Home, sweet home for Ipswich

IF only it was like this away from home.Ipswich pretty much cruised to their 12th home victory in a row as they showed how well they can play.After going ahead to a fluke of a first half goal from Jon Walters the Blues stepped up the pace as Southampton went backwards in the second period.

By Derek Davis

IF only it was like this away from home.

Ipswich pretty much cruised to their 12th home victory in a row as they showed how well they can play.

After going ahead to a fluke of a first half goal from Jon Walters the Blues stepped up the pace as Southampton went backwards in the second period.

Pablo Counago made sure of the win with a headed goal and there were no late dramatics for the Blues to cope with.

Town weren't allowed much space to get things going in the middle of the park in the early stages.

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Three times in quick success Owen Garvan was shrugged off the ball and when he did have a bit of room he shot well wide.

But it was a ball won by Garvan deep in his own half that provided Town with a terrific opening. Clarke played it forward for Counago, who got past Skacel to get in a low cross but the Spaniard's low cross was cleared by Davies before Lee could get to it.Town's opener came from a freak goal.

Counago won a free kick taken short by Miller although Clarke didn't look ready so his shot was poor and caught everyone out. Not least Jon Walters. It hit him, and deflected past the wrong-footed Kelvin Davis.

It was a goal Town barely deserved after failing to show much else in the half apart from when there was some neat skill from Billy Clarke who teed up Counago who was not far over with a 25-yard drive.

Even with all their problems - Burley had seven senior players missing through injury and had to say goodbye to loanee Christian Dailly because Southampton could not afford to pay West Ham the third month of his loan deal - the Saints played bright, attacking football.

Saints showed their slickness on the break when Skacel released Surnam and his through ball for John was a tad too long, allowing Alexander to clear.

Similarly Bradley Wright-Phillips was slipped in by Adam Hammill but dragged his shot across goal and wide.

Burley's growing disillusionment at what is happening at St Mary's could make him a potential candidate for the vacant Scotland manager's job.

He obviously inspired his side at half-time and they came close to equalising seconds after the break.

Full back Phillip Ifil put in a good cross and it was flicked on by Wright-Phillips to Stern John, whose header to goal was brilliantly tipped over by Alexander.

On-loan Liverpool winger Hammill thought he had found a way past Alexander and at the other end Town claimed a penalty when a clever piece of skill from Counago seemed to have put Walters clear but he was denied by a brilliant tackle from Ifil. The linesman agreed with the Ipswich crowd's cry for a spot-kick and flagged frantically but referee Grant Hegley rightly overruled his assistant and Hegley showed more common sense officiating, despite the baying of the crowd, when he issued a long and stern warning instead of waving cards to Counago and Euell, who had been niggling at each other before yet another flare up.

Garvan found his shooting boots and was twice deflected away for a corner.

Counago was denied by a top-class save from Davis when he was wide open from eight-yards as Town upped the tempo in the second half.

Walters missed from an almost identical position from where he scored against Bristol City as Town got well on top.

Counago topped his own fine individual performance with a powerfully-headed goal from Gavin Williams, whose free kick was his first touch after replacing Garvan.

It was not vintage Ipswich and they were fortunate that Southampton deteriorated as badly as they did.

But if the Blues can scrape some wins away, even if they are not playing well, then they can do even better than they are at present - and fourth from top is not bad.

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