Town booed off
GIANT-KILLING is not new but it still hurts when it happens to you.The pain was etched on the Blues' faces as they trooped off to boos from their travelling support and delirium from the lowly Second Division club's supporters.
GIANT-KILLING is not new but it still hurts when it happens to you.
The pain was etched on the Blues' faces as they trooped off to boos from their travelling support and delirium from the lowly Second Division club's supporters.
Town lost to a disputed penalty and a side which played way above themselves.
It was a truly unlucky opening 13 minutes for Ipswich and while injuries may be offered as an excuse for fielding such a young side, Town really should not lose to a side like Notts County, no matter how gutsy and dogged their own display was.
Half the Town squad had progressed through the academy, seven are teenagers and two, including Dean Bowditch, are not old enough to buy a pint of the sponsor's lager.
But six of the side have played in the Premiership and Royle's men and boys had enough quality to see off their Second Division opponents.
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The cash-strapped Nottingham side have won just once in the league, 1-0 at Chesterfield, squeezed past the first round of this competition, winning on penalties at Preston, and had not won at Meadow Lane all season.
Their manager Billy Dearden had said it was a wonderful opportunity to end that run as they were under no pressure and not expected to beat a side who played in Europe last season.
And they flew at Ipswich with no fear and once they got their noses in front for a second time they were not going to give in.
It was a rip-roaring opening 12 minutes with Town twice going behind to goals from Simon Baldry and Mark Stallard, with Pablo Counago equalising in between from the penalty spot.
Ipswich carved County open with Bowditch reaching a long ball before keeper Steve Mildenhall and chipping it back into the area for Ian Westlake but his 10-yard header was cleared off the line by Nick Fenton.
Moments later the Blues were behind as Stallard showed good skill to weave his way into the area and brought out a terrific one-handed save by Kelvin Davis, but the ball went to Baldry, whose shot hit Matt Richards on the way in.
It took just four minutes for Town to equalise. Alan Mahon rapped the post with a low shot and in the ensuing panic skipper Steve Jenkins tripped Counago.
The Spaniard sent the keeper the wrong way to bury his second penalty in as many matches.
But the drama continued when, four minutes later, Fabian Wilnis blocked Stallard and the Magpies' striker sent Davis the wrong way with a low shot from the spot.
It was Stallard's seventh goal in 13 appearances for the Magpies and the well-travelled striker looked a threat, although he was fortunate to be given the spot-kick.
At best it looked obstruction by Wilnis, who could not do a lot to prevent Stallard going into him but the home crowd seemed to sway referee Phil Taylor.
Mahon had a vicious drive from 25 yards tipped over the bar and Jim Magilton shot wide from outside the box, but he was forced off after failing to recover from a tackle by Fenton, who was booked.
The County defender was fortunate to stay on the pitch after the referee took no action when he cynically tripped Westlake, who had got past him early in the second half.
Mahon had been deployed on the right wing, leaving the inexperienced Westlake on the left flank and Jermaine Wright tucking into central midfield with Magilton.
Matt Bloomfield came on for the Irish international to make his Town debut and make it five former Academy lads on the pitch.
Alun Armstrong replaced Richards, who had been elbowed by Baldry just before half time, as Town threw men forward in search of the second equaliser.
They were nearly caught out when Clive Platt broke free, but his chipped shot was easily taken by Davis.
The Blues keeper then made a super tip-over save to deny Baldry.
Northern Ireland youth international Sam Morrow, who only got a squad number yesterday, made his bow, with the 18-year-old replacing 17-year-old Bowditch.
He almost scored when he got in front of Magilton to meet a Wright cross but his header across goal also went inches wide and his skipper may have been better placed to finish.
It was a touch of enthusiasm over experience and like the team in general, while there was no questioning the effort, it was not enough and proved costly.