Blues' self-belief should be restored

ALTHOUGH it made no difference to their league position, four points from two of the automatic promotion challengers will do wonders for the Blues' self belief.

Derek Davis

Reading 1 Ipswich 0

By Derek Davis

ALTHOUGH it made no difference to their league position, four points from two of the automatic promotion challengers will do wonders for the Blues' self belief.


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All they need to do now is show the same sort of confidence and resilience at home.

Ipswich took full advantage of Reading's own propensity to implode at home by soaking up 20 minutes of relentless onslaught, in which returning favourite Dave Kitson hit the crossbar before slowly but surely getting a foothold into the game.

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As the game wore on The Royals' visibly wilted as they ran out of ideas in how to prise open a dogged defence led superbly by skipper Gareth McAuley.

And when Jon Stead scored with a spectacular overhead kick, there are no bog standard overhead kicks, to give town the lead moments after the break, Reading were consigned to yet more home misery.

The third-placed side have picked up just two points from a possible 15 at the Madejski Stadium and have managed just one win in eight games - hardly promotion form.

Their highly-respected manager Steve Coppell will join an elite group of managers, which includes former Blues boss Joe Royle, in taking charge of 1,000 games tomorrow at Doncaster.

Unlike Jim Magilton, who blames Town's poor home form on media pressure, which he also blames for last season's rubbish away results, Coppell accepted responsibility. He even suggested the unthinkable could happen when he warned: “I have been in this game long enough to know that results don't improve longevity will not continue. I'm fully aware of the consequences.”

Ipswich had to contend with the returning Kitson and Glen Little that lifted the Reading crowd, especially after just four minutes when the dup combined and hit the crossbar.

Richard Wright was busy without being overly stretched while McAuley, back in the side after a one-match ban, was calmness personified when he denied Shane Long chasing through by dragging the ball back skilfully before setting up a counter.

He was more than ably helped out by the rumbustious Ben Thatcher who may have sailed close to the wind but was nevertheless magnificently effective.

Twice in the second half he saved the Blues. The first when he cleared off the line from a Michael Duberry header and then in the later stages when he tackled Kevin Doyle and conceded a corner as the striker latched onto a pass from Kitson in front of goal.

Although Town had to wait half an hour before they won their first corner and Marcus Hahnemann was not called into action until midway through the first half, they started to create their own chances.

Tommy Miller fired over the bar after being teed up by Stead and the lively Luciano Civelli wad denied by a Liam Rosenior block.

Stead cracked the deadlock two minutes into the second half when Miller latched onto a slip by Chris Armstrong and curled in a ball towards the six yard box.

The lanky stead met the ball superbly with agility and ability with the overhead kick that the American keeper had no chance with.

It was the former Sheffield United striker's 11th gaol of the campaign and he might have added to it when he put pressure first on Alex Pearce and then Brynjar Gunnarsson but could not find the finish required.

Town best chance of a second came when David Norris charged through but with Civelli unmarked in a wonderful position and screaming for the ball, he selfishly hit a tame shot straight to the keeper.

Civelli deserves goal and one is bound to come for him soon. He provided a valuable outlet for Town's counter with Richard Wright often picking him out on the left.

He was joined by Mexican forward Giovani Dos Santos making his Town debut on loan from Tottenham Hotspur and showed glimpses of his pace and skill.

The 19-year-old will probably make his full debut for Town against Burnley tomorrow when Ipswich look for just their second home league win of 2009.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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