Festive cheer continues for Blues

Ipswich Town 4 Millwall 1: IPSWICH Town continued their Royle revival with another festive treat for their fans. The Blues clinched a thrilling 4-1 win over Millwall at Portman Road to lift them into the top half of the table.

Ipswich Town 4 Millwall 1

IPSWICH Town continued their Royle revival with another festive treat for their fans. The Blues clinched a thrilling 4-1 win over Millwall at Portman Road to lift them into the top half of the table.

Even Joe Royle's least enthusiastic followers must now be considering that the prospect of promotion back to the Premiership is back on after another vital three points for the Blues.

There were few chances in the first half with Jim Magilton coming closest to opening the scoring when Pablo Counago found space for a shot which was blocked by the legs of Tony Warner. The rebound fell to Magilton but his clever effort clipped the outside of the far post.

Stuart Nethercott nearly gave Millwall the lead in the closing stages of the half when Ipswich failed to clear a corner and Nethercott met a far post cross to head just past the post but it remained goalless at the break.

Ipswich started the second half with some good early pressure and after 57 minutes they took the lead. Substitute Darren Ambrose swung over a dangerous corner which Paul Ifill could only clear as far as Tommy Miller and he lashed a shot into the net.

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But Millwall hit back just seven minutes later when the Town defence was caught sleeping and Neil Harris turned his man cleverly and found Steven Reid who fired the Lions back level.

It was make or break time for the Blues but Town showed their renewed confidence and defiance to surge back.

On 75 minutes Jermaine Wright took advantage of poor Millwall defending and as space opened up ahead of him he crashed home a thunderbolt of a shot into the net to restore Town's lead.

The hard-working Jamie Clapham then set up Marcus Bent with a low cross with 11 minutes remaining and Bent calmly stroked the ball into the bottom corner to seal the points for Ipswich.

There was still time for Ipswich to make it four when a dazzling run by Ambrose proved too much for the Millwall defence and when he was hauled down in the area Miller stepped up to convert the penalty and ensure a great start to 2003 for the Town.

A superb return of results over Christmas has lifted Town into the top half of the table and leaves them just five points adrift of the play-off places.

Ipswich have scored 11 goals in their last three home matches and if they can maintain that scoring record while shoring up a still suspect defence Joe Royle may yet stick to his new year's resolution of getting Ipswich promoted.

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