Scoreline wasn't as bad as it looks

FEAR not. This was not as bad as the 4-0 scoreline suggests.There were concerns, given the battering Town took in the first half when they were lucky to go in at the break just one goal behind, that it was going to be a rout.

By Derek Davis

FEAR not. This was not as bad as the 4-0 scoreline suggests.

There were concerns, given the battering Town took in the first half when they were lucky to go in at the break just one goal behind, that it was going to be a rout.

Five minutes before the end it looked as if Ipswich were not only going to equalise but maybe even go on and spring a surprise.

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Then an amazing finish by the Baggies gave the score a distinctly unfair slant.

Town were second best in the first 45 minutes as West Brom took advantage of the space left in midfield by Town's attack-minded formation and threatened to run riot.

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Jon Walters was deployed on the left side of the forward line, spear-headed by Alan Lee, with Pablo Counago on the right side, while Sylvain Legwinski was the anchorman in midfield with Tommy Miller pushed right and Owen Garvan left.

It never worked as Tony Mowbray's side gave a master-class in how to exploit gaps with their passing and movement.

If the finishing from Ishmael Miller, Kevin Phillips and Filipe Teixeira had been as deadly as it was in the last few minutes of the match then it would have been game over by half-time.

You had to stand and admire the way the Baggies played with such pace and precision, which, sadly, was exactly what many Town players did.

The Blues were like a team of atheists in the first half - they had no belief. That lack of conviction was highlighted when leading scorer Lee was picked out by Counago but his poor off target effort never bothered Dean Kiely.

A simple save for Kiely from Jon Walters was all that was offered in comparison to the efforts made by West Brom.

Their reward came midway through the first half when Lee was caught in possession by the outstanding Teixeira on the right touchline.

The Portuguese midfielder played an exquisite ball past Jason De Vos and the on-loan Manchester City striker Miller sprinted away from the Blues skipper and beat Neil Alexander with a deft shot with the outside of the left boot.

A few well-chosen words from Jim Magilton and a rejigging of the midfield, with Tommy Miller going inside with Garvan, changed the complexion of the game.

The Blues showed they had learned the lessons from the first half and demonstrated to West Brom that they too know what quick tempo passing football is about.

Within a minute, Counago had fed Lee and he forced Kiely into making an excellent near-post save when the ball looked heading for a top corner.

Lee also headed against a post after a stunning move from Legwinski finding Tommy Miller and him crossing for the Irish striker. whose header came back off the inside of a post.

Lee could not quite reach the follow-up and got a black eye for his troubles as Carl Hoefkens managed to get his boot to ball and face to clear the danger.

Substitute Billy Clarke worked the keeper and Counago fired across goal after another precision pass from David Wright, while Alex Bruce went close with a header. The scorned opportunities were punished when Albion tore Town's defence apart in a stunning final few minutes.

That man Teixeira burst onto a Paul Robinson ball and got away from Dan Harding before finishing with style. Moments later, he drifted a ball in for the unmolested Phillips, who tapped in on the full from close range.

Three minutes into time added on, Phillips met a square ball by Robinson and, although Alexander got a hand to the shot, it went in for the Baggies striker's fifth goal against Town in three games.

Although the score was not flattering, Town will take a lot of solace in their second-half showing as West Brom are a top-class side that have promotion written all over them and, for Ipswich to more than match them for 40 minutes, bodes well.

There are going to be few teams as good as them, and Watford, in the Championship and, if the Blues can show the same conviction that they did in the second half of both those games against the rest, then they will be pushing inside the top 10.

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