Ipswich lose proud home league record

By Elvin KingIpswich Town 1 Watford 2IPSWICH Town lost their proud unbeaten home league record when they suffered a Portman Road defeat in the Coca-Cola Championship for the first time in 11 months.

By Elvin King

Ipswich Town 1 Watford 2

IPSWICH Town lost their proud unbeaten home league record when they suffered a Portman Road defeat in the Coca-Cola Championship for the first time in 11 months.

When the team with the best home record in the division met the team with the best away record something had to give.

Ipswich had been undefeated in their previous 19 home matches while Watford have lost just three times on the road this campaign.

Tommy Smith headed in a corner from Mathew Sadler in the 33rd minute, when Town's defending left much to be desired with the Watford man converting from inside the six-yard box.

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Nathan Ellington increased the Watford lead in the 56th minute, before Jon Walters moved to the top of the Town scoring charts with his 11th goal of the season in the 70th minute.

Substitute Alan Lee lobbed over his namesake Richard to strike the bar, but otherwise a poor Ipswich display did not produce any real concerns to a resilient Watford.

The Blues started a tad nervously and it was the visitors who had most of the early play with De Vos and then Bruce having to make vital challenges after Town had failed to retain possession when trying to build on what looked like becoming a difficult bobbly surface.

The large contingent of Watford fans were on their feet in the seventh minute when Bangura's cross from the left by-passed the Town defence, and Henderson came within a whisker of getting a telling touch at the far post.

It was nearly all Watford, who looked in confident mood after their 3-0 home victory Wolves last weekend.

Quinn, chasing a Couango pass down the left, was tripped in full flight by Bromby, but Quinn's free-kick led to a foul by Bruce as he went to head goalwards at the far post.

Ainsworth ran half the length of the field in the 19th minute and it took a combined effort by four Town players to eventually take the ball off him. But Ipswich could still not build, and at this stage Watford looked the more accomplished.

Then, Town broke smartly through Walters, and some rapid interchanging of passes led to Quinn almost creating a shooting chance for Counago.

The 32nd minute of a dull game saw the first corner - for Watford - with Sadler immediately winning a second off Garvan. This one led to a goal from SMITH after some poor Ipswich defending. Smith moved off the goal line, and got ahead of Bywater and above his marker to head into the unguarded net from six yards.

Watford looked by far the more dangerous although Town won a corner in the 38th minute after Lee miskicked a bobbling back pass.

In the two minutes of stoppage time Town manufactured a slick move with Garvan to the fore. Walters, now playing on the right of midfield, came infield and saw his shot beaten away by Lee at the near post.

Ipswich brought on striker Alan Lee for midfielder Miller before the re-start with Walters going on the right of midfield and Norris moving beside Garvan in the middle of midfield.

Ellington shot powerfully into the side netting from an angle after a pass by Bywater caught De Vos at full strength and led to a throw-in by the corner flag.

In the 52nd minute Alan Lee was an inch or two away from an equaliser. He chased a long ball forward from Wright and lobbed over a stranded Richard Lee. The ball took some while to come down, and when it did it struck the bar and bounced back into play.

Stewart came on for young Ainsworth after 53 minutes and took over on the left side of midfield for the visitors who had been rattled by the Alan Lee near miss.

Ipswich's hopes or preserving their unbeaten home record received another damaging blow in the 56th minute when ELLINGTON blasted in Watford's second goal. With WBA losing at the interval the Hornets could go top with a win, and when Stewart won the ball beyond the far post after a good move down the Watford right, the visiting defence was all at sea with Ellington having a free shot from ten yards.

Town boss Magilton made two changes after 59 minutes when Counago and Garvan came off to be replaced by Haynes and Sumulikoski.

Sumulikoski was prepared to roll his sleeves up and he took the ball off Bangura as Ipswich did their best to step up a gear.

From a left wing corner by Sadler in the 67th minute it needed a fine diving save by Bywater to deny Ellington when the striker's effort looked destined for the corner of the goal.

The criticism of referee D'Urso increased with the frustrations of the game for home supporters. But there was a significant turn for the better in the 70th minute when WALTERS scored his 11th goal of the season. Bangura was booked for a heavy challenge, and from the free-kick, De Vos headed the ball back into the middle from beyond the far post and Walters slid the ball low into the net at the near post.

Bromby was booked for time wasting over a throw in and the atmosphere had now increased several fold with Town's fans now right behind them as they searched for a leveller.

Henderson was given treatment as the visitors tried to slow down the pace of the game. O'Toole appeared to be coming on Eustace, but after some more tetchy delays it was Ellington who came off after 77 minutes.

Haynes was playing up front alongside Alan Lee, with Walters on the right of midfield, and when the later reached the by-line in the 81st minute his cross came off Sadler and looped over Lee to just miss the foot of the far post.

Striker Kabba came on for Smith with eight minutes left, but it was Ipswich who were going forward now and Sumulikoski tried his luck from 25 yards only for the ball to roll well wide.

Watford were counting down the clock now, and very little free-flowing football was taking place, although Alan Lee was close to putting Haynes in for a shot with a header-on from De Vos' long punt forward.

When four minutes of stoppage time was announced it brought boos from home fans with five minutes looking to be the least of the requirements.

There was no chance of a Town goal as the game ebbed away and Ipswich's proud home league record had been broken.