Town were awesome

AWESOME. Simply awesome.The Blues turned on the style to give Forest an old fashioned hiding and send a chilling warning to the top two teams.Six goals, which could have been 10 - and Gary Megson's side could have had no argument about that - a deserved clean sheet, three points and a huge psychological boost going into the last nine games of the season.

AWESOME. Simply awesome.

The Blues turned on the style to give Forest an old fashioned hiding and send a chilling warning to the top two teams.

Six goals, which could have been 10 - and Gary Megson's side could have had no argument about that - a deserved clean sheet, three points and a huge psychological boost going into the last nine games of the season.

Joe Royle's side have raised the bar, setting new standards that they must try and match from now until May 8.


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If they can get even close to how they played against an admittedly wretched Forest side, then no one will be able to live with them.

A radical change was needed after three straight defeats and a blunted cutting edge.

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So Royle reverted to the wing-back system, giving Town width with Matt Richards superb, especially in the first half, giving John Curtis the run around.

Fabian Wilnis on the other side was relishing being let loose on the flank, delivering a mixture of long and short balls of top quality.

Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent were enjoying an unprecedented amount of good service, while the trio at the back always looked comfortable in front of a largely redundant, but nevertheless alert, Kelvin Davis.

But the main factor was Tommy Miller given the responsibility in the middle of the pitch.

The former Hartlepool driving force has languished wide right for too long, never really comfortable on the outpost but cheerily getting on with the job the best he can without complaint.

He has been itching to be at the hub of the play and when Royle moved him inside with Ian Westlake and Jim Magilton either side of him, Miller snatched the opportunity.

From the first minute he was winning possession, determining the tempo, surging into the box and playing delightful passes left and right.

With the talismanic Kuqi inspiring the work rate, Miller dictated the fluent passing game, which has been lacking of late.

When Magilton, who was imperious in the first half, went off with a tight calf muscle, Miller stepped up yet another gear, relishing the added responsibility.

The importance of a win could not have been underestimated before Saturday, highlighted with Wigan and Sunderland both winning.

Anything less than three points would have left Ipswich struggling and the nerves were beginning to jangle.

The relief was palpable on 27 minutes when Richard Naylor hurled himself at a Jim Magilton inswinging corner to head in from six yards.

Town were well on top by then but so often we have seen possession squandered, so the goal from the club's longest-serving player was vital.

Just as crucial was getting a second and not conceding before half-time.

Ten minutes before the break another Wilnis diagonal ball was met by Kuqi and former Town loanee Paul Gerrard could only push the ball away as far as Ian Westlake who controlled with his chest and walked the ball in.

The midfielders getting into the box caused a shaky Forest defence, which had not conceded a goal in three of their past four league games, to wobble.

Five minutes after the break Miller played a wonderful ball over the top for Bent to somehow keep in.

He pulled the ball back from the by-line into Miller's path and he finished from eight yards.

Ten minutes later Bent's pace wreaked havoc again and Wes Morgan tripped him from behind to earn Town a penalty.

Miller has never missed from the spot and was emphatic with his shot past a hapless Gerrard for his fourth goal in five games.

The fifth goal was again down to terrific work from Bent, who turned the experienced Andy Melville inside out before Gerrard parried his shot into the path of Wilnis, whose header crashed against the crossbar.

But the rebound fell invitingly for Kuqi who squeezed the ball home for his 16th goal of the campaign.

All it needed now was for Bent's graft to be rewarded with a goal and the Mexican-waving, carnival crowd, loved it when it came in the 72nd minute.

Richards started the move, feeding Bent, who flicked on for Westlake who played the ball back to the hungry young striker and his 20-yard shot took a slight deflection on its way past Gerrard.

It was probably the most popular goal of the six and with nearly 20 minutes left the chance of getting a seventh and equalling Sunderland's goal difference looked a possibility.

The Blues had been close to getting even more goals, with David Unsworth hitting a post with a cross, and Bent poking the rebound against the same upright.

The England Under-21 striker might have done better after getting round Gerrard in the first half but Chris Doig blocked his attempt.

Miller had played a terrific one-two with Kuqi, before surging into the box but Gerrard saved his low shot.

Melville cleared a Richards' header off the line while Alan Rogers did likewise to another Miller attempt.

For Forest there was little in the way of attacks. Kris Commons hit an ambitious 35-yard free kick high, wide and none too handsome and hit another shot over the bar.

Substitute Neil Harris flicked a header goalwards but Davis saved well.

It was as comprehensive a beating as it gets for the relegation battlers who had beaten Leicester and Watford away in the previous week.

Perhaps tiredness and sickness had caught up with them but that is not to take away just how well Ipswich played. Apart from a couple of loose passes the Blues looked a slick, fluent and dangerous side and with the goals flowing again, will be a handful for any of the remaining nine opponents.

Knowing the way Town are there will be one or two more twists and turns before the promotion party can begin but, without tempting fate, all those that kept the faith are being richly rewarded.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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