Town win seven-goal thriller

TALK about dramatic.Two goals down within 11 minutes, Ipswich fought back to go in level at half time thanks to a Richard Naylor brace.

TALK about dramatic.

Two goals down within 11 minutes, Ipswich fought back to go in level at half time thanks to a Richard Naylor brace, writes Derek Davis.

Ipswich thought they had won the game when Pablo Counago scored 12 minutes from time but hopes looked dashed when they conceded a penalty three minutes from time.

But up popped Shefki Kuqi to score virtually from the restart to smash all sorts of records.

It was the first time in nine attempts Town have won at Selhurst Park. It was their first win away from home on a Tuesday night since they beat Tranmere in March 1997.

But more importantly it was their fifth straight victory and their eighth in nine games to keep them firmly on track for promotion.

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The Blues showed tremendous determination to fight back even when they looked as if they had blown it after being given a roasting for 20 minutes

Town had been rocked by lively Palace who went two goals up in 11 minutes through Andy Johnson and Dougie Freedman after terrible lapses in defence.

But they somehow clawed their way back, with both goals coming from defender Richard Naylor, who showed he has lost none of his goal-scoring instincts.

But it was not a convincing first- half showing by Ipswich, who looked ragged at times and seemed unsure how to cope with Palace's three-pronged attack.

They at least settled the game down in the second half pushing Palace back for the most part and getting their own passing play going.

Skipper Jim Magilton passed a late fitness test on a swollen and bruised calf and was always in the thick of things as he cajoled and bullied his side back into the game.

But Chris Bart-Williams was too often chasing shadows and gave the ball away too easily and too cheapily too often.

Georges Santos in the centre of defence looked to be struggling at times and did not impose in his usual manner as the whole defence found it difficult to contain Andy Johnson in particular.

Ian Westlake took the place of hamstrung Alan Mahon, whose scan revealed a small tear, which will rule him out for a month.

Mahon's attacking flair was missed and as hard as Westlake tried he struggled to make the same sort of impact until late in the second half when he delivered a superb cross for Counago's goal, and he also forced a good save from the keeper.

Palace's exciting prospect Wayne Routledge took advantage and one moment in the second half, when he beat Westlake and Richards, summed up the Town teenagers' frailties.

Palace brought back Tony Popovic after an Achilles injury while Hayden Mullins dropped out from the team which earned a draw against Rotherham on Saturday.

Johnson exploited a mistake at the back and got past Naylor and hit a powerful lob shot over the advancing Davis for the opening goal after just five minutes. Ten minutes later Town were two-down when Shipperley, despite a Santos challenge, managed to squeeze a pass into Freedman, who scuffed his shot as he turned but it beat Davis from 10 yards.

The Blues, or in this case the all-whites, hit back in the 25th minute when a Magilton shot from 14 yards deflected for a corner which he took himself.

Naylor roared up from the back to flick on the flag kick for the first of his double.

He equalised for Town when a Magilton free kick was headed down by Kuqi. Wright hit a low shot across goal which came back off the far post and Naylor showed he still has deadly instincts, especially from six yards, and shinned it in.

Town's third came down the left with Westlake squirming to find space near the dead ball line before delivering a powerful cross which the bearded Counago finished emphatically for his seventh goal of the season.

But then, with no apparent danger, substitute Tommy Miller took out Routledge and Freedman belted in his second from the spot.

Kuqi showed his strength and finishing prowess to latch onto a Miller long ball to smash in his third since joining on loan.

Town survived good first-half efforts by Black, who hit over, and Routledge, whose shot was blocked by Santos.

Davis made a brilliant one-handed save from Freedman after Richards failed to head clear and got down well to save from a low Shipperley shot

Ipswich had good opportunities of their own even before drawing level.

Only a back-bending tip-over save by Berthelin denied Wright, who hit an exquisite chip-shot from 25 yards.

Kuqi was denied after getting past the keeper but Popovic managed a last-gasp clearance. He hit a dipping shot from 25 yards but Berthelin was barely troubled.

But when Counago provided his own special ole it didn't look as if it mattered until that last reckless act and then the last dramatic twist.

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