Town fall short again

IN many ways this game, and result, encapsulates what is threatening to happen to Town's season.They promised so much, went tantalisingly close to actually delivering but ultimately fell short.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

IN many ways this game, and result, encapsulates what is threatening to happen to Town's season.

They promised so much, went tantalisingly close to actually delivering but ultimately fell short.

There is a danger, even with the season just approaching the half-way point, that Ipswich don't have enough about them to fulfil the potential and find the edge that will take them above their competitors.

For the most part Town worked hard, created chances, defended stoically and were organised and disciplined. What they lacked though was that little extra bit of something special that was needed to beat a good Sheffield united side that lacked inspiration too.

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Had Ipswich managed to hang on to their half-time lead from a Tommy Miller penalty then they would have managed to finally clamber into a play off place, instead they are today where they started on Saturday, in 11th place.

That is mainly because substitute Alan Quinn handed his old club Sheffield United a lifeline as they continue to try and chase the top two who are threatening to run away with automatic promotion, with Reading also in hot pursuit.

Like Miller, who has a 100 per cent record with his 26 spot kicks in competitive games, James Beattie was emphatic from 12 yards and United garnered a point they probably just about deserved.

Even so it was another two points thrown away for Ipswich who had enough chances to have made sure. Pablo Counago hit a post, Jon Stead had plenty of shooting opportunities but perhaps he was too anxious against his old club and never found the clinical finished that he had against the likes of QPR and Reading for example.

Centre half Alex Bruce twice went close, once with a header from a Darren Ambrose corner and the other when United failed to clear a corner and it fell invitingly to him but with keeper Paddy Kenny totally out of position, Bruce drove his 12-yard shot at Gary Naysmith who was able to head clear.

The Blades had their chances too and Richard Wright made a sublime save to deny Matthew Kilgallon who fired in a powerful header from a Brian Howard corner but the Town keeper somehow managed to deflect it away with his forearm.

Kilgallon was the Sheffield villain after he handled a Stead cross to concede the penalty. The offence was spotted by assistant Justin Comley who advised referee Dean Whitestone who had missed it and the mach officials worked together well again late in the game for United's penalty.

If Kilgallon's was needless then substitute Quinn's was bordering on nonsensical as he stretched to push away a Beattie who with the Town player about 14 yards from his goal-line and Wright comfortably placed.

Both managers had made replacements with Kevin Blackwell throwing three big men forward as Darius Henderson went on for Halford who had gone to right back after starting in midfield, while Danny Webber had replaced the ineffective Billy Sharp.

With the extra height and firepower up front Town threw on Richard Naylor as a third centre back with the idea of using David Wright and Moritz Volz as counter attacking wing backs with Kevin Lisbie capable of exposing the weakened Blades defence.

Magilton had already put Quinn on, knowing how much he wanted to do well against his old club, and brother Stephen on the other wing, and a tiring Ambrose made way.

It backfired in an unexpected way in the 90th minute and even though there were three extra minutes and Town went for it they did not have enough about them to win after failing to close out the game.

The Blues go to Norwich on Sunday and face a side that are stuggling to avoid getting sucked into the relegation zone. Ipswich should have Owen Garvan back after he missed this draw with a virus, that he passed on to the manager, while Jon Walters is expected to be fit after failing a fitness test on a hamstring problem stemming from a sciatica nerve.

After this, and the draw against Charlton, Magilton will know his side have to start showing a ruthlessness when they get their noses in front and need to step up a gear if they are to force their way into the top six.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk