Bleak display fuels summertime blues

MORE worrying than the bleak statistic of no points at home from a possible six is the apparent lack of progress Ipswich have made in the past two years.

Derek Davis

MORE worrying than the bleak statistic of no points at home from a possible six is the apparent lack of progress Ipswich have made in the past two years.

Of course it is far too early after just three games to take any notice of the table, for 15th place is where Joe Royle left the team and it is where the Blues sit today.

Judging by the performances against Preston and now Wolves, and indeed for the first half hour at Burnley Ipswich don't look that good a side.

The defence still leaks goals too readily, the midfield struggles to get the ball back and while it can creative when in possession they rarely dominate.

Up front the goals can flow on a good day, but there is a lack of presence from the first line of defence.

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After spending the best part of £3m in the summer and signing six new players to go with the three he secured in January, Jim Magilton's side has yet to show it is of sufficient quality to get into the Promised Land of the Premier League.

His team selection and tactics will be picked over and there will inevitably be a groundswell of opinion that will turn against the manager and there was booing at the end of both halves

Owner Marcus Evans was not at the game, although he did watch the Preston defeat, and it will be interesting to see how long he stays patient, although he is ultimately responsible for the buying and selling of players.

Gareth McAuley has yet to convince he is any better than Jason De Vos, and those who maligned the Canadian last year, can now see what he brought to the team in terms of presence and aerial ability.

McAuley, a £1.1m buy from relegated Leicester City looks no quicker and his positional sense deserted him as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake got away from him to head in the opener from a Michael Kightly cross, and it is not the first time the Irishman has been exposed.

Central partner Richard Naylor is revered at Portman Road, but as honest and wholehearted as he is, it would be hard to see him as a first choice centre half in many other promotion contenders or any Premier League sides.

In Ben Thatcher Town have brought in a solid no-nonsense left back, but is he really any better than Dan Harding now on loan at Southend?

The left side of midfield remains a problem area. The absence of Alan Quinn, who is we are told is not injured, meant Danny Haynes went there instead of Liam Trotter who played in that position at Burnley and Magilton publicly apologised to Trotter for making the switch.

Before ex-Colchetser United defender George Elokobi was stretchered off with a twisted knee, Haynes was exposed as a one-trick pony by the full back who matched his pace and therefore nullified his threat.

Alan Lee went over on that side in the first half and laboured before being taken off at half-time and was not missed.

Richard Wright made another couple of good saves, not least to deny Richard Stearman at point blank range when he stole around the back to head a Jones free kick goal-wards.

But he fluffed a Kightly drive and that allowed substitute Dave Edwards to steal in for the winner.

That came moments after Alex Bruce had been sent off but even before that Town constantly gave the ball back too easily. They failed to get hold of Dave Jones and Karl Henry in the middle of the park and Matt Jarvis has probably never enjoyed so much freedom down the left flank.

Bruce standing in at right back actually had a decent enough game and refused to allow the tricky winger to get in behind him even if it meant conceding a raft of corners.

His over-enthusiastic lunge to win the ball back meant he was red carded, a couple of years ago it might not have even been a foul as he clearly won the ball and took none of the man. But in today's climate the end result was inevitable and off he went.

His departure made little difference, Town were not going to win as Wolves were clearly a better side, playing better football.

Mick McCarty got his tactics spot on as Wolves denied Town the ball, attacked with verve and might have scored even more.

Jarvis hit a post with and made Wright work hard with other efforts and crosses.

Town's brightest spell came when Pablo Counago replaced Lee at the break and made an instant impression with his clever play and cunning touches.

He gave Wayne Hennessey a couple of things to think about as the Wolves' keeper made decent saves from the Spaniard.

Counago also teed up Jon Walters, but the shot was easy for the keeper when last season Walters would have buried the chance.

The nearest Town came to scoring was when Elokobi was down injured and Miller had two cracks on goal with Stearman clearing off the line.

It was a rare excursion into the box by the midfielder who, along with Veliche Shumulikoski, struggled to contain Wolves, with Owen Garvan starting on the bench.

It is still very much work in progress but Magilton knows the sands of time are beginning to run out.