Follow that - Matt

DEFIANT Matt Richards today vowed to retain his place in the Ipswich limelight.Richards bounced back to centre stage in last night's 3-3 draw at Derby County.

By Elvin King

DEFIANT Matt Richards today vowed to retain his place in the Ipswich limelight.

Richards bounced back to centre stage in last night's 3-3 draw at Derby County.

The 20-year-old was in danger of being written off when he failed to start seven consecutive games in September and early October. He was not even substitute for four of those games.

But the plucky product of the Ipswich Academy showed that he still has a part to play in what he is confident will be an upsurge in fortunes by scoring a late equaliser in an exciting Championship clash at Pride Park.

If Ipswich can take a cue from Richards they can still make a success of this season after looking like no-hopers just two matches ago.

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“I certainly hope so,” said Richards. “We are making chances again and I can't see that we should not now start moving up the table.”

The England Under-21 international - the youngest player to play for Ipswich in European competition - added: “We are getting better and the our displays at Brighton on Saturday in the 1-1 draw and last night were much improved on the 1-0 home loss against Watford on October 22.”

Richards was taken off after 31 minutes against Brighton to allow skipper Jim Magilton to come on and take hold of the midfield.

“It was a relief to be playing from the start last night,” he said. “I knew Saturday's decision was for tactical reasons and Jim did well, but it was still disappointing for me.”

Richards, with more than one hundred Town appearances behind him already, came up trumps on two counts last night.

Not only did he head a superb goal to add to other fine efforts supplied by Richard Naylor and Magilton, he also kept Derby danger man Inigo Idiakez quiet.

“It was the first man-marking job I have been given,” revealed Richards. “I followed him all over the park and stuck to my task.

“I thought it worked well, although I had no control over Idiakez's dead-ball kicks.”

And Richards made a goal promise after putting his name on the score sheet for the first time this campaign.

He said: “I scored one goal in 2003/04 and one last season. Now that I may play more in midfield I am not going to make it a hat-trick of one-goal wonders. I want to score more.

“When Darren Currie shaped to cross I thought he would aim for Sam Parkin on the back post.

“But he picked me out and I don't think my marker was expecting it. I nipped ahead and the header was directed just where I wanted it to go.

“It was disappointing to concede three goals, and we must aim to be tighter at the back on Saturday at home to Plymouth.

“But it could easily have been 5-3 to us with Sam Parkin definitely fouled as a corner came over late on when the referee gave Derby a free-kick. I could see it clearly.

“And when Sam put the ball in the net just before the third Derby goal, it was by no means certain that he was offside.”

On-loan striker Dexter Blackstock struck with two quality finishers and his striker partner Marcus Tudgay scored the other goal as the Rams twice went into the lead in an absorbing contest.

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