Heartbreak as Town lose to late goal

WATFORD'S jinx over Ipswich Town continued when they came from behind to beat them at Vicarage Road in the Coca-Cola Championship tonight.

Elvin King

Watford 2 Ipswich Town 1

WATFORD'S jinx over Ipswich Town continued when they came from behind to beat them at Vicarage Road in the Coca-Cola Championship tonight.

In a game where there were chances galore at both ends Town were unable to hold out after the Hornets stepped up a gear in the second half.

Town took the lead inside two minutes through Pablo Counago after a mistake by home keeper Mart Poom, but Watford equalised through John Eustace in the 58th minute.

John-Joe O'Toole headed the winner in the 87th minute after Richard Wright had failed to hold on to a long low shot.

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Ipswich made two changes from the side that beat Colchester United on Tuesday in the Carling Cup - Moritz Votz and Tommy Miller replacing Chris Casement and Alan Quinn.

Votz, the first German to play for Ipswich, was making his Town debut, while former Spanish international Ivan Campo was playing his first league game for the club.

A poor kick-out by keeper Poom led to Town taking an early lead.

Counago took possession and held off his marker on the edge of the area to move forward and roll a left-footed side-foot accurately low into the corner of the net. It was Counago's second goal of the season.

Town were in early control and in the 25th minute they should have scored a second goal after Trotter played a ball forward and Lisbie beat a square defence.

With Poom exposed, Lisbie had the unmarked Counago waiting alone in front of goal.

But instead of playing a simple square pass, Lisbie tried to lift the ball beyond the keeper and only succeeded in placing it wide.

Two minutes later Watford broke and Smith put Priskin in behind the Town defence.

He ran across the out-rushing Wright and going sidewards - with Naylor in pursuit - he stumbled to the floor.

Watford were adamant it should be a penalty, but TV replays prove the referee to be right with Priskin tripping over his own feet.

In the 36th minutes, Watford went within a whisker of an equaliser when Harley got ahead of Votz at the far post and directed his header past Wright but flush against the far post. Wright gratefully collected the rebound.

Ipswich today dismissed reports that Stoke had bid £3million for Jon Walters, although it remained to be seen what activity remained in the final two days of the transfer window.

It was a gloriously sunny day for a match that kicked off at 5.20pm and was shown live on Sky Sports TV.

Town travelled up to Hertfordshire on the day, with Owen Garvan, Alan Quinn and David Norris in the party but not included in the final squad.

Wright finger tipped Priskin's header wide following a 47th minute Watford corner. From the second corner, Wright gathered Smith's header to his chest as the home side re-started in lively fashion.

Ipswich had not beaten Watford in their six previous meetings with the Hornets the only side to double the Blues last season.

In the 56th minute, Lisbie and the raiding Votz combined to set Walters free. Walters had only Poom to beat - with the keeper rushing out to block the shot with his chest.

Watford equalised in the 58th minute when Eustace broke free from a group of bodies in front of goal following a right wing corner to head powerfully into the net from eight yards. Eustace appeared to entangle himself from Campo before scoring.

Two minutes later Watford almost went in front.

McAnuff tried a low shot that went through a forest of legs and Wrights was unable to hold on to the ball. It ran along the goal line, and Wright somehow got ahead of Williamson to push the ball away for a corner.

Despite the television coverage there was still another excellent turn-out of Town fans, and they were congregated behind the goal.

In the 77th minute, Priskin got clear down the right and from his low cross McAnuff had the goal at his mercy five yards out.

Naylor put in a despairing challenge and the ball went into the stand off the top of the bar.

Haynes headed over a cross by Thatcher with the game now end to end.

With three minutes left. Wright was unable to hold on to a low shot from the left and substitute O'Toole was on hand to head the rebound into the net - and break Town's hearts with a late winning goal.

Teams

Watford: Poom; Doyley, Bromby, De Merit, Parkes (sub O'Toole 46); McAnuff, Williamson (Francis 80), Eustace, Harley; Smith, Priskin (Henderson 80). Substitutes: Loach, Mariappa.

Ipswich Town: Wright; Votz, McAuley, Naylor, Thatcher; Walters, Campo, Miller, Trotter (Shumulikoski 80); Counago (Rhodes 73), Lisbie (Haynes 65). Substitutes: Supple, Balkestein.

Referee: Mr L Probert (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 16,345

- Ipswich have been drawn at home to Premier League Wigan Athletic in the third round of the Carling Cup the match set to be played on Tuesday September 23.

The game is likely to see the return to Portman Road of Titus Bramble, while Alex Bruce could be playing against the side his father Steve manages.

-Alan Lee, who signed for Crystal Palace yesterday, made his debut for his new club against Reading and come off the bench to have a hand in a Palace goal.

The fee is 'undisclosed', but believed to be an initial 600,000 rising to a possible £900,000. Town paid £100,000 for Lee from Cardiff in January 2006.