The verdict: Ipswich Town can claim the moral victory from this season’s East Anglian derby duels with Norwich City
- Credit: PA
The East Anglian derby bragging rights should go into storage somewhere near Diss ready to be contested for in another six to 12 months time.
Ipswich Town’s wait for a win against bitter rivals Norwich City goes on after today’s 1-1 draw at Carrow Road – it will be eight long years and counting on April 19 – but the Canaries are certainly a lot less chirpy than they were.
Back in 2014/15, there was an air of resignation from Town fans heading into these matches. Deep down, though few liked to admit it, there was always a sense ‘that lot from up the road’ were a class above following three successive seasons in the Premier League.
Not so now. Norwich started the season expecting to get back into the top-flight at the first time of asking once again. They were favourites to go up automatically alongside Newcastle and rightly so. For them to not even make the play-offs seemed unthinkable – but that’s what looks like is going to happen.
Ipswich have been criticised for underperforming all season, but ultimately a mid-table finish is probably a fair reflection of their budget. Mick McCarthy’s entire match-day squad was assembled for little more than £1.1m in transfer fees, while Alex Neil had four players that cost more than £8m each at his disposal.
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Yes, all things considered this was a moral victory for the Blues.
Both meetings between the two have finished one apiece this season. Bartosz Bialkowski may have pulled off a string of breathtaking saves yesterday, but Town could rightfully point to the fact they had a goal wrongly ruled out at Portman Road and a stonewall penalty not given at Carrow Road too.
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Neither team sparkled. This certainly wasn’t a derby people will talk about for years to come. It might just be the game that signifies a levelling of the East Anglian playing field again though.
Teams that don’t go straight back up tend to find it increasingly hard to rejoin the big boys. Norwich fans may live to regret the ironic minute’s applause when the clock hit 15 in an attempt to mock Town’s number of successive seasons in the second-tier.
Unbeaten throughout ‘Fearsome February’, Town have shown some green roots of recovery. More of the same and McCarthy may yet just reunite the fans. Then all eyes will be on owner Marcus Evans.