Town hold out under pressure

EVERY ounce of resilience Ipswich possess, and a ton of good fortune, saw the Blues squeeze a point out of an excellent Forest side, writes Derek Davis.

EVERY ounce of resilience Ipswich possess, and a ton of good fortune, saw the Blues squeeze a point out of an excellent Forest side, writes Derek Davis.

Joe Kinnear has never been beaten at the City Ground since he took over from Paul Hart last February and they deserved to take the run to 10 without loss.

Three times Ipswich saw their woodwork rattled and only outstanding goalkeeping from Kelvin Davis kept them alive.

In the end Darren Bent bundled in an equaliser after Paul Evans had given Forest the lead, against the run of play it has to be said.

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Town started well but were soon looking stretched and did well to dig a point out of this game.

The Blues looked slick for 20 minutes and in the opening stages Tommy Miller won a ball with strong challenge on Eoin Jess to set another move going and Bent was not far away with a powerful 30-yard low shot.

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Bent looked as if he had a claim for a penalty considered, and then rejected, when he went down under a challenge from behind by Chris Doig after he and Jon-Olav Hjelde made a mess of a clearance and the young striker shaped to shoot from 14-yards.

Drissa Diallo skipped past the £5m rated Andy Reid to start a good move which involved Kevin Horlock, Miller and Ian Westlake, before ending with a corner. New-boy Tony Dinning, on a two-month loan from Wigan, tried his luck with a long shot, which was easily taken by former Town loanee Paul Gerrard.

Ipswich looked the bigger threat for the first 20 minutes, but in what is becoming an all too common trend they conceded first.

Davis has pulled off an amazing one-handed save at full stretch in the 20th minute when Taylor got in a powerful header from 10 yards as he met a Reid cross.

But three minutes later the Town defence were carved open again when Matthieu Louis-Jean pumped a long ball in for Taylor to head down. Johnson turned and shot and although Davis did well to get down and save the initial effort Evans reacted quickest to tuck the rebound away from close range.

Johnson has been handed the captaincy and was a constant thorn in Town's side even before the goal but the offside trap had held up well.

He won defensive headers in his own area, despite being the shortest lad on the pitch, and he barged over Richard Naylor to get a clear run on goal but the ref blew for a foul before Davis had saved his shot.

Davis thwarted Johnson again three minutes before the break when Jess won a midfielder header to send Johnson sprinting clear of the defence but the Town keeper stood tall and plucked the scooped shot out of the air.

Louis-Jean was not far away with a long-range angled shot which curled wide.

So, after starting with such control and vim, Town ended the half struggling to contain a frisky Forest.

Dean Bowditch was sacrificed to make way for Dinning in the starting line-up as Town went for four in midfield.

Jason De Vos skippered the side after facing a late fitness test but at times struggled against Johnson and Taylor.

Debut-making Dinning took the No.10 shirt worn by Alun Armstrong during his time at Town, fitting really, considering both started at Newcastle and then went to Stockport together and have remained close mates, despite going their separate ways after that.

Barely two minutes into the second half Taylor's aerial prowess almost led to a Forest second when he nodded down for Reid to hit a tremendous 20-yard volley which came back from the underside of the crossbar.

But it was a headed mistake by Dinning that put Town under pressure again as he tried to find Davis but the ball fell short and Johnson quickly pounced and his first time shot from six yards hit a post and rebounded clear.

Town responded with an equaliser against the run off play nine minutes into the second half with de Vos playing a decisive role.

He stepped forward to break up a Forest attack and played a long ball for Bent to chase onto and Hjelde was forced to concede a corner.

Tommy Miller sent in a right-footed in-swinger that was nodded on by Naylor and Bent bundled the ball in from six yards.

De Vos went into the over-fussy referee's book for a foul on Johnson who reacted furiously. A bad tackle by Johnson on Diallo provoked and even angrier reaction from Joe Royle who was rightly livid that the Jamaican international escaped caution.

Forest responded with Taylor laying on a ball for Reid to meet with a terrific shot but Davis bent backwards to tip over the bar and was down on to a long range shot from Jess.

The former Manchester striker then hit a post with another header from a diagonal Reid cross. Davis enjoyed a touch of good fortune when Johnson got on the end of a nod down by Taylor from a Rogers' cross as the ball went to safety off his knees.

It was Town who almost snatched an unlikely winner two minutes from Town when Forest failed to clear a Horlock free kick and Bent tried to bundle the ball in and won a corner.

Only a good tackle from Louis-Jean prevented Miller getting a clean shot on goal after a good run and the Town midfielder had another crack blocked.

n Shefki Kuqi has been named in the Finland squad for their opening World Cup qualifier against Romania next week.

The two sides meet in Bucharest on Wednesday, August 18 and the 27-year-old striker will link up with his international team-mates in Helsinki on Sunday.

He will rejoin the Town squad on Thursday, August 19 ahead of the Championship clash with Cardiff two days later.

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