Plans are knitting together
THIS season is beginning to sound more like a knitting pattern for Ipswich Town. Draw one - lose one - win one.The substance of this win though, following league displays of late, offers hope that this time, just maybe, it will be the end of the false dawns and the good times are ahead.
By Derek Davis
THIS season is beginning to sound more like a knitting pattern for Ipswich Town. Draw one - lose one - win one.
The substance of this win though, following league displays of late, offers hope that this time, just maybe, it will be the end of the false dawns and the good times are ahead.
Certainly, a pattern is emerging with Ipswich and, if it continues, then they can expect to finish a couple of places either side of the 15th spot they currently hold.
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But look more closely and you can see what a fine garment manager Jim Magilton is piecing together and, even if it is not finished in time to wear for the play-offs this time round, it is looking good for next season when the final trimmings will be applied.
Even without skipper Jason De Vos, the Blues looked good for their first league victory over neighbours Colchester United in 50 years.
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They even staged another stunning come-from-behind win, as they did against Norwich in November, after controversially going behind on the quarter-hour.
Billy Clarke thought he had scored after playing a neat one-two with Alan Lee, although Garry Richards had cleared from beyond the line.
Although many thought it was over the line, video evidence was not conclusive that the entire ball had crossed all of the line and this highlights why a goal-line camera should be introduced.
While the virtues of modern day technology can be discussed, the old fashioned adage of playing to the whistle was forgotten by some Town players, who concentrated on arguing with the officials instead of focusing on their jobs, and Colchester broke quickly upfield.
Hogan Ephraim, a loanee from West Ham making his first-ever league start, turned Richard Naylor inside out before playing a perfect ball into the path of skipper Karl Duguid, who buried from 14 yards.
That was Duguid's second in as many game against Ipswich but, unlike the game at Layer Road, where it was to be the winner, things were very different this time.
Alan Lee won a penalty from the naïve challenge of Richards, standing in for the left-out Pat Baldwin, and the Irishman converted for his 11th of the campaign. Richards, helped by Kevin Watson, cleared off the line from Naylor but the U's were clearly struggling.
Watson and fellow central midfielder Kem Izzet were outclassed in the middle by Sylvain Legwinski and Gavin Williams and that set the tone for the match.
The buttons came off for the U's early in the second half when they failed to deal with a routine corner by Williams, which was finished by Legwinski, a split second ahead of Alex Bruce.
And, when substitute Danny Haynes sprinted onto a delicious through ball from Jaime Peters to inch away from the tiring Richards and then beat Dean Gerken, it was all bit over.
Although clearly second best, the Essex side showed the resilience that has served them so well over the past 18 months and won a late penalty.
David Wright, making his home debut for Ipswich, leaned towards a Chris Iwelumo shot and blocked it, but with an illegal use of a hand judged the referee, who not only gave the penalty but showed him a straight red card.
Harsh maybe, but it gave Iwelumo the chance to stroke in his 15th goal of the season and edge ahead of his striker partner Jamie Cureton who was sorely missed by the U's.
Gary Roberts hit the angle of post and crossbar, while the Town players were taking turns in hitting shots inches wide of the target.
It was a fine win where the controversy added to the drama of the day but not the justice of the result.
Ipswich's lack of consistency, and they will be tested this week by an in-form Swansea City in the FA Cup as they are short of defenders, has been their downfall this season.
Bruce is suspended along with Wright and, of course, De Vos injured. That should mean a recall for Fabian Wilnis.
But the disruption could affect Town's hopes of a second successive victory - an achievement managed just once all season.
On the big plus side was the debut, albeit a cameo role at the end, of George O'Callaghan who has the attributes to be a popular and influential player in the final third of the season.
For the U's, their failure to repeat their home form on the road could well end all speculation that they will be playing home matches at Portman Road or Upton Park next season. This was their third away defeat in a row and the lack of depth in Geraint Williams's squad could also be a telling factor.
No matter what, they have exceeded all expectations already this season and, when they come back from their mini-break in Spain, can focus on the couple of wins they need to make absolutely sure they go into their new stadium as a Championship club at the very least.