Things could start to get ugly for Town

UNDER the promotional headline The Good, The Bad and The Future, Ipswich Town fans this week will be asked to buy season tickets for the next campaign.

By Derek Davis

UNDER the promotional headline The Good, The Bad and The Future, Ipswich Town fans this week will be asked to buy season tickets for the next campaign.

Quite which division The Blues will be playing their football then is up in the air, although it is safe to say it won't be in the Premiership.

While the spectre of relegation is not exactly looming the Blues could soon become unwilling participants in a scrap to stay in the Championship unless they can start scoring goals, never mind winning games.

Although 12 points from the remaining 13 games is a reasonable expectation, which would take Town above the accepted 50 point safety barrier, it is only achievable if the team is capable of tipping the margins in their favour by finding the net more often than the opposition.

Unless the Blues can get out of their current slump they will soon be drawn in with the likes of Barnsley, Luton, QPR, Hull and Leeds and - of course - Norwich. If a couple of those sides hit form as Southend have recently done there could be trouble ahead.

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The season ticket sellers will hope optimism returns to Portman Road - and soon.

The good came at Watford on Saturday with a performance, and support, that was worth good money.

Although David Wright may have erred last night he looks a good acquisition and manager Jim Magilton's mix of hungry young players and those wanting to make the most of second chances have shown in patches exciting capabilities, although they are still a long way off coming of age.

Off the pitch the finances are being juggled to give Magilton a fighting chance in the transfer market, but as usual the less income guaranteed by ticket sales, the smaller the budget. Simple housekeeping.

The bad can be summed up - the results, pure and simple. Performances have varied and the inconsistency has been a killer, just as it was against Wolves last night.

Ipswich have now gone more than 500 minutes without scoring in open play, and even if you count Alan Lee's penalty against League One side Swansea in the cup, it is still five games without a goal.

The away record is even more worrying with no goals and only one point from a possible 12 since the Boxing Day victory at Coventry City.

As for the future, well, it may not exactly be bleak but there could be even darker days ahead unless a number of things improve.

Last night's crowd of 20,602 is indicative of the sort of support Ipswich can expect

No one wants to be overly pessimistic but a hefty dose of realism needs to be applied when it comes to expectations.

For a start Ipswich are not a big club. Yes they have a stadium that can hold 30,000 but there will be few times next season when it is much more than two-thirds full. The pitch is way below standard and when it comes to attracting players Town are going to find it hard competing against many already in the Championship, never mind those coming down from the Premiership with huge resources.

And as hard as Town try to hold on to their better players, if they finish in a lowly position this season, and start badly next, those with Premiership ambitions will be tempted to go elsewhere.

Owen Garvan, who hit the crossbar with a header from a Matt Richards corner, is one.

Wales international keeper Lewis Price is another who will be targeted if he carries on making the sort of saves he did last night to deny Michael McIndoe and to spare the blushes of defender Alex Bruce, who almost deflected another McIndoe effort into his own net.

Bruce did put into his own net when Andy Keogh volleyed across the box but was offside.

Price was caught in no-man's land for the Wolves goal after a back pass by David Wright on the touchline while under pressure from Keogh and Stephen Ward nipped in to score from an acute angle.

Ward, a £150,000 buy from Bohemians, was a player Town had scouted. As was Keogh at Scunthorpe, who was also among a raft of potential recruits that came over from Dublin, along with Owen Garvan, Shane Supple and Michael Synott, but was not taken on.

Frustratingly for Ipswich, they had much of the play and looked good until they reached the final third but lacked the ability, instinct and quality, and let's be fair - luck, to actually finish.

Wolves also had the impressive giant Matt Murray in goal.

Walters lobbed over for Lee to run on to and hit a right-footed half-volley but Murray had it covered. Lee, back from a two-match ban and a hamstring injury was partnered by Walters, who was cup-tied, on Saturday and both battled gamely without success.

Town had the more possession and the most chances but the statistic that counts is the goals for and against and Wolves took advantage of their gift.

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