Winning send off for skipper Magilton

SIMPLY Magic. Two cracking goals, a clean sheet and a winning send off for skipper Jim Magilton meant it was party time at Portman Road.Perhaps, not in the same league as snatching a play-off place yet again, but a good day overall and it would be churlish to worry too much at this stage about the cracks that were papered over.

By Derek Davis

SIMPLY Magic.

Two cracking goals, a clean sheet and a winning send off for skipper Jim Magilton meant it was party time at Portman Road.

Perhaps, not in the same league as snatching a play-off place yet again, but a good day overall and it would be churlish to worry too much at this stage about the cracks that were papered over.

As a game of football, it meant nothing in the way of promotion or relegation and there were as many bad things as there were good from both sides.

As an occasion, it had enough tear-jerking moments to make The Waltons look morbid.

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It started with Fabian Wilnis picking up the Supporters' Player of the Year award, ironic given the grief he has suffered from fans in the past.

The Dutchman did well in a back four that struggled to contain a lively Derby side before going off before half-time with a rib injury.

He did well enough on the right side of defence, apart from very early on when Michael McIndoe got in a shot but could only watch as the left side was continuously torn open by Tommy Smith cutting in on an unprotected Jay McEveley.

The on-loan Blackburn defender did well in the circumstances and certainly blossomed in the second half when he was given some protection.

But, by using Matt Richards in the first half to sit on County's dangerman Inigo Idiakez, it meant former Norwich defender Marc Edworthy was able to storm forward and feed Smith, who relished all the space he was allowed.

Town took a battering from the Rams and it was only three good saves from Shane Supple, compounded by appalling finishing from makeshift striker Morten Bisgaard and others, that allowed the Blues the luxury of going in at half-time without conceding their 65th Championship goal of the season. Only relegated clubs Brighton and Crewe, along with Luton, have let in more, yet defenders were high in the polls for all the player awards.

It was clear Town needed more balance and manger Joe Royle made changes at half-time, with Jamie Peters going on for Magilton.

Fans were understandably baffled and angered by the decision but all became clearer post-match when Magilton made a lap of honour around the Portman Road pitch.

It was the Irishman that had asked to come off during the break to allow the change to be made, without unsettling Peters and for the good of the team.

Typical of the Irishman, and the rousing ovation he was given on every step of his circuit was well deserved.

Now suited and booted, the midfielder, who will be 37 in a fortnight, was joined by his young sons Adam and Ryan, while the rest of the Town players followed respectfully a few yards behind.

It was a touching gesture from the players, club and fans and one that left Magilton a little emotional.

The mood had been set, however by Peters' arrival, as the young Canadian showed why Town went to such lengths to secure his permit.

His width, enthusiasm and direct running gave Town balance and energy previously lacking.

They were helped by a Forster goal a minute after the restart, carved out by a wonderful one-two between Owen Garvan and Currie.

The young Irishman, potentially a more gifted version of the departing Magilton, laid the ball into Forster's path and he made himself a little space before beating Lee Camp with a wonderful 25-yard shot.

Currie came into the game more and more and the Championship's most prolific crosser, with more than 215, almost provided Forster with a hat-trick.

The former Royal's striker looked to be held back as he was about to get on the end of once delicious ball by Currie but no penalty was given.

Forster turned another header over and hit a shot on the turn wayward. He did stick the ball in the net with a simple tap-in after being set up by Currie but the flag was up for offside.

But three goals in two-and-a-third games is no bad return and you can't help wonder, what if…

Another touching moment came before kick-off when a minute's silence for former Blues' and West Ham manager John Lyall was immaculately observed by both sets of supporters and watched by his son Murray and three grandchildren, who were guests of the club.

Also in the crowd were 30 guests of Derby's caretaker-manager Terry Westley, who snaffled some of his players' complimentary tickets for his Suffolk-based family and friends.

Not bad for a former manager of an SIL side and who will, in all probability, return, for a while anyway, to being the Rams' Academy Director next month.

He could not get Derby their first away win in 13 games, a run going back to last November, or prevent Town from winning at home for the first time in five attempts and ending a losing streak of four straight. But he will have enjoyed his return to the club where he was once a youth coach and there are many mitigating circumstances why County are so poor.

So, all in all, best to ignore the shortcomings of the teams and celebrate those personalities who have touched so many lives in their own way.

Let us hope we are partying at Portman Road this time next season for promotion purposes, rather than to say farewell and thanks to old friends.

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