Another Yorkshire heartbreaker for Town

DISBELIEF. That was the overwhelming sensation that gripped all of Ipswich Town's players, and supporters, following another big kick-in-the-teeth at Barnsley on Saturday.

Carl Marston

DISBELIEF. That was the overwhelming sensation that gripped all of Ipswich Town's players, and supporters, following another big kick-in-the-teeth at Barnsley on Saturday.

When you're at the bottom of the table, it's commonplace to think that everything is going against you.

Well, on the basis of Town's experience, there is a grain of truth in that claim.

Roy Keane's men are marooned at the bottom of the Championship table because they are conceding too many goals, starting games too slowly, and failing to make their supremacy count when they are on top.

In certain games, they have been blown away, as at West Brom and Middlesbrough, and of course at home to Newcastle. They deserved nothing from those games, and they got nothing.

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But they are not the fixtures under scrutiny. Town have just completed a mini-tour of Yorkshire, during which they have outshone a trio of hosts in their own backyard, and yet returned to Suffolk with a meagre two points.

How can that be? Town were 3-2 up at Doncaster, with just six minutes to go, and they were 3-1 ahead at Sheffield United with only 12 minutes remaining. Six points were dangling in front of their very eyes, only for late goals to reduce their reward to a mere two.

Barnsley was sadly a similar tale. A draw, after no wins in the first 10 league games, would not have been the ideal result, but Town would have taken another point. It was no more than they deserved.

Surely history could not repeat itself?

They had already survived one scare in injury-time, with the score at 1-1, when keeper Richard Wright dropped a free-kick from Iain Hume, right at the feet of Stephen Foster. The Tykes skipper, in his over-eagerness, swung wildly at the loose ball and completely missed his kick.

That was a warning, with 92 minutes already on the clock. But Town then conceded another needless free-kick (perhaps an unlucky one) for a foul by Tommy Smith, and this time the visitors' failure to clear the danger resulted in Jon Macken drilling home into the far corner of the net.

Front-runner Macken, who had a loan spell at Ipswich three years ago, wheeled away in delight. It was already the sixth minute of stoppage time, and there was barely time to restart before referee Phil Gibbs blew his final whistle.

Town's players seemed reluctant to leave the pitch, no doubt still trying to comprehend what had happened to them - again!

Just four days earlier, Blades skipper Chris Morgan had poked home an equaliser in the second minute of injury-time at Bramall Lane.

These late horror shows are becoming difficult to take.

Just like at Sheffield on Tuesday night, so Town had conceded an early goal to leave them on the back foot. They were left playing catch-up, just as they will be for the rest of this season.

Livewire striker Hume, fresh from his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win over West Brom in midweek, applied the deadly finishing touch after just eight minutes.

Liam Trotter snapped at his heels but could not stop the former Leicester man from advancing to the edge of the area before tucking home a low shot beyond the reach of Wright.

Ipswich, as was the case at both Doncaster and Sheffield, did not fold despite falling behind, and they were level in first-half injury-time thanks to Liam Rosenior's first goal for the club.

Stand-in skipper Jon Walters, who gave another gutsy display up front, won a free-kick after being pushed by defender Darren Moore. Up stepped man of the match Grant Leadbitter to strike the free-kick cleanly, too cleanly in fact for keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, who simply flapped at the ball.

It was Rosenior who reacted first, lunging forwards to head the loose ball into a gaping net. It was a special moment for the Reading loanee.

Both sides threw caution to the wind (and there was a lot of wind in this corner of Yorkshire on Saturday) during a frantic second half.

Barnsley missed a penalty, but Town squandered several chances themselves. A point apiece would in the end have been acceptable to both camps. That's why football is such a cruel game.

Earlier, Town had just one-half chance before the Tykes took their early lead. Trotter stabbed on from a free-kick and Gareth McAuley's shot on the turn was only smothered at the second attempt by Bialkowski.

Not surprisingly, Hume's clinical strike gave Barnsley an extra spring in their step for the next few minutes, during which Wright saved from Ryan Shotton's low drive.

However, that was Wright's only real save of the first period, as Town gradually forced their hosts back onto the defensive.

Left-back Jaime Peters showed his attacking intent with a well-struck 20-yarder that ballooned only a foot over the bar on 14 minutes, and a swirling free-kick from Leadbitter gave Bialkowski a big headache just five minutes later. The Southampton loanee keeper was deceived by the bounce, and only just managed to punch away with Smith bearing down on him.

Alan Quinn, a bundle of energy, was close to celebrating an equaliser in the 34th minute. Tamas Priskin's cross was too strong for the lurking Walters, but defender Foster inexplicably let the ball go, allowing Quinn a sight of goal. The Irishman's shot cannoned into Foster's back and ricocheted away for a corner.

Walters and Priskin had combined well up front, and a neat one-two had the Barnsley defence over-stretched in the 38th minute. Walters charged onto Priskin's lay-off and then ran half the length of the pitch before returning the compliment with an accurate cross. The Hungarian's downward header was comfortably saved by Bialkowski.

Rosenior's equaliser, in first half stoppage time, should have been the platform for Town to finally chalk up their first win of the season.

But Carlos Edwards sliced a shot horribly wide when well positioned in the 61st minute, and shortly afterwards Trotter also failed to hit the target with just Bialkoswki to beat, lashing his shot over the top from 15 yards out.

The hosts were awarded a penalty in controversial fashion in the 73rd minute. Defender Smith, who was lying on the deck, was adjudged to have tripped Hume inside the box, though the Canadian only appeared to brush Smith's shoulder.

Justice appeared to be done when Hume's powerful penalty bounced back off the post, but then came Macken's last gasp winner.

The journey home from Yorkshire once again felt like a very long funeral procession.

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