Lay back, relax and think about records

INVINCIBILITY is not just about knowing you won't lose but the opposition knowing they can't beat you.It is inconceivable that any team arrives at Portman Road not thinking they can break the proud record that now stands at 11 straight home league wins but, each one that goes away a failure, makes it harder for the next to believe.

By Derek Davis

INVINCIBILITY is not just about knowing you won't lose but the opposition knowing they can't beat you.

It is inconceivable that any team arrives at Portman Road not thinking they can break the proud record that now stands at 11 straight home league wins but, each one that goes away a failure, makes it harder for the next to believe.

The Blues need to beat Southampton, Barnsley, Leicester City and Scunthorpe to set a new all-time record of successive league wins at home, the previous one of 14 going back to the 1956-57 season.

Victory over Burnley too will give them the new record, breaking the run of 15 in all competitions set in 1981.

Reaching 11 is an achievement in itself and the players deserve all the pampering they will get at the luxury hotel and spa they are staying at today in Northamptonshire.

Most Read

Over the past 10 games Town have rode their luck, shown guts and determination and, at times, played some decent stuff.

Against Bristol City, they stepped up to a new level with as complete a performance as they could probably put together.

All six goals were top drawer, the style of football exquisite and the confidence oozing through the side is almost tangible.

No wonder Bristol buckled, then broke under such a relentless onslaught.

Only for around 10 minutes or so in the first half did Town throttle back, perhaps reluctant to carry on going all out while two up for fear of letting it slip, as they have done away.

But Town are a different animal at home, playing with expression and a refreshing freedom that is so effective when the opposition offer so little in return.

Bristol were surprisingly shocking and there was no real indication why that should be so.

They have had a settled side of late, and thought the last-minute loss to Charlton in midweek was no more than a blip.

Certainly, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, a huge Bristol City fan who as at the game as David Sheepshanks' guest, will have been as stunned as anyone.

But he will also have recognised just how good Ipswich were.

Their free-flowing football is attractive to the eye. It is also deadly in its incisiveness and City's lack of a midfield, although they had five bodies strung across the middle with David Noble playing behind lone striker Darren Byfield, was cruelly exposed.

Owen Garvan, struggling with a knee problem, was allowed to dictate everything and never put under pressure to take a step back.

With Jon Walters given the freedom of the park on the right, and Billy Clarke buzzing about menacingly, City were torn asunder.

Only Tony Mowbray's West Brom have scored as many goals as Ipswich this season, with 31, but no one in the country can come close to the 23 Town have banged in at home, which works out at slightly better than three a match on average.

The goals were all the result of superb build-up play, which City could not cope with, and quite often were culpable due to poor passing high up the pitch.

The loose play was punished by Town, and Garvan, in particular, and after just five minutes he found a wide-open Walters.

The No.19 cut inside and unchallenged let fly from the D, which Liam Fontaine deflected past Adriano Busso.

Last week, Fontaine was a goal hero for City, which will result in manager Gary Johnson bearing his bottom in a High Street shop window after making a rash promise.

That humiliation will probably not compare to the embarrassing capitulation of his side, and that includes his son Lee who was left almost as exposed in midfield.

The second started once more with Garvan spreading the ball wide for Walters, whose cross was nodded away by City skipper Louis Carey. While Bradley Orr hesitated, Alan Lee nipped in and hooked the ball back inside before crossing towards Walters.

In flew David Wright, totally unmarked, and met the ball with a diving header that any striker would be proud of.

Even at two up, there was some trepidation among Town followers because we have seen them slip from this position.

Not this time, as just after the break the greyhound that is Danny Haynes sprinted on to a delightful lobbed pass from Tommy Miller, controlled with chest and knee before surging into the area only to be brought down by Orr.

His dismissal was never in doubt and Miller took the ball from Haynes before hammering past Busso, who got fingertips to the penalty shot.

Miller has only ever been denied once from the spot, and that was retaken successfully.

From then on, Ipswich just tore City apart and looked as if they could score at will.

Counago found Walters in acres of space and his powerful finish was the mark of a man high on confidence.

Walters repaid the favourite by picking out Counago and the slippery Spaniard waltzed through the Bristol defence before passing through three defenders into the net for his third goal in four games.

There was plenty of time for Walters to complete his hat-trick and this time he chased onto a Garvan through ball before finishing expertly.

It was sublime stuff and Billy Clarke almost got the goal he deserved but his shot from the edge of the area was partially blocked and then cleared off the line by Brian Wilson.

A seventh would have put them in heaven, as it is six was enough to put Town in the play-off places and that will do for now.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter