'Worst display of season'

HERO keeper Neil Alexander came away from his first big derby match with mixed feelings.Alexander put in yet another man of the match performance but failed to help his side find their first away win of the season.

By Derek Davis

HERO keeper Neil Alexander came away from his first big derby match with mixed feelings.

Alexander put in yet another man of the match performance but failed to help his side find their first away win of the season.

After making a string of excellent saves, the Scotland keeper was understandably proud with his own display but less happy with the all-round team performance.

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He said: “I was delighted with my performance but very disappointed with the result.

“We've got to learn to kill teams off and the two goals we conceded were sloppy.

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“Their second gave us a kick up the back side, but it's another game gone where we haven't won away.

“I actually thought it was our worst performance of the season.

“We scored two very good goals to get in a strong position, but then let our good work go to waste in the second half.”

Despite a couple of strong claims from Norwich, Alexander didn't have a penalty to save, but did deny Dion Dublin, John Hartson and Jamie Cureton, among others.

He said: “On a personal note, it's always nice to play well and contribute by making a few saves to keep your side in the game.

“I'd probably say it was my best performance so far for Ipswich.

“I've been getting better and better and I feel very settled here now, sharp and confident.

“But in terms of this result, the shine was taken off it by the way we played in the second half, and the nature of the goals we conceded. We just switched off defensively.”

Alexander felt John Hartson's half-time introduction as a substitute for City totally changed the game. He said: “Hartson is so difficult to play against and he bullied us a bit, which is always disappointing.”

Boss Jim Magilton praised keeper Alexander for saving Ipswich Town at crucial times in the local derby.

Magilton said: “Neil kept us in the game with fantastic saves. He has got better and better as the weeks have gone on.

“His confidence has grown. He had to be at his best today and he was.”

Opposite number David Marshall, who Alexander trains with at Scotland, also made some good saves, especially from Owen Garvan and Danny Haynes, at the death.

Marshall said: “When you make saves it is the timing of the saves that is more important.

“I thought about coming for the cross, but decided against it and maybe if the ball goes in you have a look at yourself. But fortunately for me I've just seen it hit the top of the bar and go over.

“I know Neil from the Scotland set-up and I think he was probably man of the match today, he has done great for them. He made two or three right good saves at important times.

“You're trying to get into the Scotland squad but third place in the Scotland squad isn't too important, the most important thing is playing here.”

Marshall had been beaten twice by half-time, but said he had no arguments with Ipswich's second goal just before the break, even though he tried to convince the officials that the ball had gone out of play before being hooked back for Pablo Counago to score from close range.

“I could see the linesman could see me so I was just trying to get a reaction from him,” admitted Marshall. “I think (Martin) Taylor thought it was over, but I didn't. I think it was all right. It was because the linesman was just staring right at me I tried anything to get it called off.”

Marshall's form has been one of the few bright spots of a poor season for City, but the former Celtic keeper admitted City were bemused by their half-time predicament.

“Yes it was a good game, a good game for the neutrals, but obviously it was very disappointing at half-time to go 2-0 down and we did great to get back and eventually get a point and we maybe could have won the game,” he said.

“There were about 20 minutes left when we got the equaliser. Maybe a bit disappointed in the end, we thought we played well enough to win it.”


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