Town humbled by sparkling Stevenage

IT is a good job pre-season games are meaningless as Jim Magilton's side was humbled by Mark Stimpson's non-league Stevenage last night. Magilton wants his warm-up games to be plentiful and tough so they can start the season in full flow but he probably never envisaged his side, albeit without his three new signings, would find Blue Square Premier opposition quite so difficult.

By Derek Davis

IT is a good job pre-season games are meaningless as Jim Magilton's side was humbled by Mark Stimpson's non-league Stevenage last night.

Magilton wants his warm-up games to be plentiful and tough so they can start the season in full flow but he probably never envisaged his side, albeit without his three new signings, would find Blue Square Premier opposition quite so difficult.

Ipswich dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes but failed to penetrate while Stevenage countered quickly and dangerously.

The Blues went behind on 10 minutes when John Nutter drove a penalty straight down the middle of the goal with Shane Supple diving to his right, after Alex Bruce had fouled Mitchell Cole.

Moments earlier Supple had made an excellent save to turn away a Steve Morison shot following good work from Adam Miller.

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Miller started his career at Ipswich's youth system before playing for Canvey Island and Aldershot. He was picked up by Ian Holloway at QPR but released last year.

The Colchester-based midfielder won an FA Trophy medal at Wembley with Borough last season when they beat Kidderminster 3-2 in front of a 53,000 crowd.

Town showed glimpses of quality with Alan Lee and Jon Walters combining well and provided a reason to show why Magilton is so determined to hang on to last season's top scorer with 17 goals. They also showed Pablo Counago that they have no intention of giving up their places lightly.

Although Counago and Tommy Miller, who completed his move to Town yesterday, complement each other very well, it will be interesting to see how Walters can link with the midfielder as well as the Spaniard.

Walters twice tested Alan Julian in the Borough goal in the first half but couldn't find a way through. He also produced a deft touch to put Lee in but his shot dropped over the bar. Moments later Lee returned the favour but Julian pushed the ball onto the bar and over.

George O'Callaghan, wearing a bandage around his head to protect a gash over his right eye caused by an accidental collision with Michael Synnott in training, was looking to maintain his good pre-season form and fend off Miller for his place. He had four attempts in the first 45 minutes but didn't have his shooting boots on and was off target with all of them.

While Ipswich started the second half unchanged, Stevenage fielded an almost entirely new side but quickly warmed to the task with a goal inside a minute.

And what a stunning goal it was with Oliver Allen, son of legendary finisher Clive, unleashing an unstoppable dipping drive from 20-yards near the angle of the 18-yard box, leaving Supple beaten.

Borough grabbed their third goal 15 minutes from time when Paul Hakim finished from close range after Junior Dodson weaved his way through only to have his shot saved by Supple.

Don't tell Supple this game was meaningless as he and Bruce squared up to each other when the third goal went, in such was their disappointment.

Owen Garvan looked at home in midfield and was twice denied, once by the reflexes of Julian and then by team-mate Lee, who got in the way of a shot.

Lee was substituted by Jordan Rhodes but it was Walters who still looked the main threat up front.

Stimson watched new signing Tesfaye Bramble do a pre-match fitness test and decided not to include him in this game.

The game marked the first use of the new floodlights at Broadhall Way but it was the second half Borough football that lit up this game.

Line-ups

Stevenage (first half) Julian, Fuller, Nutter, Oliver, Arber (Gaia, 15) Miller, Cole, Martin, Lewis, Morison, Anderson. Second half: Gore, Bradshaw, Webster, Henry, Gaia, Lawson, Molesley, McMahon, Dodson, Hakim, Allen, Sealey, Eames, Gore, Hadj.

Ipswich Town: Supple, Wright, Harding, De Vos, Bruce (I Miller, 78) O'Callaghan (Reason 75) Garvan (Upson, 75) Haynes, Lee (Rhodes, 65) Walters, Richards (Robinson, 65).

Referee: Darren Deadman. Attendance: 1,000.

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