Town cashing in on their cup luck
QUITE how Ipswich are in today's draw for the fifth round no one can be sure.After getting lucky at Chester to earn a replay, and then getting past them with a somewhat lack-lustre display, the Blues' luck held again against Swansea.
By Derek Davis
QUITE how Ipswich are in today's draw for the fifth round no one can be sure.
After getting lucky at Chester to earn a replay, and then getting past them with a somewhat lack-lustre display, the Blues' luck held again against Swansea.
The footballing Gods conspired to make sure of a safe passage against the high-flying League One side and have some optimists convinced Town's name is on this year's FA Cup, sponsored by e.on, who, of course, are Town's main corporate backers.
It would be a dream for the energy company if Town were to make it to the final of the first FA Cup final to be played at the new Wembley and Jim Magilton's side are certainly getting a lot of help from referees and opponents alike.
Even though the Swans quite often play a lone striker away from home, and the tactic worked like a dream in the third round when they beat Sheffield United, the Blues were relieved to see top scorer Lee Trundle sitting on the bench.
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With the Welsh side in defensive mode, Town set about them and Jaime Peters put in another performance that could have Magilton phoning the employment visa specialists about getting him a permit instead of just allowing his deal to expire in the summer without trying to keep him.
But, for all of Peters' teasing and taunting, Town never seriously threatened the City goal.
Billy Clarke, Sylvain Legwinski and Peters all had pot-shots, while at the other end the powerful Ade Akinfenwa bullied his way into position but shot hopelessly wide.
While the Blues looked somewhat lethargic, especially in midfield, Swansea's Andy Robinson was exceptional but could not find a meaningful outlet for all his good work.
He did force a spill from the otherwise flawless handling of Lewis Price and man-of-the-match Fabian Wilnis got in a stud's length ahead of Akinfenwa's follow-up.
The more the game opened up, the more it looked like Swansea were going to nick it, but for a fortunate intervention by the referee Nigel Miller.
Cardiff City supporter Gavin Williams hit a deep cross but, as Peters got a foot to it, Tom Williams pulled him back.
Keeper Willie Gueret was booked during the delay in taking the spot- kick and was then sent the wrong way by former Cardiff City striker Alan Lee, who rolled the ball past him for his 12th goal of the season. Williams was booed relentlessly by the away support, who have never forgiven him for celebrating a goal at Swansea while playing for Yeovil by tapping the top of his head, Sam Hamman-style.
Lee got less grief for scoring and instead the City fans turned on the officials and chanted 1-0 to the referee.
A flurry of substitutions followed Richard Naylor's departure as he limped off with a suspected broken toe to add to Town's defensive woes.
But the makeshift back-line, led by Wilnis, held out as Swansea threatened to find a deserved equaliser.
City threw on Trundle and new signing Pawel Abbott was sent on and forced Town on the back foot.
Trundle got past Wilnis and Harding and slipped the ball across the face of goal but Thomas Butler failed to reach it and missed a one-yard tap in.
Abbott had a decent chance late on as well but Town held out and reach the fifth round for the first time in 11 years.
The importance of reaching the last 16 cannot be underestimated for a team that is undergoing a rebuilding phase and, while they will not be troubled by a relegation scrap, are highly unlikely to be bothering the play-off contenders either.
Of course, if they can extend their three-game unbeaten run for some time then things could be different but the indiscipline of early season is coming back to haunt them and injuries are compounding the problem, especially at the back.
There are many encouraging signs and the arrival of David Wright, available again for Tuesday's game at Stoke, George O'Callaghan, who as a former Port Vale player would love to beat the Potters, and Jon Walters, keenly awaiting his debut, give much reason for high hopes.
And, if the luck holds and Town get a decent, winnable, draw, then the season still has much to interest the Blues followers.