Missed chances and poor decisions costly

THE Championship's version of musical chairs is getting to the mouth-watering stage.With a potential £30m plus to be unwrapped, rather than a bar of chocolate, each step towards the final place in the coveted top six gets more breathtakingly exciting as epitomised in this edge-of seat thriller.

Derek Davis

THE Championship's version of musical chairs is getting to the mouth-watering stage.

With a potential £30m plus to be unwrapped, rather than a bar of chocolate, each step towards the final place in the coveted top six gets more breathtakingly exciting as epitomised in this edge-of seat thriller.

While Ipswich will consider these two points dropped, the goalless draw virtually ends QPR's hopes of being in the game when there are just four seats left for the elusive last hot-spot to join the two that automatically go to play with the big boys.

So tight is the scramble for the play-off places, that three teams had their bums on the sixth-placed seat in a four-hour spell on Saturday.

Town briefly took over from Plymouth before Wolves' last-gasp win at Charlton in the evening saw them leap-frog into the coveted space, at least for a week.

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Victory over Colchester at Layer Road on Saturday could see Town force their way back into the play-off places while relegating their Essex neighbours, not a nice thought but as the late, great, Alan Ball used to say “football is a beautiful game but a horrible business”.

The beautiful game was in evidence as Ipswich and QPR went at each other hammer and tongs in an open and expansive game filled with chances and incident.

The only thing missing was goals and all the money the combined billionaire owners of these two clubs have, could not buy one of those.

Ipswich had three claims for a penalty, two of which looked nailed on.

The first was when Michael Mancienne cleared pushed Alan Lee in the back as he went up for a ball.

Referee Paul Armstrong later explained to the players that, in his opinion, it was merely a coming together of the two but in the opinion of this reporter, it was a definite foul.

It is also this reporter's opinion that Gavin Williams should have buried the chance that immediately fell to him but he missed the target completely.

With Pablo Counago suspended and Jon Walters and Shefki Kuqi not fit, Magilton chose to go with Danny Haynes up front with Lee and brought in Williams on the right flank.

Williams, who has struggled with injury for most of the season and is in contract dispute, has played just once this calendar year, in the FA Cup loss with Portsmouth, and it showed.

He was unable to do himself justice and never produced the way we know he can.

He failed to combine effectively with full debut-making Danny Simpson, the on-loan Manchester United right back, who showed quality in defence and attack.

Even switching wings did not help much and Alan Quinn offered only glimpses of his ability, not least when he forced the outstanding Lee Camp into a terrific save from a free kick.

Williams had been replaced by Gary Roberts by the time the most contentious decision was reached, as was Quinn who had gone off six minutes from time for Jordan Rhodes, a decision the crowd indicated should have been made much earlier.

Rhodes was instantly involved as he flicked on an Owen Garvan corner which came back off the inside of the far post.

Velice Sumulikoski nudged it in from close range but it was scooped out by a Matthew Connolly arm, when he looked well over the line.

The officials claimed to have not been able to see the incident through the melee which is fair enough and yet another classic case where technology would help them make an informed, correct decision.

Lee's other claim for a penalty was when he went down under a Connolly challenge but that was less clear cut.

A goal, or two, would have been fitting for the game which both sides made entertaining with their open, attacking style.

Ipswich had the better chances and always looked the most likely to score from the moment a superb through ball by De Vos sent Haynes scampering away.

He left Fitz Hall with twisted blood as he turned him inside out before cracking a shot against a post.

De Vos, who had a three goals in six games record against QPR, almost extended that when he got on the end of a Quinn cross but Camp made a superb reaction save to beat it away.

Camp, a former team-mate of Stephen Bywater at Derby, was the busiest of the pair and denied Garvan and Haynes.

It can only be hoped by Town that those missed opportunities, and the Berkshire official's decisions, don't come back to haunt them when the music finally stops on May 4.