Jim ready for tougher times ahead

IT was smiles and handshakes all round after Jim Magilton took charge of his first game as Ipswich manager, but he knows that it will soon be time to show a harder edge.

By Derek Davis

IT was smiles and handshakes all round after Jim Magilton took charge of his first game as Ipswich manager, but he knows that it will soon be time to show a harder edge.

The result, with Nicky Forster converting a 40th minute penalty which he had won, and a last minute equaliser from Anthony Elding, was not particularly relevant but it is another step for Magilton.

After playing two completely different XI's in each half, Magilton didn't even have to worry too much about upsetting anyone by leaving them out.

But he knows some tough and important decisions lay not to far ahead and he is ready to implement them.

First will be to say thanks but no thanks to at least one of the three trialists who played 45 minutes at Boston. Eugen Bopp, released by Nottingham Forest, is unlikely to be asked back, even though he had three decent chances in the first half but failed to nail any.

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The Ukrainian-born German national, who is good friends with Germany's World Cup star Phillip Lahm, didn't particularly impress on the left side of midfield and looked no better than what Town already have.

Deciding on Frenchman Alexis Bertin may take a bit longer for Magilton, who shouted himself hoarse during the entire 90 minutes.

The Le Havre midfielder is not the biggest, yet made some good tackles playing in front of the back four, although referee Kevin Wright didn't like many of them.

Bertin is likely to be given a second look in Galway on Wednesday, after combining well with Gavin Williams, who sparkled in central midfield.

Colin Healy, whose quality was apparent his second half stint, is another who is likely to be given at least another week, although Motherwell are keen on him and Magilton may have to make his mind up quickly with him.

Another big choice looming for Magilton is Darren Currie's future.

Crystal Palace, Hull City and Leeds are all believed to be keen on Currie, with Kevin Blackwell reportedly ready to offer unhappy Northern Ireland striker David Healy in exchange.

Although Currie, who was one of Town's players of the year, is perfectly happy at Portman Road, he just has one year left on his current contract and if an acceptable new deal is not offered may consider leaving, while the Blues will also want to cash in now rather than see the club's top goal-maker leave for nothing next summer.

Magilton will have seen enough to help him make some of those decisions but it was also a day to remember for the Ulsterman.

He said: “It was a pretty exciting day for me and I enjoyed it immensely. I did not want to do a Churchillian-style speech but got carried away - especially bearing in mind it was Boston in pre-season.

“I really enjoyed it. I have fantastic staff and they helped me, as they knew what a day it was for me. That was the first time I have picked a team in my life.

“I gave everyone a run out but, as pre-season builds up, we get close to our starting line-up and tough decisions will be made.

“It was to give everyone 45 minutes. We want to keep people on their toes. There are 11 shirts up for grabs and we want it to be competitive for everyone, with no comfort zones.”

Town won this corresponding fixture 5-2 last year but it didn't do them much good as they ended up with their worst league position in 40 years.

With so many players used in two mixed sides, it was too early to gauge accurately how different Magilton's side will be, although there were signs that not much is different, with the Blues creating a host of wasted chances and being caught out defensively late on.

Magilton said: “I'm not too disappointed with the result. Goals give strikers confidence and it was good for Nicky to carry on where he left off. He and Dean Bowditch combined very well. Dean had a couple of little half-chances and their overall play was very good.

“Some passages of play in the second half were very good. Darren Currie supplied some fantastic crosses for Sam (Parkin), who needs a goal. So we are going to try and get him a couple of goals in pre-season to help build his confidence.

“Sito was outstanding, as was Gavin Williams, so it was a good 45 minutes.

“It was a really good work out and we have to thank Boston for that and they tried to play. We showed a good tempo first half and looked pretty sharp

“In the second half we chopped and changed and tried a different shape but we made enough chances to win the game comfortably. But we lacked that bit of zip, although that will come after games.

“Their application and attitude has been first class and all did reasonably well.”

In front of around 2,000 fans, made up of predominantly Ipswich supporters, Town went ahead when Boston skipper Paul Ellender pulled back Forster, who beat former Blues' loanee Andy Marriott from the spot.

Elding took advantage of slack defensive play to beat Shane Supple, who had earlier made some good saves, while Sammy Moore had cleared off the line.

Boston United: Starting XI: Marriott, Canonville, Ryan, Ellender, Greaves, Albrighton, Farrell, Green, Tait, Clarke, Galbraith. Substitutes used: Kirby, Chinn, Norris, Talbot, Holland, Elding, Joachim, Parslow, Moran, Wall.

Ipswich Town: First-half XI: Price, Sito, Krause, Casement, De Vos, Williams, Peters, Bertin, Forster, Bowditch, Bopp.

Second-half XI: Supple, Currie, Moore, Naylor, Wilnis, Barron, Skard, Healy, Westlake, Clarke, Parkin.

Referee: Kevin Wright.

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