No need to press the panic button yet

IT is, to coin a Sir Alex Ferguson expression, 'squeaky bum time' for Town.After their fifth defeat in a row, and a failure to score in six games, there are genuine concerns that Ipswich will be sucked into the relegation zone very quickly unless they can turn things around.

By Derek Davis

IT is, to coin a Sir Alex Ferguson expression, 'squeaky bum time' for Town.

After their fifth defeat in a row, and a failure to score in six games, there are genuine concerns that Ipswich will be sucked into the relegation zone very quickly unless they can turn things around.

It is understandable that supporters are worried about the Blues' plight and an almost inevitability that some are beginning to turn on Jim Magilton and his staff.

With things looking so bleak, of course, people are going to voice their negative opinions and be all gloomy.

It is also totally right and proper that Magilton, his staff and players, and all those connected with the club, are seen to be positive with the spin machine fully activated - after all, they have season tickets to sell for next year.

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But, for all the disappointment and frustration at St Mary's on Saturday, there were things to be cheery about and signs that Town should not resign themselves to going into freefall.

It is equally as likely that the much-sought- after goal will come, and the long-awaited win will follow.

There can be no better game coming up than QPR on Saturday, the team Town beat at the end of August to end their run of five games without a win at the start of the season.

Blues fans will today be picking over the bones of this latest set-back and those hardy fans who travelled to the south coast could not mask their feelings of being let down once more.

But, with 12 games to go to get the 12 points generally accepted as enough for safety, and with all seven of the teams below them to play, there is enough reason to believe Ipswich will be safe and there is no need for panic measures.

Magilton will not be sacked, and nor should he be. More importantly, he is not a quitter either and will carry on, along with Bryan Klug, to rectify matters.

It is, therefore, vital that players and supporters have faith in the manager. And trust his judgement on formations and team selection, hoping that he gets it right.

It is understandable that fans will get frustrated and each will have their own opinion as to whether Town should have gone with a lone striker and whether that lone striker was Alan Lee and not Danny Haynes.

Or that Town should have gone with two up front with Jon Walters alongside Lee to give him support, as Magilton indicted he would go with as the pairing need games to gel.

Of course, Haynes has a no-fear attitude and his bubbly character and pacy approach is relished by the supporters, and he is the last Town player to score from open play.

Conversely, many would have thought it foolish to leave out top-scoring Lee, who has proven experience in these situations. He also scored twice in the win in Hampshire last season, playing up front on his own.

It did not help Town that they conceded in 53 seconds when Polish striker Marek Saganowski slipped his marker Alex Bruce and headed in a terrific Gareth Bale free-kick.

The Saints then had a raft of chances, with Lewis Price pulling off a stunning save to deny Kenwyne Jones, with the young striker also hitting a post.

It looked for all the world that Southampton were going to repeat the goal flurry that they got against Barnsley the week before and it is testament to Town's guts and determination that they didn't.

Indeed, Bruce did everything he could to atone for his early mistake and hardly put a foot wrong after the goal and typified Town's attitude.

Although they stuck with the one up front, and knew it was going to hard to come back, they did work to create chances.

One brilliant piece of goalkeeping from Kelvin Davis kept them out when he denied first George O'Callaghan and then substitute Walters with two wonderful stops.

Although they stayed solid, the Saints defence looked shaky at times as Town tried to pick their way through.

Gary Roberts was shockingly wasteful in front of goal when he skied a shot over the bar from 14 yards, as he had done in front of the North Stand against Wolves.

Although he clearly has ability, as he showed when he arrived on loan from Accrington Stanley before signing a permanent deal, he looks woefully short of confidence.

He was not alone in bad misses, with Sylvain Legwinski scorning a free header in a game where neither side were convincing.

In contrast, O'Callaghan was always looking to get the ball and play, while Owen Garvan shone in patches, like the team in general.

Matt Richards put in his usual hard working shift but could get the breaks and his set plays didn't always get past the first man.

Dan Harding did well at the back and joined in attack and, although his shooting was wayward, he did play in a sublime ball when O'Callaghan was denied by Davis.

Danger from the Saints came mainly down their left side, with Bale and Andrew Surnam showing great quality and made the experienced David Wright earn his keep.

In the end, George Burley's side could not increase their goal difference and the Blues could not end their drought.

In a perverse way it should make for an entertaining and interesting end to the season - by fighting to avoid being sucked into a relegation scrap, rather than just going through the motions in mid-table.

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