Town at the top

GO on spoil yourself - take another look at the table.Even those people who claim they never bother with placings this early in the season will enjoy what they see after three matches, especially if you are a Town or Sky Blues fan.

By Derek Davis

GO on spoil yourself - take another look at the table.

Even those people who claim they never bother with placings this early in the season will enjoy what they see after three matches, especially if you are a Town or Sky Blues fan.

Of course there is a long way to go - another 43 games as Jim Magilton pointed out at the post-match press conference - but certainly what we have seen so far bodes well.


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Accepted, the performances have not been great but the results have been and 1-0 against Palace, who have not lost in 16 games if you count pre-season and the end of the last campaign, is an almost perfect result.

The clean sheet in itself is worth a few slaps on the back and Jon Walters' performance, again, was top drawer.

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Arguably the best player on the pitch, Walters is relishing the role on the right where he can cause mayhem with his touches and movement, and excellent crossing.

He also looks more of a goal threat than he did at times last year as an out-and-out forward and those older Town fans who remember Steve Whitton will recognise the similarities and the successes that particular ploy brought.

Of course there are things that need working on and some players are not quite clicking just yet.

A case in point is Gary Roberts who set the ball up perfectly for that man Walters to get ahead of defender Tony Craig and head in his first goal of the season.

But conversely Roberts looked like a man without confidence at times. No more so than when Owen Garvan played him in but instead of shooting for goal he chose to pass into a crowded area.

Wins like this, and playing his part will help him get back to his best if he is given time.

Fortunately those around him are playing at the top end of their game and this victory was built on a rock-solid defensive performance.

It helped that Palace played straight into their hands, or should I say to their heads, as skipper Jason De Vos and sidekick Alex Bruce relished the high ball approach.

Bruce was immense in the first half, covering across and winning vital headers.

As Palace got more desperate and more direct so De Vos grew in stature and allowed the big men Clinton Morrison and James Scowcroft hardly anything.

When Shefki Kuqi and Dougie Freeman were thrown into the fray they found little joy to be had from a determined back line.

Dan Harding did have a lucky escape early in the second hand when he moved to block a shot and the ball struck his arm but the officials missed it.

Neil Alexander has never saved a penalty so would not have fancied facing another. He does though save free kicks remarkably well as he showed in the first half when he got across his goal smartly to turn a Stuart Green curler around a post.

A vital save at a vital time although he had little else of importance to do as Peter Taylor's side were pretty much kept at arm's length.

It was the arm of Palace keeper Julian Speroni that caused the biggest debate of the match when he was caught outside his area.

He harried Lee to the dead ball line, still outside his box, and used an arm to push away the attempted cross.

After consulting his assistant Andy D'Urso, never the most popular of officials at Portman Road, showed a yellow card.

The rules of the game now state that a red should only be shown to a keeper if he prevents a clear goalscoring opportunity, so his decision was correct in the eyes of the law - if not Ipswich manager Jim Magilton and many Blues fans.

The Town goal prompted a double substitution with Roberts relieved by Danny Haynes and Sylvain Legwinski replacing Alan Lee, who had taken a hefty knock on an ankle.

Billy Clarke followed them on in place of Pablo Counago, who had put in a good shift with many deft touches, although again at times he was careless with the ball.

Haynes had the opportunity to put Town top on goal difference but Speroni, the villain of the hour, was the hero of the moment, with a double save to deny the youngster after already thwarting Clarke.

Town then withstood a late flurry and four added minutes to roll out deserved winners.

Of course it is early days but go on - have another glance at the table and enjoy the moment.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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