Town draw in six-goal thriller

WHAT a thriller. Three goals apiece, plenty of goalmouth action, defences that give managers kittens and exciting attacking play from both sides.Mistakes hurt at each end, with excellent finishing to thrill the supporters and, if both teams are nervous about their recent runs, it didn't show.

By Derek Davis

WHAT a thriller.

Three goals apiece, plenty of goalmouth action, defences that give managers kittens and exciting attacking play from both sides.

Mistakes hurt at each end, with excellent finishing to thrill the supporters and, if both teams are nervous about their recent runs, it didn't show.


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Matt Richards salvaged a point for Ipswich late on when they looked dead and buried but they deserved it for spirit alone.

The clocks may have officially gone back an hour on Sunday but Jim Magilton wound his own personal ticker back a few years with a sublime set-piece, finished off by the head of Richard Naylor, who was celebrating landing a new contract that keeps him to Town until the summer of 2009.

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Magilton then hit a brilliant free-kick to score from 30-yards. Honest, Beckham would have been proud of it.

Blues' boss Joe Royle and his coaching staff pulled off a tactical masterstroke which seemed to be working a dream, as Ipswich showed an energy and enthusiasm badly missing in recent weeks.

Without a win in four games, and displays at times where it looked like they were trudging through treacle, the team needed something and this looked more like it.

Managers insist it is about players, and not formations, but this new approach paid dividends, with pretty much the same group of players.

Town took the lead and were looking good before being hit by a double whammy from Dexter Blackstock and Marcus Tudgay - and then the Blues equalised.

Blackstock put Derby back in front and hit the crossbar before Richards headed in seven minutes from time to equalise again for Ipswich.

The Blues mascot, eight-year-old Jack Griffin, who had made the trip from Cambridgeshire, was in for a disappointment when the starting line-up was announced and Darren Currie was not in it.

The youngster was wearing a No. 10 Currie shirt - but he also likes Magilton and Naylor, so two out of three was not bad.

That was not the only surprise Royle sprang, with Dean McDonald wide on the left and Dean Bowditch on the right, supporting Sam Parkin in an adventurous three-man attack.

Richards was tucked in behind them, while Magilton and Jimmy Juan sat in front of the back four.

The move seemed to give Town a new enthusiasm and freshness but it was the old guard that provided the breakthrough, after Fabian Wilnis was fouled in midfield.

Magilton delivered a direct free-kick and Naylor was up to turn his header in from 14 yards with just 10 minutes gone.

Naylor, the club's longest-serving player, has just been handed a new three-year deal, totally deservedly, as is the testimonial match he will have next year.

Derby were suffering from a run of one win in 12 and so had also looked for a new approach, with on-loan Blackstock getting his first start and Tudgay back into the line-up at the expense of Stern John and Paul Peschisolido.

The duo each had early chances but Jason De Vos harried Tudgay, while Blackstock sent an unchallenged header over the bar in the opening moments.

Morten Bisgaard found himself bearing down on goal from the right flank, after Wilnis failed to cut out a diagonal pass, but Lewis Price made a terrific save with an outstretched leg to win the personal duel.

Michael Johnson headed over a Blackstock cross from a yard out and the Rams battered their way back with a blistering three-minute double, starting in the 35th minute.

Inigo Idiakez pumped in a deep free-kick and Emerson Thome peeled away from the wall and headed back across goal where Blackstock nodded in.

County's second goal, although well executed, came off Town's own slack play. Blues lost the ball in the middle of the park and Bisgaard was given time and space to send in a curling cross, with Tudgay arriving at the far post unhindered to score with a diving header.

But Magilton hit back with a brilliant free-kick three minutes before the break, with the sweetest of swerving right-footers that curled into the top corner, leaving Kevin Poole grasping thin air.

Parkin put the ball in early in the second half but was ruled offside. Even so it was enough for the 770 visiting Town fans to sing 'Super Sam'.

Unfortunately for those supporters, from the keeper's free-kick, Derby swept upfield on their right flank and Blackstock side-footed in for his second of the night, and third since signing on loan from Southampton last week

Blackstock, who also hit four in 14 games on loan at Plymouth last season, hit the crossbar in an excellent display but Richards, who had been excellent in his new role, popped up with his third Town goal, when he got on the end of a pin-point Currie cross and headed powerfully in from the edge of the area.

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