Draw at table-topping Saints shows just how far Ipswich have progressed, says Paul Jewell

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell believes tonight’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at league-leaders Southampton shows just how far his side has progressed in recent weeks.

The Blues were thrashed 5-2 in the reverse fixture at Portman Road last August, but the same back four refused to collapse under heavy first half pressure this time around.

And while Rickie Lambert opened the scoring in the 74th minute, few could argue that Town deserved substitute Jason Scotland’s 85th minute equaliser after an impressive second half.

With the Blues having lost just once in their last seven matches, Jewell said: “When you’re not great you’ve got to get something out of the game and today is the first time we have done that in a long time.

“They were excellent at our place and battered us at times. They’ve got some quality players and I think they’ll be in the Premier League next season, but we’ve shown some battling qualities against them.

“One defeat in seven is obviously decent form; if you reproduced that over the course of any given season then you’d be in with a chance of promotion.”

He continued: “First half we were distinctly average – I just felt we were sitting back a bit and waiting for them to come at us. I didn’t want us to do that because I think we are far better when we’re on the front foot.

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“I tore a strip of them at half-time and I think you saw the response.”

Speaking of goalscorer Scotland, Jewell said: “Jason has been terrific for us. He works hard in training and always works hard when he comes on.

“It was a gut feeling bringing Michael Chopra into the team against West Ham and it has worked, but Jason can count himself a little unlucky.

“People obviously talk about the contract situation (Scotland still needs three more league starts to get an automatic new deal) buts it’s got nothing to do with that.

“I have to say Jason’s professionalism and positive attitude around the place has been terrific. I’m really pleased for him. He’s a valuable member of our squad.”