10 season-defining twists of fate

THE line between success and failure is a thin one. Ipswich Town correspondent CARL MARSTON highlights 10 pivotal moments that have shaped Town's so-far disappointing season

Carl Marston

THE line between success and failure is a thin one. Ipswich Town correspondent CARL MARSTON highlights 10 pivotal moments that have shaped Town's so-far disappointing season

LOOKING back is not the best way of moving forward, but Ipswich Town fans can be excused for affording the odd glance back through this season's 14 results.

No wins, eight draws and six defeats amounts to just eight points from a possible 42. But it could, and should, have been so much better.

There have been so many injury-time goals conceded, gilt-edged chances missed, and other tales of woe, crammed between the opening day trip to Coventry City and last weekend's long trek to Plymouth.

Of course the odd late goal conceded is always likely to happen, as are the missed opportunities. But I estimate that Town have let 16 points slip through their fingertips this season. That would have meant a projected tally of 24 points, rather than eight, which would have seen them sitting pretty in the play-off zone!

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Here are “10 of the best.”

1 The what-might-have-beens began very early on, after just 10 minutes of the opening day 2-1 defeat at Coventry. Gareth McAuley's missed header, from Keiran Westwood's long ball, set the tone for the first third of the season. Keeper Richard Wright was left stranded as Clinton Morrison slotted home. That put Town on the back foot, and they have been there ever since. (one point dropped).

2 The second turning point, which also occurred during the first game at Coventry, is less easy to quantify in terms of points lost. David Norris suffering knee ligament damage, just before the hour mark, has meant that Town have missed his presence in central midfield ever since. Keane has had to turn to the likes of the inexperienced duo of Jack Colback and Liam Trotter instead.

3 The failure to beat 10-man Preston North End. Town were handed a golden opportunity to record a first win, when defender Callum Davidson was sent off for deliberate handball just before half-time. Jon Walters swept home the equaliser, when netting the rebound from his ensuing penalty, but Town could not fashion a winner despite their numerical advantage throughout the second period. (two points dropped).

4 A slip by skipper Alex Bruce enabled Nottingham Forest substitute Robert Earnshaw to steal an equaliser in a 1-1 home draw (two points dropped).

5 The curse of the late goal began at Doncaster Rovers. It was not an injury-time blow, but there were still only six minutes remaining when Town, leading 3-2, were powerless to prevent Quinton Fortune's 25-yard shot from flying into the net. However, the damage had really been done earlier when Rovers were presented with the softest of opening goals. Richard Wright failed to deal with Jason Shackell's cross, with his own defender Damien Delaney appearing to impede him, and striker Waide Fairhurst merely had to poke the loose ball home. (two points dropped).

6 Town were two-up with time running out at Sheffield United, but a comfortable 3-1 lead was whittled away to a 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane. Skipper Chris Morgan bundled home the equaliser in stoppage time, after Richard Wright had been unable to intercept a corner. Earlier, Wright had been at fault when missing his punch, under pressure from Darius Henderson, allowing the Blades striker to sweep home into an empty net (two points dropped).

7 Town went into their first fortnight's break for internationals with that sinking feeling, after again leaking an injury-time goal at Barnsley, this time on 96 minutes. Jonathan Macken's deadly finish would not have accrued, if Town defender Tommy Smith had not been harshly adjudged to have committed a foul, which led to that dubious free-kick. The Tykes therefore celebrated a 2-1 win (one point dropped).

8 Ipswich had the second-half chances to have beaten visiting Swansea, who were rather negative under manager Paulo Sousa. But they had to make do with a 1-1 draw. The best of the opportunities fell to Walters, who steered wide at the far post from Quinn's cross. Young Connor Wickham could also not beat keeper Dorus De Vries on a late one-on-one situation (two points dropped).

9 It was in the 94th minute that Watford striker Nathan “The Duke” Ellington stole the most unlikely of equalisers for the Hornets in another 1-1 home draw. Portman Road can hardly have hosted a more cruel moment! (two points dropped)

10 Alan Quinn could have made a hero of himself at Plymouth last Saturday. Shortly after Jon Stead had grabbed the equaliser, Quinn was set up by his skipper Walters, but his rather casual shot was cleared off the goal-line by defender Darcy Blake. So the search for a first win of the season continues, with game No. 15 against Derby on Saturday (two points dropped).