Ipswich are shown-up by old enemy

LOSING a derby game is bad enough. Going down in the manner Town did was dreadful.

Derek Davis

LOSING a derby game is bad enough. Going down in the manner Town did was dreadful.

The Blues were second best throughout and the battle was lost mainly in midfield where Ipswich were not just outplayed but shown up.

They lacked guile and precision up front and if it were not for a gutsy and determined display by the trio in the heart of Town's defence - Alex Bruce, Gareth McAuley and Richard Wright - this could have been wholly embarrassing.

This is the third away game on the bounce Town have been beaten, and just like the defeat at Doncaster it is all the harder to take due to the poor performance.

Not enough players were on their game and those who were must feel badly let down - just as the fans will.

Most Read

Conversely a whole raft of City players arguably had their best-ever game in the yellow and green.

When Town had chances to turn it around they failed to deliver and paid the price.

Although Norwich showed far more desire and intensity Ipswich could have pulled something out of the bag and not just saved face but also kept in touch with the top six.

After being battered for much of the first half Town enjoyed their brightest period after a half-time roasting from Jim Magilton.

Wright turned defence into attack with a huge clearance that was inadvertently flicked on by Gary Doherty and Jon Walters raced clear after winning the initial header.

But with only David Marshall to beat the misfiring striker was outwitted by the Scottish keeper who stuck up one arm and clawed away the effort.

That served to revitalise City who took control once again and their midfield, which had played though Owen Garvan and David Norris with far too much ease, once again carved up the openings.

Wes Hoolahan and Matty Pattison combined cleverly and the ball was played wide for Lee Croft, who hammered a 25-yard shot between Bruce and McAuley that swerved past a stranded Wright and into a top corner.

That prompted Jim Magilton to swap the ineffective Darren Ambrose with Danny Haynes and it almost paid dividends.

Demolition Derby Dan met a Garvan corner with a good header but Marshall made a terrific reaction save to push it away.

City took full advantage of the let-off to score their second in somewhat controversial circumstances eight minutes from time.

Leroy Lita sprinted 30 yards at a free kick to let the referee know that McAuley had a cut above an eye that was seeping blood.

Despite his protests McAuley was ordered off to have it wiped clean and checked by the fourth official.

During that time David Bell delivered a far-post free kick and Town failed to win the header. Pattison got away from Veliche Shumulikoski and was able to scramble the ball past Wright off the underside of the bar.

Ipswich found a bit of spirit to try and press for a consolation but they were unable to pierce a City defence that kept a clean sheet for the first time since they held out Barnsley in September.

There was a forlorn appeal for a penalty when Marshall pushed the ball away from Haynes' feet but just as he had turned down a City shout for one in the first half, referee Lee Probert did so again.

Magilton admitted afterwards that his side never matched Norwich's intensity and that, coupled with some poor play for long periods, was worrying for a side with promotion aspirations.

No doubt the 'Jim Out' brigade will be out in force again and certainly he was not helped by his players who never showed the same passion for him as their City counterparts did for their boss, who was also under scrutiny given their poor position so close to the bottom of the table.

Not only have Ipswich failed to win a game live on Sky at odd kick-off times, with defeats by Watford and Doncaster and now Norwich, but they have not been good enough to beat any side in the bottom six.

There can be no excuses. Ben Thatcher, out with a stomach bug, was the only enforced casualty, and the selection and set-up was the manager's desired choice.

He may not have heard the 'what a load of rubbish' or 'we want our money back' chants towards the end of the game as they were almost drowned out by the cacophony of celebrating Canaries fans.

There were similar calls when his players came out for their warm-down, coming from the most dedicated and Blue-nosed of Town supporters.

Patience is wearing thin among supporters, if not the owner, and the Blues will need to be far more convincing against Bristol City, who they beat 6-0 last year, and fellow play-off contenders Cardiff City next Saturday, if they are not to reach the halfway stage struggling to reach the top 10.

That does not spell progress.