Blues suffer system failure

IPSWICH were today sitting at the wrong end of the First Division table after going down to a second consecutive 1-0 away defeat to a well-organised Wigan side.

By Nick Richards

IPSWICH were today sitting at the wrong end of the First Division table after going down to a second consecutive 1-0 away defeat to a well-organised Wigan side.

It was a game Town struggled to grasp and the Latics fully deserved to record their first ever home league win in the First Division.

Town boss Joe Royle must today be wondering quite what formation to play in the now crucial game on Saturday against West Ham. Defeat in that game would leave Town with just two points from a possible 15.

In contrast, Wigan boss Paul Jewell would have been delighted with the formidable attacking display his spirited side showed the whole 90 minutes.

Town started the game with three at the back – Makin, Naylor and Diallo, with Richards and Wilnis occupying wing back roles – the first time Joe Royle has chosen that system this season.

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While Wilnis and Richards found plenty of space early on they were often isolated on the flanks and the midfield trio of Wright, Miller and Magilton were over run by the industrious Bullard and Jarrett.

It was clear from as early as the fifth minutes that pacey striker Nathan Ellington would be a thorn in Town's side when he forced Richards into a desperate lunge to keep out an early Wigan goal.

It was a measure of the striker's successful game that when he went off 14 minutes from time he was given a standing ovation by the home crowd.

While on the pitch, Ellington threatened constantly and Town keeper Kelvin Davis needed to be at his best to keep him out for much of the first half, but his fine play finally earned him the only goal after 57 minutes.

Jarrett, Bullard, Liddell and Kennedy totally out-played the Town midfield early on and Bullard twice came close to putting Wigan one up after 14 minutes when Davis had to be at his best to twice thwart the intelligent midfielder.

Wigan were on top for most of the first period – Ellington again went close and a last-gasp Wilnis clearance kept the scores level. It was a measure of Wigan superiority that Town didn't win their first corner until the 29th minute.

Going into the break manager Joe Royle moved down from the stands to the touchline, but Town failed to lift their game in the second half.

Pablo Counago came on at the break to replace the ineffective Darren Bent but at the other end it was only a matter of time before the Town defence was breached. Although Makin, Diallo and Naylor marshalled the back well the link-up play between defence, midfield and attack was non existent at times – the body language of Magilton and Marcus Bent said it all long before Ellington's winning goal.

However, the goal spurred Town into action. Makin controversially won the ball on the left and with a Wigan player down and home fans baying for a foul he found Counago. The young Spaniard rounded the keeper who clipped the striker as he went past him, but Counago stayed on his feet. However, his shot towards goal was kept out by a lunging Wigan boot.

Dean Bowditch was introduced for the last 27 minutes, but didn't have the same impact coming on as in previous games.

In the final quarter, when Ipswich desperately needed to find a extra gear they were pinned back by the dynamic athletic side.

Town could learn a lot from Wigan's game, particularly their ability to switch play and break quickly with seamless effect. They constantly played killer through-balls and in Jimmy Bullard had a player who ran the show all night.

It was game that only a Town fan wearing the most blue tinted of glasses would have admitted their team deserved a point, and Ipswich had to call upon keeper Davis late on to keep the score at 1-0 when he saved from Burchill.

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