made them look half decent.

The worrying thing is even the manger admits to being clueless about how to put things right. The players say they need to take responsibility but rhetoric is not enough.

They know the home side will go at them and will be more adventurous but Ipswich's strength is to take the initiative and their best form of defence is attack.

The Portman Road team do it well. Now the travelling team needs to start doing it too if they want to stay among the promotion contenders - although there is probably more chance of Town winning at Bristol City than my boss agreeing a pay rise for covering the two teams!

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