Trouble on the road for Town

SEVEN home wins in a row but just one away point this season shows a complete imbalance in Ipswich Town's form so Derek Davis looks at why it is so.WHILE Fortress Portman Road is once again looking impenetrable results on the road continue to cripple Ipswich Town's progress.

By Derek Davis

SEVEN home wins in a row but just one away point this season shows a complete imbalance in Ipswich Town's form so Derek Davis looks at why it is so.

WHILE Fortress Portman Road is once again looking impenetrable results on the road continue to cripple Ipswich Town's progress.

Manager Jim Magilton insists they don't treat home or away games any differently.

They don't change training depending on where they will be performing and the mindset is said to be the same.

But clearly there is a problem as soon as the Blues leave the comfort of home.

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It is not a particularly new phenomenon but Magilton is determined to start picking up wins on the road.

While the Blues have won nine of their 15 home matches, without any draws, they have won just twice in 16 away games this calendar year.

This inequity has cost them cup progress in two competitions and at least a top 10 finish last season.

If it continues then all the good work done at home in this campaign will be wasted again.

Victories at Hull when Alan Lee inspired a 5-2 thumping and a 2-0 win at relegation-bound Luton have been the only league success on the road in 2007.

If you pore over the ProZone stats you will see Town players work just as hard - most of the time they have similar stats in terms of ball possession - and even against the likes of West Brom and Watford they have enjoyed their own purple patches.

But even though they create chances Town just don't score enough goals as visitors and therein lies the problem.

Town have tried lining up differently away from home with an attack-minded three up front, although it can be a defensive set-up if the two widemen drop back to help out.

But teams, on their own patch and so expected to press forward, quickly exploit any gaps and Town quite often find themselves on the back foot.

We have also seen how Pablo Counago drops deeper when away from home, looking to link with the midfield, who are sat back, and so when the ball gets into the box he is not always there and a lonely Alan Lee is generally the sole target.

Jon Walters has often found himself pushed over to the left and as a player still getting to terms with playing wide right, it takes some adjusting.

At home Walters is magnificent on the right providing crosses, or cutting inside and also arriving late when balls come from Gary Roberts or Dan Harding on the left.

Of course we know Roberts is not firing on all cylinders but when he plays on the left of a four-man middle he provides balance, and he seems to lift his game at home.

Although he may not produce a lot of quality these days he can generally be relied upon to conjure up at least one piece of magic, such as his cross for Walters on Saturday, his wonder goal against Sheffield Wednesday and another vital assist against Palace.

On the road when he has played he has looked a little lost. But he has not been on his own.

For the most part the Town midfield has gone missing. At Plymouth George O'Callaghan got through a mountain of work but too often he was having to go as far back as his own box to collect the ball.

It seems that Owen Garvan and Tommy Miller struggle to take control of the midfield when they are used away, while Sylvain Legwinski is struggling to find form.

The defence comes under more pressure and inevitably cracks with late lapses in concentration still a concern.

It could all be down to tactics, more probably it is a mental thing and of course us just talking about it adds pressure.

Maybe it is down to the new coach, four-wheeled variety, or the choice of hotels - all very unlikely but whatever it is Magilton and his (football) coaches need to find a remedy.

A win at Hull would help but that needs to be swiftly followed up with another at Burnley the Tuesday after and then QPR - all very winnable games - or the rot will set in again.

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