Stuart Watson’s Verdict: Town in tune with their belligerent boss again
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Focus on the strengths, recognise the weaknesses and enjoy the ride.
Jordan Spence’s last-gasp leveller rescued Ipswich Town a 2-2 draw at Hull City on Saturday.
His chest-puffed-out, mouth-roaring celebration acts as neat shorthand for the defiant nature of this squad. Their playing style once again is in tune with the stubborn, belligerent persona that manager Mick McCarthy wears as a badge of honour.
That’s the 10th point gained from a losing position this season – more than any team in the English Football League. It’s also the ninth time that the Blues have scored a goal in the 88th minute or later in games.
There’s a palpable sense of togetherness, underdog spirit and never-say-die attitude about this close-knit group that is reminiscent of three years ago when the odds were beaten to secure the club’s first play-off place in a decade.
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Don’t underestimate the collective mental strength that was shown at the KC Stadium. Town had led 1-0, trailed 2-1 and could easily have folded after David McGoldrick’s 74th minute penalty was saved. But they didn’t.
As observed on these pages early in the campaign, this is a team that fans can be proud of again.
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“We might not be the best, but we keep going – it’s a very endearing quality to have,” was McCarthy’s succinct summary.
The first part of that assessment cannot, unfortunately, pass without further comment.
Saturday ultimately felt like a point gained, but there’s also a nagging sense it was a missed opportunity for all three given how struggling Hull were on the ropes.
The list of soft goals conceded lengthened. And we could easily be talking about a defeat had Adama Diomande not missed a gilt-edged chance in stoppage-time.
Every single one of Town’s 25 points have been secured against sides currently in the bottom half (W8 D1 L2 F23 A12), with only Reading left to face from the lower echelons.
The Blues – whose record against the current top-half teams reads P5 L5 F4 A11 – now play Sheffield Wednesday (home, Wednesday night), Aston Villa (a), Derby (a) and Nottingham Forest (h) in the coming days.
Both those endearing qualities and technical limitations will be tested to the max.