Plenty of positives for Town

RARELY in defeat will Ipswich have been able to take so many positives.Dario Silva's solitary goal ended Town's hopes of £40,000 prize money and a place in today's lunchtime draw but they can hold their heads up high for the performance, which will give them, and the long-suffering supporters, added hope for the rest of the Championship campaign.

By Derek Davis

RARELY in defeat will Ipswich have been able to take so many positives.

Dario Silva's solitary goal ended Town's hopes of £40,000 prize money and a place in today's lunchtime draw but they can hold their heads up high for the performance, which will give them, and the long-suffering supporters, added hope for the rest of the Championship campaign.

While the majority of outside interest was in Portsmouth's new co-owner Alexandre Gaydamak, who disappointed a gaggle of photographers by not being at the game - he was in Berlin - Ipswich quietly went about their business.


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Although they lost to a goal of stunning simplicity, brilliantly executed, the Blues played well.

They moved the ball around neatly, had plenty of possession and showed some good creative skills.

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Scott Barron completed a unique hat-trick by making just his third start and adding the FA Cup to the League Cup and Championship debuts he had played in his previous two senior outings.

The 20-year-old showed terrific composure in defence, giving the gifted Gary O'Neil little joy down the flank and, at the same time, linking well with his own forwards in attack.

Barron may be slightly disappointed at not stopping Uruguayan striker Silva from heading in Matt Taylor's cross but, such was the quality of delivery and finish, that few defenders could have prevented the goal.

Danny Haynes got the crowd going with his brash in-your-face style and caused the Pompey defence a few moments of panic with his pace, power and persistence.

The Londoner, 18 today, went agonisingly close in the second half with a shot across goal that skimmed the base of a post, with former FA Cup-winning keeper Sander Westerveld beaten.

Town had other good chances to at least level the game, with Jason De Vos heading a Darren Currie cross against a post and Gavin Williams scorning a wonderful opportunity.

The move stemmed from a delightful back-heel by Currie into Barron's path. The defender tricked his way past Brian Priske to find space for a cross that Dejan Stefanovic could clear only as far as Williams.

The midfielder, signed for £300,000 from West Ham on Wednesday, had time and space but fired his left-footed, 16-yard shot, central to goal, wide of the mark.

The Town midfield had plenty of zip, with Ian Westlake and Matt Richards closing down the Pompey duo of Richard Hughes and Salif Diao and supplying Currie with enough balls for him to push Pompey onto the back foot.

That meant the Premiership side had to be patient but broke efficiently in classic counter-attacking style that led to the goal and other scary moments.

Former Colchester United striker Lomana Lua Lua may not be as exciting as he once was but he is clearly a better player for the experience he has gained at Newcastle United and now with the south coast club.

Soon to be away with Congo DR for the African Cup of Nations, Lua Lua showed he still has explosive pace and tricky ball skills.

But when he broke away in the second half he could never have expected Fabian Wilnis to get back and make a superb tackle in the penalty area, just as Lua Lua was about to try and beat Shane Supple.

Wilnis had shuffled across to centre-back to allow Richard Naylor to move up alongside the hard-working Haynes and the defence in general looked quite comfortable, even with Taylor getting in good balls.

Barron's emergence after a year out with injury means finding a left-back from elsewhere is no longer a priority and, if he can maintain this level of performance and consistency, a new contract will surely be placed on the table before too long.

While Barron was one of the things to be pleased about in an entertaining game, the same old problem of no cutting edge was obvious.

Pompey soaked up the pressure, broke dangerously and always looked as if they could step up another gear if required.

Oh how Ipswich could have done with a striker of the ilk of Ray Crawford, who now lives in Portsmouth and was at the game as a guest of chairman David Sheepshanks.

As enthusiastic and earnest as Haynes is, Ipswich will welcome back Nicky Forster from injury this week and, hopefully, be able to partner him with new signing Alan Lee by the time Sheffield United come to town.

They will also have Dean McDonald available after he was cup-tied on Saturday, so things are looking up for Ipswich and, if they can play in future games as they did against Stoke and again against Pompey, only with the added goal-scoring touch, then a climb towards the play-off places is a genuine possibility.

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