Town crash no surprise to Gannon

IPSWICH Town are the “worst second half team” in the Championship.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town are the “worst second half team” in the Championship.

These words were uttered, ironically, by the manager of the club who are rock bottom of the table.

Town have fallen apart too many times this season, after promising starts, and that was again the case as Roy Keane's men slumped to a dismal 3-1 defeat at basement dwellers Peterborough on a dismal Tuesday night.

Incredibly, the last nine goals to be conceded by Town have all been leaked during the second half of games. This is no coincidence; it's a big problem.

Posh boss Jim Gannon, who has only been on the London Road hot seat for a few weeks, revealed that he was not surprised by his side's second half revival, after Town had nursed a 1-0 lead at the interval.

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And that was down to Town's familiar lacklustre second-half display, as much as Peterborough's dramatic improvement.

In a damning statement, Gannon insisted: “If I'm being truthful, then yes, I could see it coming.

“Having seen the Ipswich game at QPR, Ipswich have been the worst performing second half team in matches.

“So I'm not surprised.

“In the first half-hour we looked poor. Then we made a change and straight away Reuben (Reid) gave us width and penetration, and Liam (Dickinson) was much better on his own.

“There were signs from then on that we were more purposeful. I had a good feeling about the lads at half-time.

“I was a bit disappointed with some of the negative comments from the fans aimed towards both myself and the players in the first half, because I always felt we could go on to get something from the game.

“That's exactly what happened. I'm delighted for the whole team because they put in an immense amount of effort in the second half,” added Gannon.

The second 45 minutes were desperately disappointing for Ipswich, for the management staff, the players and the 2,737 fans who had made the midweek trip into Cambridgeshire. But this was no one-off scenario.

Even though Town had won their previous away game, 2-1 at Loftus Road, that was another prime example of a classic “game of two halves.”

Town were coasting at the break, 2-0 up and in complete control, only for QPR to then turn the screw in the second period. It was the Suffolk club hanging on grimly to their narrow advantage at the end, when really they should have been well out of sight.

So why these second-half capitulations?

Keane insists that it is nothing to do with his players' fitness levels. Indeed, he has always claimed that his team are amongst the fittest in the Championship.

Instead, the problem seems to be twofold.

Firstly, Town are unable to kill off teams, when they are on top.

Secondly, and more worryingly, they appear to crack under pressure as the games wear on.

This was the case earlier this season, especially away from home at the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield United and Barnsley, when late goals robbed them of vital points.

And it's happened again more recently, in the home match against West Brom (conceding a late equaliser) and on the road at QPR and Peterborough.

In fact, Town have kissed goodbye to a potential six Championship points, due to indifferent second-half performances during their last four fixtures in the league.

They let slip all three points at Peterborough, when leading at half-time courtesy of Daryl Murphy's goal, and although the backs-to-the-wall finale at QPR was not costly, Town did drop two points in their last home game against Middlesbrough, after leading 1-0 at the break and eventually drawing 1-1.

The sixth point was lost at Preston - a goalless half-time score was transformed into a 2-0 defeat by the final whistle.

Town also conceded an injury-time equaliser at home to West Brom, although the scores were level at 0-0 at the break.

It is clear, therefore, that Keane must sort out these second-half wobbles, otherwise Town might disappear through the trap door and into League One.