Town win friendly

Ipswich Town 2 Crystal Palace 1SOFT goal excluded, Ipswich's defence showed marked signs of improvement as they beat Palace in their first home season friendly with Jason De Vos and Kevin Horlock solid additions.

Ipswich Town 2

Crystal Palace 1

SOFT goal excluded, Ipswich's defence showed marked signs of improvement as they beat Palace in their first home season friendly with Jason De Vos and Kevin Horlock solid additions.

It won't stop Blues boss Joe Royle bringing in a Premiership defender on loan this week, but Canadian captain De Vos made a number of good interceptions and is a proven communicator ably backed by Richard Naylor.

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Horlock sat just in front of the back four and for the first time in two years Town have someone who looks more than comfortable in the role.

Although still struggling somewhat from bruised ribs, the former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder controlled much of the central play, breaking up Palace attacks and switching Town's attacking play from one wing to another.

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He also showed glimpses of a sweet left foot at corners with de Vos going close a couple of times.

Horlock said: "The holding position suits me. Kevin Keegan was the first to put me there and it worked really well. My job is to get the ball and pass it the other lads and I try to get it out as much as possible.

"With the pace we have out wide with Deano and Benty it was important to stretch the game and it worked well.

"It was not an unbelievable game by any stretch but it was a good workout."

Horlock is proven at this level having won promotion twice with Manchester City and once with Swindon and, apart from suffering from bruised ribs in Denmark, has enjoyed a good first few weeks and settled in well as Town slowly edge towards full readiness.

Diallo headed in his first goal for the club as Town took an early lead in the sweltering mid-day sun.

Jim Magilton picked out the Guinea international, who had found space at the near post and scored with a bullet header from 10 yards.

The Frenchman was playing at right-back in place of Fabian Wilnis, who came on at half-time after recovering from a back injury during the week.

Young defender Scott Mitchell missed out after suffering a slight groin strain.

Palace equalised with the softest of free kicks when Kelvin Davis fumbled a Shaun Derry free kick at his near post five minutes from halftime.

Dean Bowditch found the winner in time added on before the break.

Darren Bent embarrassed Derry down the right flank with his pace and his low cross was played on by Counago. It rebounded to Bowditch who showed good awareness to tuck his 10-yard shot around a crowd of players low in a corner of the net.

Andy Johnson hit the crossbar for Palace while Michael Hughes blazed the rebound over from four yards, and they might have had a penalty when Matt Richards appeared to foul Dougie Freedman, but overall Town just about deserved the win.

Blues started with a lively-looking 4-3-3 but were slowly pushed into a 4-5-1 with Bent and Bowditch defending deeper on the flanks.

Royle was happy with what he saw and expects the tempo will pick up even more when Newcastle United visit on Wednesday evening for Dale Roberts' testimonial.

He said: "It was nice to score a couple, although we gave our usual daft one away. As long as we keep on scoring it won't matter.

"Kevin was arguably our best player, winning balls, passing well and just being steady. Jason did very well two so both new boys acquitted themselves well.

"Palace are a handful, Johnson was leading scorer in the division last season ,and Freedman has always scored goals, so it was nice to keep them quiet."

The game fizzled out in the second half after a meaty first 45 minutes in which the leniency of Hertfordshire referee Paul Taylor allowed Palace carte blanche to deal out some harsh treatment, especially Diallo who took a couple of hefty whacks from Derry.

The latter escaped without punishment, and Michael Hughes got away with a vicious challenge on Ian Westlake.

And how Darren Powell escaped without censure after he clearly pushed Pablo Counago over in front of the official after the ball had gone, only Taylor will know.

The referee did win brownie points for allowing water breaks midway through each half, although the fans in the North Stand, sitting comfortable in the shade swilling soft drinks, slow hand-clapped.

Royle said: The referee showed initiative; I wonder if it will catch on?"

Palace boss Iain Dowie welcomed the move for this game but would not like to see it happen in the regular league season.

He added: "The game needs an ebb and flow, that is what makes football great. Teams like Ipswich this season will get 28,000 supporters and they want to see passionate free-flowing games."

Palace are later into their pre-season training as the Premiership kicks off a week later than the Championship and they used seven substitutes in a tame second half, although Dowie felt they could have earned a draw.

He said: "I was disappointed with both goals we conceded but felt we had enough chances to finish on level terms.

"We were a bit leggy but Ipswich are a week closer to the season so I was pleased overall."

Royle fears that the Eagles will go straight back down but believes Jim Magilton's former Northern Ireland Iain Dowie, has instilled a lot of good qualities in the London side.

He said: "They will rely heavily on their running power and fitness and it might see them through.

"No matter who went up they were always going to be the three favourites to come down as two usually do.

"They will hope to buck the trend and have a great spirit about them. They came on together as a team and that could hold them in good stead."

Ipswich Town: Davis, Diallo (Wilnis, 46) Richards, Naylor, De Vos, Westlake, Magilton (Miller, 46) Bent (Murray, 78) Counago (Kuqi, 59) Bowditch (Barron, 72) Horlock. Subs not used: Price.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Boyce (Butterfield, 46) Leigertwood (Borrowdale, 46) Rihilahti (Soares, 76) Powell (Hudson, 46) Popovic (Togwell, 78) Routledge, Johnson, Freedman, Hughes (Dolan, 82) Derry (Black, 46) Not used: Berthelin.

Referee: Paul Taylor (Herts) Attendance: 5,282.

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