Never mind the quality

NEVER mind the quality – feel those three points.Quite how Ipswich are in a position to challenge Reading tomorrow for top spot, no one can be sure.They will thank Shefki Kuqi for two wonderful goals to give them victory and heave a sigh of relief that Plymouth's finishing deserted them early in the second half.

NEVER mind the quality – feel those three points.

Quite how Ipswich are in a position to challenge Reading tomorrow for top spot, no one can be sure.

They will thank Shefki Kuqi for two wonderful goals to give them victory and heave a sigh of relief that Plymouth's finishing deserted them early in the second half.

Spirit, belief and experience at coming from behind, all help but questions will also be asked this morning on how they got themselves into such a situation – again.


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Fortunately Joe Royle was able to call on 1,000 games of managerial experience – the milestone will be reached tomorrow against Reading – to turn it around.

Two goals down after 13 minutes, a man down 13 minutes after that, and playing so poorly if people had sloped off to go shopping, or even the watch the cricket, it would have been understandable.

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Then again this is Ipswich Town, who have made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and Barbara Windsor combined.

This even compared to the stunning victory over Sheffield United 18 months ago when they had Pablo Counago dismissed, were two down after 50 minutes and the two Darrens, Bent (two) and Ambrose, came up trumps.

Things started fine enough, Jim Magilton was playing balls into Darren Bent's path with comforting regularity, unfortunately the newly-nicknamed 'Bobby' was more Ball than Charlton.

He did tuck one chance away but was marginally offside and later provided a great goal assist.

A mere 12 minutes had gone when Argyle threaten to destroy 'Fortress' Portman Road in a way they probably didn't even dare to think possible.

Having just Stevie Crawford up front showed their attacking intent and yet the Scottish international was excellent. He caused problems with his clever running and, Town forwards take note, rarely gave away possession.

Their goal came as a bit of a surprise as was the simplicity in which it was executed.

Northern Ireland international Tony Capaldi was allowed the freedom to reach the dead-ball line before crossing to the back post where an unmarked Steve Adams got a good connection with his header.

Kelvin Davis flew across and looked to have got behind it, but both he and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Less than two minutes later and stunned Ipswich were rocked again.

The usually-dependable Kevin Horlock nodded a header back to no one in particular, and the Blues back line were impotent to halt Crawford, who cut across Richard Naylor before drilling in a low shot inside a post from 16 yards.

Crawford had earlier served warning on Town by racing on to a through-ball while the defence waited for an offside flag that never came and Davis did well to push away his shot.

The newly-promoted side out-passed Town, worked a lot harder and were overall sharper in a lop-sided first half.

Drissa Diallo missed a good headed chance although Jason De Vos showed how it was done when he got above Graham Coughlan and nodded in a Magilton corner for his second Blues goal of the season.

Fabian Wilnis made Town's task more difficult by getting sent off for what can be generously described as an over-zealous tackle on Keith Lasley near the halfway line.

He was traipsing off even before referee Graham Salisbury showed a straight red.

The Dutchman had earlier been booked for disputing a decision when he was tripped but accused of diving.

The crowd vented their anger on the official, especially when he later booked Pablo Counago for an offence committed a few minutes earlier. It deflected criticism away from the team, which didn't get going until after Joe Royle made half-time changes.

He had started the game by dropping Ian Westlake as a kick up the backside for some mediocre performances of late, especially compared to last season's good form.

Unfortunately Tony Dinning started in his place and while the on-loan Wigan midfielder did not do a lot wrong, he did nothing to inspire Blues at all.

Town missed Westlake's energy, and although Kuqi supplied plenty of hustle and bustle in the second half, the team did not show any of their much-vaunted quality until the final 10 minutes.

David Friio had scorned a wonderful opportunity to head in a Paul Connolly cross when unmarked six yards out. Had that gone in then 3-1 would probably have been too much, even for this lucky Ipswich side.

As it happened Horlock unlocked the Argyle defence with a terrific ball wide for Bent. The England Under-21 star slid in a low cross for Kuqi, who cut across the defence to finish exquisitely from close range.

Five minutes from time the comeback was complete when the unusually quiet Tommy Miller played a ball back for Diallo and his dipping cross was met by the Finn, who turned the ball in with his head.

It was harsh on game Plymouth, who are still adjusting to the Championship after winning promotion last season.

As for Ipswich, well they are picking up the points when the performances are not particularly good and that bodes well for any team that wants success – but how long it will last is another matter.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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