Town grind it out against Millers
PRETTY it was not, effective it certainly was. Ipswich may not ooze the quality of recent years but they have found the recipe for winning games.Rotherham are one notch away from being absolutely dreadful, yet they put the Blues on the back foot in a dour first half in which trench warfare won the day.
PRETTY it was not, effective it certainly was. Ipswich may not ooze the quality of recent years but they have found the recipe for winning games.
Rotherham are one notch away from being absolutely dreadful, yet they put the Blues on the back foot in a dour first half in which trench warfare won the day.
Ritchie Barker and Michael Proctor showed no finesse in their approach, but Richard Naylor and Jason De Vos yielded no ground and slugged it out toe-to-toe.
It was more Mike Tyson than Amir Khan, but these days Ipswich are equipped to deal with that.
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A foot here, an elbow there, a body-check or pull, raw defending reminiscent of a Tony Mowbray and Gary Pallister partnership.
They could have done with a bit more help from a midfield who took an age to get going, Tommy Miller was strangely quiet until the last 20 minutes, Ian Westlake never found his rhythm and it was only when Jim Magilton got into his stride that Ipswich found a breakthrough.
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Shekfi Kuqi, the much-maligned enigma, encapsulated in two minutes what he is all about.
The Finn had a relatively easy chance four minutes before half-time but fired an unchallenged shot directly into Mike Pollitt's arms. That was Town's first attempt on target while only a combination of poor forward play by Rotherham and good Town defence prevented them from being behind.
Instead, Kuqi scored a wonder goal two minutes before half-time as he showed the other side of his game.
Magilton hooked a ball past Robbie Stockdale and it bounced up perfectly for Kuqi a couple of yards outside the 18-yard box. He hit it sweetly on the volley and the ball dipped over Pollitt and into the far corner of the net.
It was a barely-deserved lead and memories were fresh of Derby a couple of weeks previously.
This time, instead of being caught cold after the break Town came out purposefully and Magilton was again the architect.
The Blues' skipper returned a poor clearance with interest and Darren Bent sprinted into the area in chase. The experienced Phil Gilchrist hesitated, keeper Pollitt froze, and Bent nipped between them to lay the ball across the six yard box and Kuqi forced his way in front of a marker to knock the ball in.
That silenced the boo boys who jeered him for his connection with Sheffield Wednesday, although they may learn to be quiet as he has now scored in each of his three trips to Millmoor. Rotherham visibly deflated, and while they did not exactly capitulate the lack of belief was evident.
They certainly didn't roll their sleeves up and scrap their way back into the game. The not-so Merry Millers fans had a go at Darren Garner when he came off and he reacted, clearly not happy at their apathetic support.
Garner had started well with strong midfield play and work at set-pieces.
Along with Paul Shaw they were the main threat as Chris Sedgwick was kept quiet by Fabian Wilnis.
Shaw came inside from his left wing position to cause problems and hit a couple of shots wide.
He bundled the ball in from a quick free kick but the goal was ruled out after he was accused of shoving Naylor.
Garner's replacement, Paolo Vernazza, the former Arsenal and Watford midfielder who spent a loan spell at Portman Road, didn't add much with Kelvin Davis easily taking his long shot.
Pulses raced slightly when the Town keeper spilled a Ritchie Barker shot with Proctor following up. Town's midfield got stronger and showed glimpses of their passing game.
Naylor had a good call for a penalty waved away after he went down as he tried to turn away from substitute Rob Scott, following a good ball from Miller.
The full backs, Fabian Wilnis and Drissa Diallo were joining in more and it was from the Town right flank that Kuqi could have had his hat-trick.
Diallo was played in after good interplay between Miller and substitute Dean Bowditch, and the Frenchman put in a superb cross for the Finn who only had to head it goal-wards but instead it glanced wide for a corner.
The frustrating and frustrated Finn held his head in anguish. Behind him a flag proclaiming Pablo, El Futobolista Mejor De Todos was hung from a stand.
Not so long ago it was Kuqi watching from the bench, and he knows he has to maintain form to keep the out-of-favour Spaniard from reclaiming a place.
Westlake forced a save from Pollitt and Ipswich finished the stronger attacking down the slope towards the 600 or so hardy travelling fans.
Town will play better this season but all the time they are grinding out results such as this, they will continue to ride high in the table.