No Light for Town

ALL good things come to an end, and at the Stadium of Light, Town's unbeaten 11 game run came to a shuddering halt.Even a desperate last throw of the dice by Town boss Joe Royle could not prevent Ipswich losing out on a chance to go top of the Championship.

ALL good things come to an end, and at the Stadium of Light, Town's unbeaten 11 game run came to a shuddering halt.

Even a desperate last throw of the dice by Town boss Joe Royle could not prevent Ipswich losing out on a chance to go top of the Championship.

It was a forlorn hope that a 16-year-old boy, Daryl Knights, could salvage something after going two down and looking well beaten but it was worth a try.

It seems part of the Town make up that when they have a chance to pull away they blow it, and after Wigan were held to a draw by Leicester the Blues had a terrific chance to go two points clear.


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Not only did they scorn the chance but they never really looked like they wanted to take it.

They never matched Sunderland's passion and desire, too many players had off days and the strikers not only misfired but never held on to the ball to relieve the pressure for the defence.

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The Blues could have no complaint after losing to a Black Cats side on a great run, with just one defeat in nine, and it was easy to see why.

They won the game in midfield even before a set piece brought about Town's downfall with Stephen Elliott opening the scoring. Town were then carved open for the killer second from substitute Chris Brown.

Ipswich's usual reliance on always being able to score failed them as they barely had a sniff on goal, especially in a toothless second half.

The club record of 43 league games without failing to score will no doubt remain for some time but other good runs, such as four wins on the trot and being unbeaten in 11 games, were ended.

With Tommy Miller failing to recover sufficiently from an elbow injury, and so missing out on playing in his 'home' stadium for the third time, Dean Bowditch made up a three-pronged attack and 16-year-old Knights was given a first-team outing with a place on the bench.

Bowditch enjoyed a lively first half until he was forced off two minutes before the break after getting a kick on the back of his ankle by Jeff Whitley as he attempted to clear the ball.

Pablo Counago went into the centre of the three forwards with Shefki Kuqi moving out to the left but Town changed things at half time, dropping Darren Bent into midfield and going to 4-4-2.

It was a shame for the 18-year-old Bowditch, who was giving full-back Stephen Wright a hard time.

An early Town counter saw Magilton quickly release Bowditch down left flank. He cut inside Wright but his low shot was well taken by Thomas Myhre.

The England Under-19 striker was booked when he was late on Wrightt when trying to recover a mistake. The Sunderland defender had to be sharp to deny Bowditch with a good tackle in the area and the two later squared up to each other after the Blues forward tumbled on the edge of the area and no foul was given.

Town had some chances in the first half but Sunderland enjoyed the clearer opportunities.

Bent should have done better when Ian Westlake played him clear but he dragged his left-footed shot well wide.

Westlake skipped past Gary Breen but his low cross went into the side netting.

Marcus Stewart was given one more chance as a starter after going nine games without scoring and partnered Republic of Ireland international Elliott up front.

The former Blues striker missed a glorious opportunity in the 20th minute when Whitley picked him out unmarked in front of goal but he knocked the ball wide.

The 32-year-old striker was taken off just before the hour as his drought hit 10 games and Brown was given another chance after scoring the winner at Leicester a week earlier.

Kelvin Davis made a brilliant tip-over save to deny Darren Carter, who hit a terrific 25-yard dipping volley.

Carter had earlier scythed his way through the middle after a one-two with Dean Whitehead but shot straight at Davis. He had another long-range effort go high.

George McCartney also surged through the heart of the Town defence but again good work from Davis denied Sunderland, while Richard Naylor was sharp to get across and block a Whitehead drive.

Another forward run from McCartney set up Carter and this time he hit a post with an eight-yard shot.

The goal came after substitute Liam Lawrence appealed for a penalty after going down under an excellent Fabian Wilnis challenge which won the ball but conceded a corner.

Lawrence took the flag kick himself, Brown flicked on and Elliott applied the final touch from inside the six-yard box on the hour.

The second goal 15 minutes later owed much to the impressive Carter, who took a Lawrence pass before finding Brown who finished well.

The Town defence were carved open and the combination of losing Bowditch and the arrival of Lawrence for Sunderland, coupled with the on-loan Birmingham midfielder Carter's influence, swung it totally in favour of the Black Cats.

Town had not won at Sunderland for 15 years and have never tasted success at the Stadium of Light.

At this rate it is going to be some time before that happens.

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