Royle not very happy

A SEETHING Joe Royle blamed the pitch and a poor refereeing decision but most of all a 10-minute lapse of concentration as Ipswich Town blew their play-off chances with 2-1 a defeat at Rotherham.

A SEETHING Joe Royle blamed the pitch and a poor refereeing decision but most of all a 10-minute lapse of concentration as Ipswich Town blew their play-off chances with 2-1 a defeat at Rotherham.

Once again the Blues destroyed the good work against a top team to throw away a lead against a struggling side and then lose.

After going one up with Pablo Counago netting his fifth goal in as many games, the Blues became too complacent and allowed gritty Rotherham to battle back to their second victory over Town this season by the same score.

With Nottingham Forest beating Burnley 1-0 and Wolves beating Norwich 3-0, Ipswich know they need to win their remaining games against Wimbledon and Derby and hope Forest lose their last two, although with their superior goal difference a point at home against Millwall, or, ironically, away to Rotherham would probably be enough.

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Royle said: "We have two wins to get and it is very hard for us but while it is mathematically possible we will still go for it."

The tremendous Town away support could barely believe their eyes as an afternoon that started so well turned so tragic.

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Ipswich might have been awarded a spot-kick when Matt Holland was pulled back by Chris Swailes, Tommy Miller was barged over by Guy Branston and there was a claim for handball from a free-kick.

Royle said: "Things have gone against us at vital times. We should have had a blatant penalty in the first half when Matt was pulled back. Matt was too honest and perhaps should have gone down. The only person in the stadium who didn't see it was the referee."

Although Town coped superbly for 70 minutes, Royle was not happy with the Millmoor pitch which is also used by Rotherham Rugby Union Club.

"The quality of our football on that pitch was amazing. I don't wish this to sound sour grapes but the pitch was that bad it could not have been an accident. Either the groundsman has emigrated or the sprinklers have broken or someone has pinched the roller or all three. For a Nationwide pitch it was extraordinarily poor.

"We were handling it but came off the pace and by virtue of long throws and corners in the end we didn't handle that and they have scored two goals.

"We picked up after we went behind which makes you wonder why we didn't do it earlier but in the end it was too little, too late.

"It was a lack of concentration which started up front and spread through the team. One or two started coasting and we went very dreamy and dopey. They have beaten us 2-1 and I don't know how. It was sad to lose when we were so much in control of the game."

Rotherham boss Ronnie Moore said: "I'm not going to make the pitch like a bowling green and have teams come here and football us to death.

"If they have not got enough battlers and just want to try and play football here that is their bad luck. We have to play rugby on this pitch and people know that.

"It is more about desire and in the second half we had enough desire to win it. I didn't hear Joe complain at half time when they were 1-0 up."

While the state of the pitch and the refusal of the referee to give any one of three legitimate penalty claims are valid excuses, Ipswich should look only at themselves to blame for the defeat.

For some inexplicable reason, especially given everyone in the ground knew the importance of the result, Town started to coast after an hour and allowed the Millers time to make hay.

Lethargy up front as Pablo Counago virtually stopped running and Marcus Bent could no longer hold the ball up as he had done so well earlier, spread through the team and Rotherham were allowed a series of corners and long throws.

Andy Marshall dealt with an initial ball but John Mullins beat him with a hopeful hoof which looped in from 18 yards. Then, from another huge throw into the area from Shaun Barker which caused problems, Alan Lee's header was well-saved but Mark Robins followed up to hit the winner.

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