Dropped points will rankle Ipswich

AS good as Town played for the most part, the dropped points will rankle against bottom-placed Southampton.

Derek Davis

AS good as Town played for the most part, the dropped points will rankle against bottom-placed Southampton.

Wolves and Birmingham are beginning to open up a gap at the top and if Ipswich are going to be genuine promotion contenders they can't afford to keep dropping points after being ahead, even if it away from home.

There was much to be happy about, but sloppy goals once again proved costly and individual mistakes marred an otherwise decent all-round team performance.

Without Kelvin Davis there is no doubt Ipswich would have won by a country mile as the ex-Blues stopper had an outstanding match, although Town survived some scary moments too.

With three games in the space of a week Magilton made changes from the side that beat Reading last Saturday.

Most Read

The one enforced change was Pim Balkestein starting in place of Gareth McAuley who picked up a dead leg after just 25 minutes into that win.

The young Dutchman looks far more assured in his natural centre half position and put in a series of important blocks and tackles to defy the lively Saints.

He did make a mistake immediately after the break, but Stern John failed to take full advantage and hit a shot over the bar.

In midfield Town countered the Southampton formation by playing Tommy Miller deep with Owen Garvan and David Norris alternating next to him, with the other at the forward point of a triangle tucked in just behind Stead with Walters wide on the right, and Quinn on the left.

It worked well with fluid movement from all involved, although gaps did appear for Saints to exploit.

Both teams created openings and chances, but it was Davis who was forced into making a series of vital and excellent saves midway through the first half.

Walters had at least four stitches in a head wound still swollen and bruised and wore a bandage.

He held his head in anguish after five minutes when he blazed over the bar from 20 yards after good work from Stead.

The whole team were hanging their heads seven minutes later when Andrew Surman put the young Saints ahead.

It was no more than both teams deserved because Southampton were playing slick neat football and even though Richard Wright, up until that point, had nothing of note to deal with Town were very much on the back foot.

Simon Gillett had gone close with a low shot after a good passing move which Town were left chasing shadows.

But, like Town, Southampton struggled without the ball and Town were deadly going forward.

David Norris was back at the scene of his only goal for Ipswich in a dozen appearances, way back last March, and provided much of Town's energetic midfield.

The £2.2m January purchase started the move for the equaliser. He nicked inside for Walters who played it back and his shot was saved by Davis' feet. Jack Cork blocked Walters' follow-up but looped the ball over for Garvan who lobbed it in from close range.

Former Town keeper Davis made a terrific save to block Stead and then made a vital tip-over from Norris.

The Blues though, went ahead by making full use of their width with overlapping full back Moritz Volz getting behind Surman on the right flank to put in a deep cross and the little Quinn rose majestically to head in at the far post.

Balkestein was proving a menace in the Southampton box as much as he was showing his worth in the Town area and had a hooked volley blocked from Garvan corner

Ipswich were getting the upper hand when Jan Poortvliet made a tactical double switch and took off the struggling Gillett and replaced him with the more experienced Morgan Schneiderlin. That shored up the middle a little, while Bradley Wright-Phillips went on for the tiring Dyer.

The Saints equaliser came when the otherwise impeccable Richard Naylor slipped after limping out of defence hurriedly and David McGoldrick took advantage before slipping a ball through for substitute Tomas Pekhart, who beat Wright with a well-struck shot inside the box.

It was a harsh goal for Town to concede and as much as they hustled and bustled, Southampton held on for the draw, thanks largely to the inspired Kelvin Davis.

The strength for Town was in being able to bring on strike duo Pablo Counago and Kevin Lisbie, which perked things up for Ipswich once more. And if they can start to produce anything like their best for a full game then they can make rapid progress up the table.