Don't judge on bookings

WHILE Ipswich Town are right to get concerned about nearly 50 bookings in just 16 games, the season will be judged by where they finish in the Championship.

By Elvin King

Overview

WHILE Ipswich Town are right to get concerned about nearly 50 bookings in just 16 games, the season will be judged by where they finish in the Championship.

The rights and wrongs of refereeing decisions will always be argued, however, and Mr Kevin Friend from Leicestershire was pretty woeful and far too fussy.


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But Ipswich have a big enough squad to cope with a trickle of suspensions, and opponents know Jim Magilton well enough to appreciate that he is not someone who sends his players out to harm.

And can you recall a season when by November Ipswich had been awarded five penalties and seen opposition players sent off three times? Some things have gone in their favour.

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Plymouth are no mugs - much better than Southend and an understandably out-of-sorts Luton on Sunday - and they stretched an unbeaten run to seven matches.

Town have now gone three unbeaten themselves, and in some ways this backs-to-the-wall point offered more encouragement than when beating a poor side.

Formation

It was the tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation with Ipswich playing in white shirts and black shorts against a team known in Devon as the “best in the west”.

Matt Richards replaced Dan Harding at left-back in the latter stages while Simon Walton and then Alex Bruce played right-back once Fabian Wilnis had been sent off.

Tactics

For the second time in three games Ipswich were unchanged. There was one switch on the bench with Mark Noble available after a one-game suspension and taking the place of Darren Currie.

Ipswich were always looking for the long ball forward so that Alan Lee and Billy Clarke could turn the home defence.

Plymouth had control in midfield for much of the game despite Town working their socks off.

Richards' corner for Sylvain Legwinski's third goal in three games is obviously something

successfully designed on the

training ground.

Roller-coaster effect

At a ground where Jim Magilton played his last Town game six months ago, Ipswich kept on an upward move with so much determination and effort in their play.

Fatigue factor

A 9am departure from Portman Road to catch a

private plane from Luton - Stansted was not available as it closes after midnight for runway work - was not the best preparation within 48 hours of the Luton game.

But it did not appear to be a factor for a Town side that relaxed in a Plymouth town centre hotel from early afternoon.

They left the field triumphant at the finish and with smiles aplenty.

Turning point

The 80th minute could so easily have lost Town a point. Shane Supple saved brilliantly when David Norris went clear, and

within seconds Gary Roberts cleared a thunderbolt from Barry Hayles off the line.

Wilnis can have no real

complaints about his second

booking, but his first was as

dubious as most of the others on the night.

Good and bad

On the positive side, a notable team effort by Town although they were outplayed for periods of the match.

Town fans deserve credit for travelling 310 miles to support their heroes, and Ipswich's defending is becoming much more secure.

On the negative side the number of cards given out in the second half of Ipswich matches is unbelievable.

Not for the first time, just one first half yellow was followed by an avalanche after the break.

And apart from a

fearful lunge by Dan Harding on Norris and a crunching tackle by Paul Wootton on Clarke the game was hard, but fairly contested.

Lessons learned

A consistent selection policy is paying off for Magilton and

there is now much more reason to be optimistic than a few weeks ago.

The manager, his staff and his team are getting it right.

But on last night's evidence they still have some way to go to match the best in the division.

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