Substitutions show Royle's Boxing clever

AN inspired substitution earned Ipswich yet another come-from-behind win but it was not entirely convincing.

AN inspired substitution earned Ipswich yet another come-from-behind win but it was not entirely convincing, writes Derek Davis.

Yes, Town showed their character once again. They also demonstrated what a good football side they are but for three-quarters of this game it seemed they were going to make it a third game in a row without a goal.

Although the Blues out-passed the Hammers, which was particularly galling for the home fans, they rarely threatened until Spaniard Pablo Counago was introduced as a substitute, followed shortly by Martijn Reuser.

Jermain Defoe had put Alan Pardew's side ahead and with the sort of firepower they boast the Hammers would have expected to nail down a win.

But Counago won a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Wayne Quinn and then turned in a low Martijn Reuser shot to stun the second largest Upton Park crowd of the season.

Joe Royle's vow to freshen things up brought about changes but not necessarily those expected.

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Ian Westlake lost his place to Tommy Miller while Georges Santos dipped out with John McGreal and Richard Naylor chosen to keep their places after their second-half showing against Norwich last Sunday.

The Frenchman did appear in the second half with McGreal appearing to tire, and he did well enough against a Hammers side searching for an equaliser by then.

There have been signs of late that Ian Westlake has struggled to maintain the high standards he has set and it was no real shock to see him on the bench although Miller going on the left side may raise a few eyebrows.

Miller is a class act with an eye for a pass, is good at closing down and is not afraid to have a crack at goal but doesn't look totally comfortable out wide and went inside searching for the ball.

Many would have been surprised that Shefki Kuqi kept his place ahead of Counago.

Presumably the Albanian-Kosovan is judged to be a better partner for in-form Darren Bent than the Spaniard.

Kuqi had strong claims for a penalty rejected when he was flattened by Tomas Repka and then beat David James in the air to flick on a header which Ian Pearce had to clear.

The Finland international hit a shot 10 yards wide and again worked hard up front but to little effect.

It was even more frustrating for Bent, who made a number of good runs, but too often was dragged wide in search of the ball.

While West Ham peppered the Town goal, with Defoe in particular a difficult customer for Richard Naylor and John McGreal to deal with, there were few clear openings for the Ipswich forwards despite Town enjoying far more of the ball.

Jermaine Wright and Jim Magilton took the midfield by the scruff of the neck supported superbly by Miller, and the attacking full-backs Fabian Wilnis and Matt Richards.

But Town's weakness was exposed four minutes after the break as West Ham struck.

Town carved out an opening with Wilnis delivering a good curling cross to the six-yard area where you expect your strikers to be. Instead James was able to pluck the ball out unchallenged and immediately set Marlon Harewood away on the Hammers' right flank.

The former Nottingham Forest forward kept the ball in, cut inside and delivered a low cross into the six-yard area where Defoe turned the ball in for his 14th goal of the season.

Counago's arrival started to pose problems and Repka was booked for a foul on the substitute.

Skipper Jim Magilton was determined to pick out the striker and a quick pass caused panic as Counago surged into the area and Quinn's challenge brought the inevitable penalty.

Counago sent the England keeper the wrong way as he struck his spot kick right-footed low to James' left in the 70th minute.

Eight minutes later Reuser fired in a low 25-yard drive which Counago flicked on and it also deflected off Repka before creeping inside a post.

The pair may squabble over whose goal it is, but the Spaniard has a strong case as it definitely changed direction to wrong-foot James.

Inevitably that sparked a West Ham fight-back but after Michael Carrick had warmed Kelvin Davis up with a couple of long-range shots, the Town keeper pulled off two excellent stops to deny Carrick again and substitute Don Hutchison.

A Harewood shot bounced up against the crossbar and away as he searched for a goal his performance deserved. The former Town loanee produced a wonderful piece of skill in the first half to create space for a low cross that David Connolly screwed inches wide.

But Blues showed they had enough character to hold on and went some way to make up for the home defeat to Norwich last Sunday and move back up to fourth place in the table.

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