Praise be to the coach!

KEVIN Lisbie quite rightly took the plaudits for his two goals that rescued a point for Ipswich against a very ordinary Coventry City but it is the scouting system headed up by Steve McCall that deserves a special mention.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

KEVIN Lisbie quite rightly took the plaudits for his two goals that rescued a point for Ipswich against a very ordinary Coventry City but it is the scouting system headed up by Steve McCall that deserves a special mention.

He obviously identified the Sky Blues' weakness and Town changed their formation and personnel to fully exploit them.


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City played a high line and with two central defenders who are ponderous and fairly static and invited balls over the top for speedsters Kevin Lisbie and Danny Haynes to run on to.

Indeed that is exactly how Town got their equaliser as Richard Wright kicked long from just outside his area and the ball was flicked on by Jon Stead, his second vital header in as many matches, and Lisbie won his tussle with Ben Turner, perhaps with the use of an hand, and he beat Kieran Westwood with a good low shot.

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That was a mighty relief all round after going behind so early.

It took Coventry less time to score than it did for Jim Magilton to storm out of his pre-match written-press conference on Friday.

Clinton Morrison took advantage of poor Ipswich defending to put City ahead after just 39 seconds and a banner demanding 'Magilton Out' was again hoisted.

But City failed to press their advantage and looked a nervous side, allowing Ipswich to get a foothold in the game with Stead, operating wide left, and Haynes wide right, stretching the City defence.

Then Town became sloppy for a period and almost allowed city to take the lead before half time, especially when Aron Gunnarsson hit the frae of the goal with a shot.

They also needed Richard Naylor to be alert when Stead lost the ball and McAuley hit a stray back pass that Morrison almost exploited.

After the break it was Town looking good for a while but by now City's confidence had grown and they took advantage of a slip by Naylor as he failed to deal with a ball through from Daniel fox and Freddy Eastwood made up for earlier misses by finishing well.

Eastwood also hit a post and if he assed to Michael Mifsud instead of trying to go it alone town could have been buried.

Instead Lisbie snatched his sixth goal of the season after Jay Tabb inadvertently set him up and Westwood was unable to save the unmarked striker's shot.

Lisbie might have had his hat-trick with a goal chalked off for offside and header he felt had crossed the line before being cleared, while Stead was denied too by a good Westwood save.

It was especially pleasing to see Lisbie score and play so well. He has been unfairly criticised in some quarters, not this one, and this was an example of what he is capable of and why he was bought from Colchester.

Both sides were as bad, or good depending on your point of view, as each other but Ipswich seemed happier with the point than City whose ambition, as stated by Chris Coleman, is to finish mid-table.

Certainly the 1005 travelling Town fans seemed as relieved as they were happy at the final whistle.

Ipswich's ambition remain much grander but even in a league as unpredictable as the Championship, their play-off hopes look increasingly slimmer as each game goes by.

Of course Town are 'only' five points behind sixth-placed Crystal Palace but the other sides are pulling away and it is hard to see 12th-placed Town closing the gap on them, unless you are wearing blue-tinted spectacles.

There was no questioning the effort of the players, even after going down so early and what both teams lacked in real quality they made up for in endeavour which made for an open and exciting game.

After three straight defeats on the road, Town needed to try something different and by going 4-3-3 they baffled City somewhat.

Lisbie, made his first start in six games, Alan Quinn his first since Doncaster in mid-November while Haynes has had to wait since August.

Veliche Shumulikoski was rested, allowing Tommy Miller to come in with David Norris and Quinn playing a tight three in the middle supporting the three attackers.

Although 15-year-old Connor Wickham made the trip for experience, there was still no room in Jim Magilton's 16 for £10,000 a week Iván Campo and with Owen Garvan, along with Ben Thatcher, back from suspension for the Birmingham City game on Boxing day, it is unlikely the Spaniard will feature any game soon.

Unless, of course, the scout provides another comprehensive report about a future opponent that can produce another tactical switch.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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