No festive feast for Town and fans

HOPES that Ipswich Town would use the festive feast of points as a springboard for a push up towards the play-off places took a battering as they lost at home for the second successive game yesterday.

Derek Davis

HOPES that Ipswich Town would use the festive feast of points as a springboard for a push up towards the play-off places took a battering as they lost at home for the second successive game yesterday.

In front of their biggest home gate of the season, Ipswich showed they lacked what it needs to challenge for the top places.

A win at Derby tomorrow would go some way to cheering up Town supporters but the feeling after this defeat by a Birmingham side that never got out of second gear, was one of painful acceptance that as we see out 2008 this season is all but over for Ipswich.

Of course we will get the odd good day between now and May where a win will suddenly perk up interest but it is becoming very clear that it is pointless to get too excited because as sure as night follows day a setback will follow and Town will be back where they started and are likely to finish - mid-table.

The growing number of 'Magilton Out' dissenters voiced their disapproval towards the end of the game but the visual impact of a banner was lost when stewards refused to allow it to be raised and tried to confiscate said offensive item.

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One can only wonder if Marcus Evans is aware of the depth of feeling and if he was at the game, what his thoughts are on the malaise afflicting his club.

For all Town huffed and puffed once City scored through a James McFadden penalty, it never really looked as if they would get anything from the game.

Birmingham were so comfortable that they never even called upon top scorer Kevin Phillips, who was on the bench after being told he could enjoy a day of rest until he was needed for their Sunday match at home to Swansea.

City never really looked like a side destined for the Premiership but then they did not need to against an Ipswich side that lacked any guile or cutting edge.

There was a period - for the first 20 minutes or so - when Ipswich were very bright but they never really troubled Maik Taylor in the City goal.

David Norris bustled in the middle, Tommy Miller was used for virtually all set plays and had the occasional pop from long range, while Alan Quinn played some neat balls.

For all their play though it was not until the 27th minute that their best chance came when Danny Haynes crossed, picking up an injury in doing so, and Jon Stead's half volley was blocked by Radhi Jaidi.

City threatened but they never really bothered Richard Wright. Cameron Jerome hit a right-footed shot high over the bar, and that was about it.

Seven minutes before the break though Birmingham were handed, quite literally, the lead.

Having not had a shot on target previously they were awarded a penalty when on-loan Fulham defender Moritz Volz needlessly handled a right-wing cross by Kemy Agustein.

James McFadden sent Richard Wright the wrong way and tucked the spot kick away.

What Town needed in the second half was a gritty performance laced with quality…

What they produced was plenty of effort but City had too much about them and happily dealt with the little Town had to offer.

Twin centre-backs Liam Ridgewell and Radhi Jaidi were too solid to allow Taylor be troubled too much

The Town supporters did their bit and got behind the team but after a couple of bursts of 'Come On Ipswich' and 'Come on You Blues' their frustration and impatience was echoed in the chant 'what a load of rubbish'.

Although he stuck with the same formation that picked up a point at Coventry, Magilton sprang a surprise by bringing back Iván Campo into the starting line-up in place of Richard Naylor, who was dropped from the 16.

Free signing Campo had not played since the 2-2 draw with Swansea when he and Jon Walters fell out so publically and the row carried on behind closed doors.

The Spaniard had not even been named in the 16 since that game on October 18.

With David Wright out with a hamstring strain, Ben Thatcher came back following his one-match ban and impressed again at left-back. Shame the same could not be said about right-back Volz.

Although Owen Garvan was available after suspension he missed out due to a stomach bug and so Town stuck with the three-man midfield and three forwards, that had done well enough at Coventry.

They were disrupted when Haynes, playing wide right, pulled up lame and was replaced by Jon Walters - not a bad back-up.

Stead operated wide left and was winning plenty of ball for Kevin Lisbie attacking through the middle. In terms of entertainment it was not a bad game with both sides making mistakes and the ball went from one end to the other quite swiftly yet neither keeper was particularly busy.

Wright tipped an Agustein shot around a post, while Taylor was well placed to take a low free kick hit by substitute Darren Ambrose.

The on-loan Charlton winger also hit a weak header straight at Taylor from a Walters cross, while Campo curled a free kick wide.

Town survived when City twice got beyond their back line and crosses hit by McFadden and Jerome along the six-yard box failed to find a finisher.

Lisbie attempted a late equaliser but Nicky Hunt cleared his lines but many Town fans had already headed home, not with any real anger, just an acceptance that this very ordinary Ipswich side is going nowhere.