Galleries: Bitter pill to swallow for Town fans as Canaries win big
THE Old Farm derby at Portman Road will not live in the memories of Blues fans with Norwich City running out comprehensive winners
Ipswich Town 1-5 Norwich City
THE Old Farm derby at Portman Road will not live in the memories of Blues fans with Norwich City running out comprehensive winners.
The result put paid to any lingering hopes that Ipswich had of reaching the play-offs while it saw the Canaries go into second place in the Championship table with an excellent chance of joining Queens Park Rangers in automatic promotion.
Derbies are like cup finals as they can give you so much pleasure when you are winning, but when you are losing they can be no fun at all.
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And so it proved despite all the hype and a great atmosphere in the ground and it was a night when Town fans had to grudgingly concede that the dreaded Canaries were the better team.
To lose 4-1 to Norwich is bad enough as Town did at Carrow Road earlier in the season, but to go on and get thrashed 5-1 at home is a bitter pill to swallow.
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This defeat was Town biggest league defeat of the season and soured somewhat the turnaround that has taken place at since Roy Keane was replaced in January.
There is work to be done with defensive frailties leading to the Blues deservedly being two goals adrift at the interval. However much hurt to lose to Norwich much more worrying the amount of improvement needed on this evidence to become serious promotion contenders next term
Norwich are a club with nothing like the tradition that Ipswich can boast with the Blues having won the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and the Football League championship.
But under what is proving to be the expert guidance of manager Paul Lambert they are currently on a high having won their way out of League One 12 months ago and in serious contention to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League along with Queens Park Rangers.
This was Ipswich’s chance to put a spoke in the wheel, and the pressure was all on City with the play-offs not carrying anything like the same weight as winning a certain place in the top flight.
The Town players had all the backing they could have asked for with a near-full house and home fans obviously outnumbering those who had travelled down from Norfolk to support a club where television chef Delia Smith has played such a big part in any success they have had.
City fans did their best to make their presence felt buoyed no doubt by the great deal of success they have enjoyed this season, but Town supporters were out to make the most of the occasion and take the local bragging rights into next season.
In front of the biggest crowd at Portman Road this season the atmosphere was electric and with the pitch in perfect condition the evening was set up for a notable occasion.
But then it all went wrong!
Norwich set off at a terrific pace showing all the confidence they have built up during the season, and also the skill factor that has seen them enjoy so much success since the start of the season.
It was no surprise then when Andrew Surman put the Canaries in front in the 13th minutes after insecure goalkeeping by Arran Lee-Barrett – the first mistake the keeper had made since coming into the side a month ago.
Ipswich looked an inferior team at this stage with not the same rhythm as the visitors and the next goal was going to be vital. An equaliser and Ipswich were right back in the game, and a Norwich goal and the game looked up for Town.
It was the Canaries who were soon left chirping even louder in the 23rd minute when a David Fox corner from the left led to all sorts of hesitancy in the Town area with the ball reaching the far post where McAuley running goalwards turned the ball into his own net.
With a Norwich a marker for what Town manager Paul Jewell will be looking for his side to reach next term he was able to see what work needs to be done as Norwich gained command of the game and looked the better side in most departments.
Simeon Jackson (73rd minutes) and Russell Martin (80th minute) added to Norwich’s tally with Jimmy Bullard puling back a superb consolation for an outplayed Blues in-between (78 minutes). Pacheco netted the fifth.
The news that David Sheepshanks, who generally ran the Blues so well for many years before unearthing Marcus Evans to enable the club to compete on a level playing field with the best in the 21st century, has left his current posts including his remaining Ipswich links to pave the way for taking over the running of the new national football centre at Burton, coincided with the build-up to the game with any Ipswich win being a fitting tribute to Sheepshanks contribution to a club he loves.
While Town’s away form has been superb with just one defeat on their travels since mid-January, their home displays have not been so fruitful with three consecutive defeats virtually knocking on the head any hopes of a late run to the top six.