Comeback time once again for Blues

DERBY COUNTY 2 IPSWICH TOWN 2ANOTHER fantastic comeback. Another example of Town's ne'er-say-die attitude and fantastic character and spirit. Another game of wonderful entertainment and terrific value for money for supporters.

By Derek Davis


ANOTHER fantastic comeback. Another example of Town's ne'er-say-die attitude and fantastic character and spirit. Another game of wonderful entertainment and terrific value for money for supporters.

But, and this is a big but, as exciting as it is to watch Ipswich clawing their way back from a two-goal deficit, and as heartening to hear the almost weekly plaudits coming from opposition managers, they are heading for a fall.

The sort of defensive lapses Town committed at Pride Park, and other grounds up and down the country, can not be permitted to carry on.

Getting away with it against the likes of Derby, Crystal Palace and Gillingham, is one thing, it will be a different kettle of fish against Sheffield United, Cardiff, Nottingham Forest, West Ham and yes Norwich, within the next six weeks.

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The second half showed Town have the measure of Derby who could not kill off their visitors after they went two goals up within the two minutes of time added on at the end of the first half. So the Blues should beat them at home early next month but it may be the only win they get for the remainder of the year if they carry on as they are.

Town had ready-made excuses at Derby, with Richard Naylor suspended and John McGreal sensibly refusing to risk returning from injury before he is ready. Consequently the Town back-line was a Heath Robinson affair.

Fabian Wilnis went in at centre-half alongside Georges Santos, and apart from a mad five minutes, did very well, while Jermaine Wright slotted in as right back.

Wright can do no wrong at the moment and apart from some sterling defensive work got forward to provide the pass for Darren Bent to head in the equaliser.

Tommy Miller had pulled one back from the penalty spot after a great one-two between Ian Westlake and Darren Bent with Pablo Mills then nudging Westlake over in the area for the spot kick.

Many among the fabulous travelling support had been bullish at half-time about Town's comeback as they have done so often in the year since Joe Royle took charge.

But their team should never have got themselves in such a mess.

The first half was untidy and Ipswich could not get a grip of midfield with Miller, Westlake and Magilton, being outnumbered and the wide threat of 16-year-olds Lee Holmes and Tom Huddlestone tested Town.

But it was at set pieces they looked the most vulnerable and Matt Richards denied Derby an earlier lead when he cleared a powerful Michael Johnson header off the line.

After a dip in form Richards is coming strongly once more and the combination of better defensive work and strong attack, linking especially well with Westlake, is paying dividends as some of his crossing at Derby showed.

He did lose the impressive Huddlestone once and only skipper Ian Taylor's failure to get his feet right prevented him from tapping in from four yards.

Santos was dealing with the Danny Dichio threat quite comfortably in the air while Wilnis covered a lot of ground in his new role.

Both looked to be doing quite well until it all fell apart in the last five minutes of the first half.

Spaniard Pablo Counago had already been replaced by Dean Bowditch after pulling a hamstring in the most bizarre fashion when he tried a back heel which went badly wrong.

Wilnis was booked for kicking the ball away after conceding a free kick and was then nut-megged by Lee Morris who pulled the ball back for Dichio who wastefully fired over the bar.

Then the Dutchman gave away a free kick, 28-yards out, central to goal, and on-loan Wigan winger Peter Kennedy hit a Beckhamesque free kick into Davis' top left corner.

From the restart Town lost the ball and gazed mesmerised as Kennedy, back in the left back position, hit a long ball over the lot of them from deep and Dichio outstripped Santos before shooting past Davis.

As is becoming common-place Town came back like dervishes and it was the young trio of Bowditch, Bent and Westlake who got in among the Rams, unsettling them with terrific pace and movement.

One move ended with Kuqi forcing a good save from Lee Grant.

Another between Bent and Westlake earned Town the penalty which Miller converted for his second goal in two games.

Magilton then fed Wright who got past Kennedy before whipping in a terrific far post ball for Bent to beat England Under-21 colleague Pablo Mills in the air and head down past another international team-mate Grant to net his third of the season.

Both teams had chances to win the game, Derby from Huddlestone whose cross-cum-shot deceived Davis but came back off a post and the same player beat the offside trap but failed to beat the Town keeper in a one-on-one situation.

Wilnis made the interception of the day to deny Morris who would have a had a clear run on goal, while Candido Costa and Dichio both went high or wide and Taylor had a header deflected for a corner.

Town best opportunities fell to Kuqi who failed to beat Grant. Substitute Bowditch was surprisingly substituted himself with Alun Armstrong, so shocked at getting the call he struggled to get his boots on, but when he did the transfer-listed striker won some good balls and made his presence felt.

It was a big day for 18-year-old Scott Mitchell who was handed his debut with a couple of minutes of time added on left and made a steady bow.