Monday verdict: An East Anglian derby draw to build upon for Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy shakes hands with Norwich manager Alex Neil. Picture: Steve Wal

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy shakes hands with Norwich manager Alex Neil. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

This was an East Anglian derby draw to build upon.

Ipswich Town may have shared the points with bitter rivals Norwich City at Portman Road following yesterday lunchtime’s 1-1 draw, but there was only one winner when comparing the teams’ performances.

The Blues burst out the traps and played with a greater intensity and desire for virtually the entire game.

And, just like in the goalless draw at Wolves last Tuesday, there was more than just graft, grit and spirit to be proud of as Mick McCarthy’s evolving style of play gained a little bit more momentum.

Man-of-the-match Grant Ward is increasingly looking like a bargain buy at £600k from Tottenham. The flying right-winger was a constant menace with his pace, trickery and crosses into the box.

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Fellow summer signing Adam Webster may still be a little rough around the edges, but there were once again signs of his huge potential as a ball-playing centre-back.

Striker Daryl Murphy looks a handful again and, for long periods, bullied an £8.5m centre-back in the form of Timm Klose.

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Veteran midfielder Jonathan Douglas, so often the scapegoat among supporters during the flat end to last season, has confounded his critics with two energetic and effective displays, while goalscoring left-back Jonas Knudsen is becoming increasingly accomplished in the Championship following the steady learning curve of a year in English football.

This wasn’t just a positive performance against cross-border enemies, but a positive performance against a multi-million pound outfit that has spent four of the last five years in the Premier League. Forward Steve Naismith was scoring a hat-trick against Chelsea for Everton less than a year ago. Yesterday he barely got a sniff.

Perhaps the gap in class between the Blues and the big-spenders in this division isn’t as big as many feared after all.

McCarthy, typically, called for emotional consistency afterwards. One bad second half at Brentford didn’t warrant the doom and gloom which followed. Two decent displays shouldn’t have anyone getting carried away either. Town have, after all, still only won eight out of 25 league games in 2016.

Five points from a possible 12 may have Ipswich in the bottom half, but you have to look beyond the league table at this early stage of the season. Replicate the last two performances on a regular basis and they will undoubtedly be up there competing for a play-off place again.

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