Town's away-day blues go on with draw

THIS will go down as one of the all-time classic East Anglian derby duels.For once the game lived up to the hype with cracking goals, super saves, penalty appeals, a red card and controversy to add to the excitement and entertainment.

By Derek Davis

THIS will go down as one of the all-time classic East Anglian derby duels.

For once the game lived up to the hype with cracking goals, super saves, penalty appeals, a red card and controversy to add to the excitement and entertainment.

The build up had seen bottom club Norwich City unveil Glen Roeder as their new manager and the green and yellow followers hoped that it would provide the boost to beat fourth-placed rivals Ipswich Town.

But in a classic piece of one-upmanship, the Blues announced they would have a new owner in Marcus Evans, who is going to pump in £12million cash for new shares - to give him 87.5% of the football club - and is prepared to pay around £6m for the £32m debt.

As £28m is owed to Norwich Union, through Morley Fund Management, that has peeved City fans all the more.

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But the bottom line on football is not so much the cash values but the amount of points, and in cold hard footballing terms this was another two points dropped by Jim Magilton's Ipswich.

The manager admitted himself that Town were somewhat fortunate to be two goals to the good going in at half time with Alan Lee and Pablo Counago both scoring.

Fortunate because City had hit a post through Jason Shackell and seen Jamie Cureton twice scorn great chances in front of a gaping goal.

Town also had keeper Neil Alexander to thanks once again after the Scot, in his first major derby game of any sort in his career, pulled off a magnificent one handed save to push away an unmarked Dion Dublin header.

If City are short of confidence then it didn't show as they played some very good, bright attacking football and defended stoutly.

But the Blues knew they had to take the sting out of the game and survived the first 25 minutes by producing their own classy play with Owen Garvan in particular turning defence into attack.

Spaniard Counago was outstanding at holding the ball up with his back to goal and spinning before laying off to either Clarke, or Walters.

He also played a wonderful ball into the path of Garvan, who was denied by the feet of David Marshall, a Scotland international team-mate of Alexander.

The breakthrough for Town came when Lee, who carried on his run, flicked Alexander's long goal clearances on.

Counago held the ball up and the defender at bay as he delayed the pass into Lee's path and he finished with the panache of a striker hitting his eighth goal of the season.

Lee returned the favour by way of a scuffed free kick that found its way to Billy Clarke, whose shot was saved by Marshall.

But the young Irishman refused to allow the ball to go out of play and, with City protesting, he knocked it back inside for Counago to hit a rare away goal for the Blues.

But just as they did at Burnley when they also had a two goal lead, Ipswich showed they struggle to defend a lead away from home.

Town's best form of defence is attack but City forced the game in the second half, knocking Town out of their rhythm and The Blues sat deeper and deeper.

Dublin was replaced at half time by another big man in John Hartson but it was an even bigger man in Martin Taylor that launched City's fight-back.

Taylor got on the end of a Simon Lapping corner and, despite Garvan's best efforts, turned in his near post header to briefly silence the 2,300 travelling Town support.

Buoyant City carried on the fight as Ipswich's defence tried manfully to stem the tide with Alexander making excellent saves from Hartson and Cureton.

But eventually they were undone by the most basic of moves, with Marshall punting upfield, Hartson climbed above De Vos to flick on.

Cureton, signed as a free agent after leaving Colchester, nipped in behind Fabian Wilnis and David Wright to slam the ball in expertly.

His first goal since August made up in a small way for the first half misses and will undoubtedly renew his confidence.

Darel Russell was a saviour for City when he cleared off the line from Walters, and Town looked for that first elusive away wins.

Magilton tried to breathe life into his side by throwing on Liam Trotter, Danny Haynes and Gary Roberts and it almost worked as Town finished strongly.

A swift break from Garvan had City stretched and his ball wide to Walters was then crossed at the far post for Haynes, who got a touch but Marshall pushed the effort up and onto the top of the crossbar and away to safety.

Referee Rob Styles had waved away penalty appeals when Wright and Counago had used their arms to block crosses and when Garvan knocked over Huckerby.

He showed a red card to the City winger Huckerby for a terrible, over the top tackle as he raked his studs down Walters' thigh.

It was a black mark on an otherwise wonderful match but just adds to the folklore of a game that will achieve legendary status.