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Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: A week which suggests Town are heading for mid-table mediocrity

PUBLISHED: 13:01 26 November 2017 | UPDATED: 23:27 26 November 2017

Dominic Iorfa reflects on his missed challenge which allowed Albert Adomah to score Aston Villa's second on Saturday. Photo: Pagepix

Dominic Iorfa reflects on his missed challenge which allowed Albert Adomah to score Aston Villa's second on Saturday. Photo: Pagepix

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It was a week of highs and lows which ultimately suggested Ipswich Town are destined for a mid-table Championship finish at best.

Ipswich Town fans at Villa Park. Photo: Pagepix Ipswich Town fans at Villa Park. Photo: Pagepix

The Blues are more than halfway through their so-called acid test of five tough fixtures in 15 gruelling days.

First, they snatched a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Hull City. The positive – yet more comeback spirit shown. The negative – a sense of an opportunity missed given the tame Tigers were wounded early on.

OPINION: Karl Fuller – ‘The air of predictability is evident’

Then the boot was on the other foot as Town conceded a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 midweek draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road. It had been an impressive performance against a high-flying side, but profligacy and late naïvety saw two points dropped.

The fit-again Teddy Bishop slides into a challenge on Alan Hutton at Villa Park. Picture: Pagepix The fit-again Teddy Bishop slides into a challenge on Alan Hutton at Villa Park. Picture: Pagepix

REACTION: McCarthy on ‘appalling’ defending, refereeing inconsistency and Bishop’s return

There could be no arguments following a 2-0 defeat at in-form Aston Villa on Saturday. Town gifted the hosts both goals in what is becoming a worrying recurring theme.

Were they utterly outplayed? No. It’s no coincidence that they keep coming out the wrong side of these fine margins affairs with the division’s leading sides though.

OPINION: Sears’ struggle for form continues

Emyr Huws has a flashpoint with Alan Hutton during the second half at Villa Park. Picture: Pagepix Emyr Huws has a flashpoint with Alan Hutton during the second half at Villa Park. Picture: Pagepix

Every single one of Town’s 26 points have been claimed against teams currently in the bottom half.

Mick McCarthy’s men have now claimed 14 points from their last 14 games (relegation form).

And they are yet to play four top-half sides, including potential runaway leaders Wolves.

Winning that long-awaited game-in-hand at Derby tomorrow night would close the gap to the play-off places to three, but defeat against Tom Lawrence, David Nugent and co would see it widen to nine.

OPINION: Six observations from Town’s defeat at Villa

The iPro Stadium may have been a happy hunting ground for Town in recent years (unbeaten in nine), but the Rams recorded an eye-catching 3-0 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday to make it six wins from eight.

Town punched above their weight in the early years under McCarthy’s management, underachieved in finishing 16th and are now realistically performing to the level of their budget.

REACTION: Knudsen – ‘We were not good enough’

At least it’s been more entertaining this season and should continue to be with creative midfield men Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop back from injury.

There’s enough firepower and togetherness to beat the strugglers, but too many technical and defensive limitations to mix it at the top.

Too good to go down, not good enough to go up and almost certainly set for a 17th successive season in the second-tier. That’s just where we’re at.

RATING: Andy Warren gives his player grades and so can you

How do we break such a state of inertia? That’s a discussion for owner Marcus Evans and soon to be out-of-contract McCarthy to have in the new year. Oh to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

A woman in her 40s died after a serious crash on the A12 near Copdock yesterday afternoon.

Green Light Trust Martlesham project helps people who have ‘stalled’ in life - and helps nature too.

Volunteer lifesavers rescued a stranded yacht off the Essex coast this afternoon.

Police investigating a series of power tool thefts from vans and properties in Suffolk have recovered more than 120 items.

The East of England Ambulance Service answered 3,200 calls per day over the winter period, new data shows.

The sunshine, blue skies and record breaking temperatures of recent days are set to come to a thundery end - with heavy rain and lightning expected across the region this weekend.

In this week’s iWitness challenge we asked our photographers to show us what ‘local’ meant to them by capturing the parts of Suffolk they see every day.

A broken down train has prevented the minister responsible for the country’s transport system from visiting the Great Yarmouth area today.

An Ipswich man who gives his time to widen opportunities for children from deprived backgrounds has been recognised by the Queen.

Commuters are facing a second day of disruption on the region’s main rail line after two separate faults were reported – with problems expected until the end of the day.

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