Away-day mystery Blues have to solve

CALL in Poirot, Miss Marple and John Rebus because this is a mystery as baffling as any fictional plot.Just how can Town look so blooming good at home yet get stuffed again so badly away?Even those great detectives would not solve the problem, so it is down to Jim Magilton and his players.

By Derek Davis

CALL in Poirot, Miss Marple and John Rebus because this is a mystery as baffling as any fictional plot.

Just how can Town look so blooming good at home yet get stuffed again so badly away?

Even those great detectives would not solve the problem, so it is down to Jim Magilton and his players.

Those that don't travel to watch the team must think some massive transformation takes place on the A14/A12 and perhaps it does.

The truth is Town don't play that badly away for the most part. There are times when they are way above the opposition but all those that fly into the net at Portman Road, as if by some magical magnet, are repelled from the goal on the road as if the magnet has been reversed.

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For the first 10 minutes it looked as if there was going to be just one winner at the KC Stadium - and it wouldn't be Hull. But we should know better.

Just because Ipswich pounded the City goal in front of the hardy and long-suffering Blues away-day support, it doesn't automatically mean they are not going to self-destruct.

Boaz Myhill made an excellent save with his legs from Gary Roberts and then watched helplessly as Owen Garvan and Tommy Miller both hit posts and Jon Walters was also denied.

Pablo Counago was pulling all the strings just outside the box, slipping balls in for Walters, who was toasting Andy Dawson, brother of England defender Michael.

But, for all their good play and bright attacking football, Ipswich suffered, like the missing David Wright with an infected blister on a heel, from their own Achilles heel.

Worryingly, two of the first half Hull goals stemmed from corners. The first was played short and Jay Jay Okocha put in the perfect cross for the unmarked Henrik Pedersen to head in on his first league start for City.

Still Ipswich gave it a go, although they lacked any real enterprise as the confidence seemed to drain away and the Nigerian wizard Okocha was loving all the time and space he was allowed.

He pulled out all the tricks, which were not just for show but had the effect of bewildering the Blues.

But it was a simple ball from the ex-Bolton star that led to Hull, and Pedersen's second goal.

Dean Windass picked it up and played a pass through for the Dane, who got away from Alex Bruce and finished with a rasping left-foot shoot low past Neil Alexander.

Neither Town player will be pleased with their part in the goal.

Chris Casement has the excuse of youth and inexperience, plus was playing his first full game for Town. He was clearly being targeted by City and didn't get a great deal of help from his midfield or fellow defenders.

When the ball was crossed from Casement's side after another short corner, Wayne Brown deftly flicked his header goalwards and it went in off the inside of the post with the statuesque Town defence open-mouthed in despair.

Pedersen was denied a hat-trick by a Bruce block after more trickery from Okocha, while Richard Garcia was wasteful in front of goal.

Dan Harding pulled one back with a thunderous left-foot drive after the ball was half cleared to him 25 yards out to give Town a glimmer of hope.

Certainly, Hull could barely believe their good fortune as they went in at half-time, as they were never a two-goal better side than Town.

But they had enough about them to take the sting out of the match in the second half that never reached the entertaining heights of the first, while Ipswich looked bereft of ideas and belief.

They lacked the drive and leadership needed to mount a comeback, as all those that shone so early simply disappeared.

Hull threatened to rub it in further in the second half but substitute Bryan Hughes and Okocha were denied.

The sad statistics of just one point from a possible 12 this season and a failure to win away since at Luton last March, hide the fact that a buoyant Town can play good football away from home. But it seems, if they don't score early, then the confidence and energy disappears too quickly.

Counago rightly said last week that they should not get obsessed about away form and he is right, as a couple of wins will mend all. How they get that is something else but, for all the rhetoric and bravado. there needs to be action.

Only the players, and a rub of the green perhaps, will put that right.

All the frailties, so well hidden at home, are ruthlessly exposed away and, while Magilton would love to carry out his threat and make changes, his options are pretty limited at the moment.

There does not appear to be real strength in depth for him to call on and the balance and chemistry of the side all too often looks frail.

He doesn't have a Poirot or Miss Marple to call upon, so he will have to rely on old-fashioned guts and determination from his players who must now show they can meet this challenge - starting tomorrow at Burnley.

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