Town look on the road to nowhere

SAME old, same old.Plunged into the depths of despair by defeat at Norwich, a glimmer of hope after beating Bristol City, but confidence crushed by Cardiff City.

Derek Davis

SAME old, same old.

Plunged into the depths of despair by defeat at Norwich, a glimmer of hope after beating Bristol City, but confidence crushed by Cardiff City.

Half-way through this Championship campaign and Ipswich look to be going nowhere with inconsistency the only consistent thing shown by the Blues this season.

It is no wonder they sit 12th today because mid-table obscurity is where this lot deserve to be after an indifferent first 23 games.

All hopes of a top two finished evaporated weeks ago and even with another 23 games to go a play-off place looks unlikely.

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Why the negativity?

Well to get into the top six Town will surely need to amass more than 70 points and the way they are going, and there is little to indicate they are going to get any better, they would need to win at least a dozen of the remaining fixtures. Considering they managed just eight wins all season so far, and eight defeats, it doesn't seem probable.

Of course teams can go on runs, but we have been hearing that since September and sadly the best run Town have been on has incorporated too many draws.

Failure to beat the bottom sides has not helped, not good enough to beat the top sides - Reading at Portman Road the exception

so far - and rarely convincing against the teams around them means Ipswich have the look of a very average side destined to a life quite ordinary.

Disgruntled supporters, a team that does not look to be on the same page, rumours of rifts in the dressing room, unhappy players unsure of their future and a manager still learning the harsh lessons of his trade, are all contributing to the meandering of a club lacking leadership and clear direction.

It was a case in point at Portman Road against a Cardiff City side that are content to score twice in games and settle down.

They did that with disgraceful ease as Town gift-wrapped both of their goals for them with defensive mistakes that are hard to stomach.

With Alex Bruce suspended for four games, long-serving club skipper Richard Naylor was back in the heart of defence and for all the good service he has given to Ipswich Town over the 12 years or so he has been here, few will be clamouring for him to get a new contract the way virtually everyone is for Bruce.

I can't say everyone, because one man capable of getting a deal done, Marcus Evans, appears oblivious to the blinding obvious and will allow arguably their best defender to leave for nothing, either in January or next summer.

Although it was team captain Gareth McAuley that made the glaring error that led to Jay Bothroyd to sweeping the ball into the net on eight minutes, the whole back line was culpable.

Moritz Volz, in what was the trend all afternoon, was beaten all ends up by Paul Parry who crossed and the unmarked Wayne Routledge had evaded Ben Thatcher to nod across goal and McAuley failed to clear.

When Parry delivered a free kick midway through the first half, the defence was in turmoil and Cardiff centre half brought the ball down unchallenged for his defensive partner Gabor Gyepes to drive in unmolested.

It was the Hungarian's first goal and he probably won't have an easier chance this season.

Cardiff looked as if they were going to go on and enjoy a goal fest with Gavin Rae and Joe Ledley controlling midfield and the two wide men romping in the space allowed.

But McAuley made amends for his earlier error by saving off the line, and painfully colliding with a post, when he got back to clear a Michael Chopra effort after he had rounded Richard Wright following a mistake by Volz.

Town will have been relieved to see Chopra limp off because Bothroyd missed his company and replacement Eddie Johnson was so bad Dave Jones subbed the sub in the second half.

Wright made a couple of good saves but outdid himself in the second half when he got down to claw away a Bothroyd, one-handed off the line and touched another Routledge effort onto the crossbar and away.

Ipswich's only decent piece of football was rewarded and it was sinner Thatcher who started the move with a crunching tackling on Ledley to win the ball which was played out to Jon Walters.

Playing in his favoured wide-right role, Walters delivered a perfect cross and Jon stead got between the two centre halves to nod past Peter Enckelman, not bad for someone is not supposed to be able to jump and head the ball.

It raised hopes but like Town's season it merely flattered to deceive and Cardiff never looked in any real danger of losing the lead.

Any chance of a Town come back was effectively ended with six minutes of madness from the ill-disciplined Thatcher.

The referee had already had a quiet word with the former Manchester City and Charlton defender who has not long had a 15-game suspended sentence hanging over his head.

Two minutes later Thatcher clattered into Routledge and while he may claim to have got some of the ball a caution was inevitable.

Two minutes after that Routledge had the town defence in a mess again and Thatcher stuck out a leg behind him and the winger accepted the invitation and went over him on the edge of the area.

The outcome was a predictable second yellow followed by red.

Manager Jim Magilton made the necessary tactical changes, but was hit by a rain of 'you don't know what you are doing' from Town fans once more as he took off strikers Stead and Pablo Counago to put on a defender Pim Balkestein, booked for a foul on Routledge, and Danny Haynes went up front with Walters.

Although it was a frenetic finale Cardiff saw out the game, by then many of the supporters that had turned up had already left as the disenchantment grew.

Sadly it seems the same old, same old, is here for quite a while yet unless there is a marked improvement from this ordinary-looking team.