Joe calls on experience

JOE Royle needed to call upon every bit of his 22 years and 1,000 games of managerial experience to pull this result out of the bag.

By Derek Davis

Chief Football Writer

JOE Royle needed to call upon every bit of his 22 years and 1,000 games of managerial experience to pull this result out of the bag.

The Blues boss accepted an inspired substitution played its part, but so did a huge slice of luck.

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As fantastic as it was to see Shefki Kuqi hit the equaliser and the winner after Jason De Vos had pulled one back, Town had only themselves to blame for being two down in 13 minutes and then went 65 minutes a man short with Fabian Wilnis dismissed.

Royle conceded: "We had one of our dopey days at the back. We knew when we saw the team it was going to be a 4-5-1 and their one played exceptionally well and gave our two centre-backs problems.

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"We were too deep defending and too spread out as a team and I don't know if one or two players subconsciously thought it would be easy; we are Ipswich and we are at home but I certainly reminded them before the game that it would not be that easy.

"All's well that ends well, but we will need to play an awful lot better on Tuesday to beat Reading."

Royle praised the effort and spirit which prompted the fight-back and added: "If I'm honest we could have been out of the game soon after half time.

"The crowd have got to give us a bit of faith. I know there were one or two dissenters but we kept going and if we lack anything it is not honesty and the majority of the crowd roared us on.

"We got away with it a little bit but we also know that we have scored three goals and if you score three goals you deserve to win the game."

After leaving Kuqi out of the starting side for the past three games, Royle called upon the hit-man to save Town's bacon.

Royle said: "Shefki epitomised the performance. It was high on effort and honesty rather than the calibre that we have played at home.

"Fair play to Shefki, I know he is not everyone's cup of tea but you know what you will get from him.

"It is nice to see the good guys get a bit of praise and he deserves it."

Spaniard Pablo Counago was hauled off at half time with Royle again unimpressed with his contribution.

He added: "Shefki is smashing. There were one or two boos with Pablo being taken off but he wasn't working, wasn't creating anything and I know that when you are down to 10 men you need grafters and we can't get away with nine men.

"The challenge is there for Pablo. He says he wants to stay and get another contract but he has to prove it – and it starts with running."

Royle had made one change from the starting side which had beaten Rotherham, Wolves and Millwall, before a loss at Stoke City, and that was to drop Ian Westlake with Tony Dinning starting instead.

Royle said: "I took the opportunity to give Westlake a rest because he needed it. He has not been anywhere near the best form of last year and felt this would be a chance to rest him.

"We didn't have any natural left-footers out there until Matt Richards came on. I felt sorry for Tony Dinning as I didn't feel he was doing that badly, but in the name of balance we had to change it.

"It is nice when substitutes work and we got the bit of luck we needed as well."

See tomorrow's EADT for a special tribute to Joe Royle, who will take charge of his 1,000th game as a manager tomorrow against Reading

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