Miserable night for Town at Coventry

Coventry City 2 Ipswich Town 1By ELVIN KINGIPSWICH Town's dreadful run of away performances this year continued right up to the final game of 2007 when they lost this Coca-Cola Championship match at the Ricoh Arena.

Coventry City 2 Ipswich Town 1

By ELVIN KING

IPSWICH Town's dreadful run of away performances this year continued right up to the final game of 2007 when they lost this Coca-Cola Championship match at the Ricoh Arena.

The Blues won just two away games in 2007 - at Hull and Luton both last March - and they conceded two poor goals in a game that kicked-off at 5.20pm.

Town played well for much of the opening period, but the home side had control after the break when Ipswich failed to mount a serious strike on goal and had Tommy Miller sent off.

Julian Gray put Coventry ahead in the 11th minute before Ipswich took control of the rest of the first half and equalised in the 42nd minute through Danny Haynes. Dele Adebola, a reported Ipswich target in the past, put the home side back in front again in the 64th minute when the visiting defence was caught napping.

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Miller was sent off in the 86th minute after receiving his second yellow card.

Town made three changes from the side that was beaten 2-0 at Leicester City on Boxing Day. Out went the injured Alex Bruce along with Gavin Williams, who was substitute, and Dan Harding, who was not in the final 16.

For Harding it was a one-match return to the side after being on the sidelines following the 3-1 defeat at Charlton five matches ago.

In came Chris Casement for his second start of the season - his first was at Hull in September - Fabian Wilnis and Danny Haynes.

Casement filled the right back role with David Wright switching to left back, and Wilnis taking over as skipper Jason De Vos' central defensive partner.

Matt Richards was a surprise call-up to the squad after his return from his loan at Brighton, and was on the bench. Richard Naylor did not travel after being mentioned as a possible squad member yesterday as it is considered he needs a game or two in the reserves after 11 months out through injury.

Coventry were without suspended strikers Leon Best and Kevin Kyle while other front men Leon McKenzie and Robbie Simpson were both injured.

Former Town keeper Andy Marshall was in goal, while Michael Hughes was back in midfield after missing out on the Boxing Day home defeat against Crystal Palace.

Ipswich were in the same white shirts and black shorts strip they wore at the Walkers Stadium on Wednesday, and they set about their task on a pitch that had taken a considerable amount of rain and was likely to cut up.

The home team should have taken the lead inside two minutes. De Vos misjudged the pace of his back pass in the windy conditions and Mifsud went clear with only Alexander to beat. He got plenty of power in his shot but lifted his effort high over the bar.

Coventry took the lead in the 11th minute as Ipswich were, not for the first time this season, found wanting at the back.

Adebola skipped around De Vos leaving the Town skipper on the deck just inside his own half. The number nine ran on to go inside the penalty area before crossing low where Mifsud was denied by a stunning save from Alexander.

The ball only went as far as GRAY, however, and the left-side player had a simple task of placing the ball into the unguarded net.

Soon afterwards it could have been two with Wilnis on the ground injured and playing Gray on side. Garvan was able to get back and make a decisive tackle before Wilnis received treatment before carrying on.

The Coventry defence was all over the place, and there was surely a goal or two to be had for the visitors.

And Haynes should have done better in the 18th minute when Walters pumped the ball into the middle from the left side. Haynes got between Borrowdale and Marshall but was unable to make a clean connection and a relieved keeper was able to collect.

In the 29th minute Counago was close to an equaliser.

Casement made ground in style and found Haynes, whose pinpoint cross was met by Counago on the edge of the six-yard box. The Spaniard's firm header was straight at Marshall, who twisted and turned the ball over the bar.

Coventry had won just three home games this season prior to the visit of Ipswich - and had lost on no fewer than five occasions in front of their own supporters.

It was virtually all Ipswich in the breezy conditions, and from Casement's low cross from the touchline, Counago had space in front of goal - but only for a fraction of a second and he was not allowed a second touch.

Ipswich's neat build-up play was in contrast to the edgy display by Coventry, and in the 41st minute they went close again after Casement had reached the by-line - Turner clearing from Counago two yards out.

But a minute later Ipswich's dominance got its reward. Wright tried his luck from 25 yards and the ball came back off the bar for HAYNES to follow up intelligently to head the rebound over the line for his third goal of the season.

Walters went close following a corner, before in a rare raid upfield Mifsud fired just over from 30 yards. Coventry won a corner in stoppage time and de Zeeuw was booked - when perhaps he should have been sent off - for an elbow in the face of Alexander as the keeper punched clear. Half-time:

Coventry City 1 Ipswich Town 1

It had been a much better away display by Ipswich although Coventry were looking a very poor side at the back. The Sky Blues still however posed a threat when they came forward.

Gray, the main danger man in the first 45 minutes for Coventry, was replaced at the interval by Davis. The home team appeared to come out with much more fight than they had shown earlier, no doubt fired up by manager Dowie in the dressing room.

The Blues beat the Sky Blues 4-1 at Portman Road in September and they were seeking their first double of the season.

After a shaky start De Vos was getting through a lot of good work for Ipswich, and he was receiving good support from right-hand man Wilnis.

Garvan had a 25-yard volley blocked after a Miller corner had been half-cleared, but Town had yet to find the control they enjoyed for the latter part of the first half.

And they went behind for the second time in the 64th minute after sloppy play by Ipswich on the halfway line. Casement was caught out by a surging run by Davis who was able to run forward and find ADEBOLA running clear. The number nine beat the exposed keeper comprehensively from close in to steer the ball low into the corner of the goal.

Four minutes later Casement cleared a header off the line following a left wing cross as Coventry grew in confidence from their goal. And within seconds lively substitute Thornton surged beyond two Town players to send over a low cross that Mifsud was a whisker away from turning into the net.

It was revealed that 1,177 Town fans had made the journey to the Ricoh Arena, with Ipswich replacing Counago with Williams after 71 minutes.

Walters was now up front with Lee, with Haynes and Williams playing wide, but Town had failed to find their best form in this half with Wilnis having to head over his own bar in the 80th minute as Coventry continued to attack.

Marshall had not had a save to make since the interval, and it was not very good stuff although better than many of Ipswich's away displays this term.

Miller, his fourth of the season, and Haynes were booked as the game drifted to a conclusion with those loyal Blues fans looking as though they would be going home disappointed yet again.

Miller was booked again in the 86th minute and although he protested his innocence he had to leave the field after being sent off by the referee. It did not look a bad second challenge but the official felt it warranted punishment as the Coventry player went to ground.

Town were left to soldier on with ten men, bringing on Trotter for Casement after 88 minutes. At the same time, Coventry replaced Hughes with Ward.

In the four minutes of stoppage time, Ipswich mounted a couple of attacks, but they had been beaten again on their travels and it was a three points that Coventry were very grateful to receive.

Attendance: 18,346

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