Naylor's strike seals vital point
AN explosive entrance by Richard Naylor salvaged Ipswich Town's play-off hopes with a point at Wolverhampton Wanderers, writes Derek Davis.The affectionately-named Bam Bam had only been of the pitch a couple of minutes when he headed in a Martijn Reuser free-kick, six minutes from time, to snatch an equaliser at Molineux.
AN explosive entrance by Richard Naylor salvaged Ipswich Town's play-off hopes with a point at Wolverhampton Wanderers, writes Derek Davis.
The affectionately-named Bam Bam had only been of the pitch a couple of minutes when he headed in a Martijn Reuser free-kick, six minutes from time, to snatch an equaliser at Molineux.
Paul Ince had given a snapping, snarling Wolves side a 49th-minute lead and the Blues' hopes of finishing in the top six looked increasingly desperate.
Dutchman Reuser had only come on two minutes earlier to replace Darren Ambrose as manager Joe Royle gambled on all-out attack to try to find a goal.
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The inspired double substitution worked and the wonderful 1,200- strong Town support almost saw their team snatch a last-second winner when a Reuser free kick from 22 yards was saved, but fumbled on the six-yard line before being scrambled to safety.
Royle said: "It is great when substitutions work. It was a terrific ball in by Martijn and a superb header from Bam Bam.
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"His future with me is as a centre-half but he can do a job as a centre-forward and I'm forever being asked by other managers who covet him in that position. You know what you get with him."
The draw moved Ipswich level on points with Norwich, who lost at home to Reading but stay in seventh on goal difference. Eighth-placed Ipswich are now seven points behind Wolves, who stay sixth, but Town have a game in hand over them.
Royle knows Town cannot afford many slip-ups from now on but insists they can still steal a top-six spot.
He said: "This point keeps us in touch with Wolves, we have a game in hand and if we can put a run together who knows? There is still a quarter of the season to go."
The cupboard was looking a bit bare but Town showed character to find that little bit extra to snatch a point, which in a small way makes up for throwing three away at home to Wolves a fortnight ago.
Royle added: "We were a bit toothless up front. We passed it around well without really hurting them. Their keeper made a great save at the end and we might have nicked it but that would have been a bit harsh on Wolves."
One worry is the growing injury list with ice packs out in number for last night's journey home.
Royle admitted: "I probably shouldn't have played Darren Ambrose but I persuaded him to play even though he is still hurt after Sunday. I'm hoping he will be better by the weekend.
"Fabian Wilnis and Matt Richards also battled through and I was disappointed not to get Marcus Bent back but his hamstring is still causing him problems."
Dean Bowditch went on at half-time in place of Jim Magilton as Town tried to get as many people forward as possible.
Through gritted teeth Wolves manager Dave Jones said: "I have no complaints. We paid the penalty for one lapse of concentration and we almost lost it right at the end with another.
"We needed a second goal but it didn't come. Sometimes people don't appreciate the quality of the opposition and for me they are one of the best teams in this division. As a neutral it must have been a great game to watch."
Ince, who now starts a two-match ban, fired Wolves ahead four minutes after the break with an acrobatic finish to sweep in Shaun Newton's cross, which was flicked on by Kenny Miller.
The Town leveller came when Bowditch was fouled 25 yards out and Reuser delivered an excellent ball for Naylor to win among a crowd of players and head powerfully downwards just inside Matt Murray's left post.
Wolves clearly did not allow their FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Southampton this weekend distract them from their play-off ambitions.