Just a draw with Swansea

WHEN Jon Stead flashed a shot just wide and David Norris had a good effort topped away in the opening minutes it looked as if Town were at last going to live up to expectation.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

WHEN Jon Stead flashed a shot just wide and David Norris had a good effort tipped away in the opening minutes it looked as if Town were at last going to live up to expectation.

After months of tweaking and twiddling Jim Magilton put out a starting side that is arguably his most favoured XI.

Ben Thatcher at left back would probably be the only player guaranteed to start and it would be tough on David Wright of he didn't keep his place in the side, even if it meant dislodging Moritz Volz at right back.

But that bright start evaporated as Swansea got into their stride and using the full width of the pitch put Town's suspect defence under pressure.

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Gorka Pintado almost capitalised on a mix up between Richard Wright and Richard Naylor but poked wide after getting between them.

Wright saved with his knees from Jordi Gomez and Darren Pratley went wide after he escaped from the sluggish Iván Campo.

Both teams play football that is easy on the eye and Swansea's open style suited Town although they were second best for long periods.

Swansea's Spanish trio of Angel Rangel, Jordi Gomez and Gorka Pintado along with the very English Darren Pratley were causing

But it was Town's own Spaniards that proved the fly in the ointment as they went ahead somewhat against the run of play.

Campo may struggle with players going at him and some of his passing may be wayward, as Walters found and the two bickered.

But given time and space and he oozes quality. That was highlighted with two pin-point passes from inside his own half.

The first found Stead whose weak shot was easily saved by De Vries.

The second was taken expertly by Pablo Counago who held off a challenge from Ashley painter before turning and finishing superbly from a tight angle.

It was the least Counago could do after getting in the way of a Gareth McAuley goal-bound header.

So Town fans could have been forgiven for thinking their side should go on and secure the win against the newly promoted side, especially given how many times they went on to win at home last season.

But Portman Road is no longer the fortress it was and it took the Swans just two minutes into the second half to exploit Ipswich's Achilles heel.

As David Wright stood still with his arm in the air after Alan Quinn had clattered Gomez, Angel Rangel played on to the referee's advantage and teed up Dutchman Ferrie Bodde who arrived into the box unchecked and fired in.

With Town chasing the win Magilton made changes on the hour putting on Tommy Miller for a tiring Campo and Owen Garvan for stead.

The crowd booed and chanted 'you don't know what you're doing' but Jon Walters pushed up front searching for a winner.

It didn't quite work out as Swansea instead went in front after more sloppy play at the back.

A Gomez corner fell short but Garvan failed to clear and Williams poked ball back out for the Spaniard who beat Wright from 16 yards with a fine strike.

As good a goal as it was, Richard Wright will not be happy to have been beaten at his near post and his place may soon be in jeopardy as Magilton runs out of patience with his number one's growing catalogue of errors.

Mind you he was not helped by naïve defending from German full back Volz who had allowed the left-footed Gomez to come inside him and have the freedom to use his favoured foot.

The defence, and Magilton who is coming under increasing pressure from disgruntled supporters, were saved by some lax defending by Swansea.

A Garvan corner was only cleared as far as miller who threaded a ball through to Counago and he finished smartly with the Wales side appealing for offside.

It was tight but it was the break Town needed because dropping all three points would have been extremely worrying.

While a point is better than nothing, it is still not really good enough against a good footballing side but one that probably won't be challenging for a second promotion in succession.

Ipswich need to beat these sides. Especially at home and they will be pleased to be going to a struggling Nottingham Forest side tomorrow where three points should be expected - and needed if they are going to achieve the seven they hoped for this week.

If that was Magilton's best XI then it is fast approaching the stage where mistakes have to learned and rectified, action not excuses exercised and the long promised potential realised.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk