Walters' goal enough to beat Rams

IT came from the faintest of touches, but Jon Walters' goal was enough to give Ipswich a win over 10-men Derby and end 2008 on a happy note.

Derek Davis

IT came from the faintest of touches, but Jon Walters' goal was enough to give Ipswich a win over 10-men Derby and end 2008 on a happy note.

It may not have been the happiest of years and Town still look decidedly average but they can go into the new year with renewed hope and see what Marcus Evans' money can conjure up in the January transfer window.

After being doubled by Birmingham on Boxing Day, the Blues were able to complete their first home and away win over a side with their first win at Derby in five-and-a-half years.

There may now be two 'Magilton Out' banners, but the 1,285 Ipswich fans were in good voice at Pride Park as they got behind their team.

This time was the Derby fans calling for their manager's head as they slumped to their sixth league defeat in nine games, going back to win Town beat them 2-0 at Portman Road, which was also Town's last clean sheet.

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The winning goal came out of nowhere as Alan Quinn played a ball back to Ben Thatcher who delivered into the box. Jon Walters ran across Stephen Bywater, unsighting the former Town loanee keeper, and glanced the ball past him off his shoulder before it went in off the far post.

Although Bywater made a good save from Kevin Lisbie, who once had a loan spell with Derby, he didn't have much else to do as Town went about shutting up shop.

That meant a nervy time for the defence and a busy afternoon for Richard Wright.

They were helped when Jordan Stewart was shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on David Norris, but even so they were clinging on against a very ordinary Derby side.

The Rams lost Nathan Ellington after eight minutes after he injured a hamstring closing down Thatcher and went off with Luke Varney taking his place.

Nacer Barazite flashed a shot wide and keeper Richard Wright got behind another 25 yarder from on-loan Arsenal winger.

The Town keeper did well and he was helped enormously by Ben Thatcher who headed a Stewart cross over the bar under pressure from Varney.

Town survived a goalmouth scramble in the first half and showed great spirit as they survived a barrage in the second half.

Substitute Stephen Davies got the better of Iván Campo and unleashed shot from the edge of the area that beat Wright, but came back off a post.

An ankle injury meant Danny Haynes didn't make it, so Walters started up front with Lisbie.

The only the change was Veliche Shumulikoski returned to the heart of midfield with Jon Stead dropping to the bench

The Macedonian midfielder has been linked with a move to Fulham in the January window, with Middlesbrough, West Ham and Wigan also thought to be interested in the player dropped for the past two winless games for Town.

Owen Garvan has been struggling with a stomach bug, while David Wright is close to recovering from a hamstring, but there was no place in the 16 for club captain Richard Naylor.

Town had not won at Pride Park since Matt Holland scored in his final Ipswich appearance in the 4-1 win at the end of the 2002-03 season and

It was the Blues first away win since the 1-0 victory at Blackpool at the beginning of November and gives them some hope of getting back on track.

The team will no doubt carry on believing they can reach the play offs, but all too often Town fans have been lulled into a sense of revival only to be left disappointed and this win over a poor Derby side that are sliding towards the bottom will not convince the realists that town are play off contenders.

Derby go into 2009 with Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final a week on Wednesday to look forward too.

Ipswich? Well they can progress in the FA Cup against Chesterfield, or Droylsden, and hope to beat Sheffield Wednesday at home and at least flirt with a top ten finish.