Town performance was solid enough

AS stepping stones go this was solid enough.

Derek Davis

AS stepping stones go this was solid enough.

Although too tentative for many supporters, it was another away point and a second clean sheet in three games, while the Blues boss clearly saw the performance as a step in the right direction.

Compared to the away record of last year, when Jim Magilton's side picked up just five points going into February, to have five after four road trips by the end of September marks a big improvement.

There were also signs that the team is being to gel and the belief within the Town camp is that they are set to embark on a winning set of results.

They need to as a total of just eight points after seven games is hardly promotion form, in fact it is decidedly mid-table pretty much like their display at Sheffield Wednesday.

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Yes, Town could have won it by a couple of goal at the end and were denied by three top class saves from Lee Grant.

But conversely Ipswich could have already been three down after being second best in the first half.

Starting with a conservative 4-4-2 in the first half Magilton made just the two changes. Gareth McAuley back from injury replaced Pim Balkestein who many observers felt was outstanding at Southampton but the manager didn't.

Veliche Shumulikoski replaced Tommy Miller in midfield with Magilton feeling the former Sunderland player was feeling the effects of the previous two games.

It looked like it was Owen Garvan who was below par with some poor passing and gave the ball away early on which allowed Marcus Tudgay the opportunity to stride forward and rap the crossbar with a thunderous drive.

His striker partner Jermaine Johnson made a right pig's ear of the attempted follow up and Ipswich escaped.

Tudgay also went close with a stooping header from an Etienne Esajas free kick that floated over the bar.

They also got off lightly when Richard Wright saved from Johnson and when Steve Watson was allowed to dribble his way past at least three Town players but the effort left him too tired to hit a powerful shot and it trickled to a relieved Blues keeper.

Pablo Counago missed out after turning an ankle in training, although would have been in contention as Jon Walters and Jon Stead started up front but neither made a big impression.

Although Town had showed glimpses of their ability to pass and move they gave the ball away too easily to put themselves under pressure.

Richard Naylor made two vital blocks to deny Watson and Johnson and Shumi made an important clearance off Esajas' feet.

It was only when Town reverted to the system that worked to some extent at Southampton did they look threatening.

David Norris went to the tip of a triangle with Shumi and Garvan sitting deeper, with Walters going to the right and Alan Quinn on the left.

The Blues applied the pressure in the final half hour with Quinn going wide from 25 yards and then hitting a low shot that grant did well to get down to and push away following good work from David Wright and a chipped pass from Garvan.

Kevin Lisbie replaced Stead to inject some pace into the attack but with Wednesday hanging on and the defence stretched Magilton decided against adding the pace and threat of Danny Haynes who got changed and ready to go on but sat back down again.

Norris twice almost found the winner by pushing into the box. The £2.2m signing from Plymouth first cleverly lofted the ball over Richard Wood before hooking a volley from eight yards but great somehow got fingertips to the ball and deflected it to the underside of the crossbar.

Not long after Norris took advantage of a slip by Tommy Spurr but again Grant made a terrific reflex save.

Even though Ipswich were on to the Owls might have nicked all three points when Richard Wright dropped the ball and Tudgay tried to force it home but was denied by a combined effort from Naylor and Moritz Volz.

The Blues were very bullish afterwards and perhaps they were so comfortable during the first half when they were under the cosh, that when all the players came to the sideline for drinks while Tudgay was being treated none of the Town coaches felt the need to talk to any of them and pass on words of wisdom while Brian Laws and his assistant Russ Wilcox were cajoling and advising their team.

Time will tell if such confidence will start producing the points needed to get close to the promotion places and with 39 games to go they are only eight points away from the top two, which should not be a step too far for a team with the resources Magilton has at his disposal.

With two home league games to come against two of the bottom four sides, the maximum six points is not just a realistic expectation but a necessity.