Town take giant stride towards play-offs

FIVE wins from the next seven games and Ipswich are in the play-offs.Perceived wisdom indicates a top six place could be secured with a relatively low 71 points but better to aim higher because there would be nothing worse than hitting that target and finding it is not enough.

Derek Davis

FIVE wins from the next seven games and Ipswich are in the play-offs.

Perceived wisdom indicates a top six place could be secured with a relatively low 71 points but better to aim higher because there would be nothing worse than hitting that target and finding it is not enough.

In this topsy-turvey Championship anything is possible but one thing is certain, as Hull have most recently shown, is that if you get on a run then you are in with a very good chance of at least being in the top six and the knock-out phase for promotion.

With two wins under the belt now Ipswich are timing their run to perfection.

Seventh place with a game in hand with sixth-placed Plymouth and the same amount of pints is a terrific position to be in with the next five games all against teams below them.

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Of course none will be easy because all have something to play for, be it an outside hope of making the play-offs, or battling against relegation, although in Colchester's case it may be avoiding the ignominy of being sent down by Town.

If Jim Magilton's side approach these games as they have in the past two victories then they win the lot and have the luxury of cementing their place in the top six with points against promotion contenders Wolves and Hull, and what a final game of the regular season that already promises to be.

Against Scunthorpe Ipswich had to dig in to see off a steely side with a mix of quality football and an old-fashioned roll-the-sleeves-up and get stuck in mentality.

For a start both sides had to contend with a swirling wind that literally bent Stephen Bywater's first half goal-kicks back a good five yards and made long-range passing a nonsense.

Fortunately both teams could play a decent up-tempo game and for the first 20 minutes it was pretty even with United causing early problems for the Town defence, especially through the lively Martin Paterson.

The Blues defenders put their bodies in the way of shots from Grant McCann and Jim Goodwin and survived a couple of scary moments from corners.

At the other end Counago Alan Quinn, supported by Sito on the left was pulling defenders all over the place and Pablo Counago's clever play was leaving them exposed.

It was Ipswich who got the break-through from a swift and incisive attack through the middle.

Alan Lee fed a perfect through ball for Counago who cleverly beat the offside trap and sipped the ball past the on-rushing Joe Murphy.

Scunthorpe are fighting for their Championship survival and as Magilton had warned pre-match, were prepared to do what ever it took to keep their hopes alive. That meant Counago came in for some raw, and often late, challenges and although he should have known better, reacted a couple of times before finally snapping.

Blocked off in an attempt to reach an Owen Garvan through ball he clashed with Iron centre-half Andy Butler whose elbow caught him in the chin and the Spaniard allegedly spat in his face.

On loan Chelsea teenager Jack Cork got involved hands were raised and on the advice of an assistant the referee dismissed both.

That seemed to lift Scunthorpe who quickly reorganised and put Town under immense pressure.

Town were playing on the counter and it was a swift break that led to their second goal and one of sublime quality.

Owen Garvan fed the ball wide to Sito Castro who burst into the box, weaving past a couple of defenders and avoiding another challenge, slipped the ball wide of Murphy for his first senior goal in English football.

It proved to be the winner although Sito was caught out by substitute Curtis Weston's pace who managed to get to the dead-ball line before pulling the ball back and Ben May somehow managed to squeeze the ball in at the near post.

Although Sito had played well throughout, it was a slip that could prove costly for him with Manchester United loanee making his debut, playing wide right side of midfield for 20 minutes.

Simpson is a right back, brought in to play full back which also puts a question mark over David Wright's future after he was rested earlier this year.

The 21-year-old was never going to start at Scunthorpe as he had played, and scored, for Manchester United's reserves on the Thursday night and had only met his team-mates the day before the trip to Glanford Park.

With things as tight as they are every goal conceded could be as important as ones scored if it goes to down to goal difference in the end and the best way to avoid that is to keep on winning as Town now look capable of doing.

The victory at Scunthorpe was their first ever league win against the Iron but then they have only met four times and the previous visit was nearly 50 year's ago.

Although they lost that time, Ipswich went on to be promoted to the top flight and a repeat is looking likely.