Miller causes Mackems misery
TOMMY Miller struck the penalty that sunk Sunderland then promptly celebrated by going to dinner with 10 Mackems, writes Derek Davis.The Ipswich Town midfielder maintained his 100% conversion rate of spot kicks to keep the Blues on course for a top six finish – and possible Premiership promotion.
TOMMY Miller struck the penalty that sunk Sunderland then promptly celebrated by going to dinner with 10 Mackems, writes Derek Davis.
The Ipswich Town midfielder maintained his 100% conversion rate of spot kicks to keep the Blues on course for a top six finish – and possible Premiership promotion.
But the Scotland international-in-waiting broke the hearts of his prospective in-laws in doing so, and badly dented Sunderland's hopes of an automatic promotion place.
Miller, who was born in Easington and joined Ipswich the second time round, from Hartlepool, said: "I come from near there – I'm not a die-hard Sunderland fan, but more them than Newcastle.
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"A lot of my girlfriend's family are staunch supporters and they came down but I will still be smiling all week."
The mood in the Town camp is a far cry from a week ago when they lost at home to West Brom, and Miller remembers telling the EADT how important it was for them to get back to winning ways. The Blues' response has been to gain six points from six and rocket from ninth to fourth, three points ahead of sixth-placed Wigan.
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Miller said: "I said in that interview that we needed to bounce back and we have had two massive wins, and that keeps us right in there."
The penalty just on half-time was Miller's 11th goal of the season but he was quick to praise the architects Ian Westlake and Darren Bent.
"It was a definite penalty. Ian, who was outstanding, played it in for Darren and his pace beat the keeper."
And he admitted it was a terrific all-round team showing and improved defensive mentality.
He said: "We have all pulled together. The basic shape was brilliant and made it hard for Sunderland to get through us because in recent weeks, like against West Brom, we have been too easy to get through."
Blues boss Joe Royle was effusive in his praise for fans and players alike.
He said: "In terms of free-flowing football we have played better here and lost. But we had a plan and everyone stuck to it, and it was a great team performance. We were determined not to be caught out as we have done before.
"Everyone gave their all and in 11 man of the matches I would have shaded it to John McGreal or Ian Westlake.
"Also, the crowd – they were ten out of ten. In the last couple of games they have realised they can play a big part and they were superb."
The manner of the win was important and Ipswich will be looking for more of the same as they go into the final regular season run in.
Royle said: "Realistically, we might have had a second goal and we have kept a clean sheet, which we have not been able to say too often.
"We have not had too many tight games. We have tended to either win or lose games when we have lost when we were the better team. But this was the sort of performance we should have had more of this season. It was functional, rather than inspirational, but better than inspirational and losing."
"If we can win two out of the four that will give us a strong chance, but we would like to win all four. We are not past the post yet, but sides up there do have to play each other and are taking points off each other so we are in with a good chance."
Dutch defender Fabian Wilnis made his 200th Town appearance after being dropped for the win at Rotherham and performed well. Royle said: "I was pleased with Fabian – he responded well."
Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy had no gripes about the penalty award but didn't feel Sunderland deserved to lose. He said: "We were the better side in the first half and had chances then to score. But once they got the penalty and scored it gave them a huge psychological fillip. It looked a penalty to me, so no complaints there.
"Maybe it is a sign of how far we have come that I'm disappointed to come to Ipswich and lose."
The former Republic of Ireland manager was impressed with the reception Marcus Stewart was given by the Town fans when he went on as a 66th-minute substitute.
He said: "It would have been interesting to see the reception if he had scored. But it is good to see a player come back to a club and be recognised and appreciated for what he did instead of getting abuse because he is playing for the opposition. It was nice, but then you would expect that from Ipswich fans."