Counago strikes late, late Town winner

IPSWICH Town made it three successive home wins when they beat Coventry City in dramatic fashion in the Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

Elvin King

Counago strikes late, late Town winner

Ipswich Town 3 Coventry City 2

IPSWICH Town made it three successive home wins when they beat Coventry City in dramatic fashion in the Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

Pablo Counago came off the bench to net in the 95th minute - seconds after Richard Wood looked to have broken Town's hearts with a stoppage time equaliser.

Town deserved their win with three outstanding goals after going behind early to stretch their current run to one defeat in 15 games.

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Clinton Morrison put the visitors in front in the third minute with a spectacular shot from outside the penalty area with Town equalising in the 42nd minute when Crystal Palace loanee Stern John scored his first goal for the Blues and his first of the season.

Jack Colback put Town in front in the 52nd minute.

Town manager Keane staged his usual selection surprises when he made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Leicester City last Sunday. Peters was named at left back with Balkestein dropped to the bench where he was joined by another regular defender D Wright.

Rosenior came in to take the place of Bruce at right back with Bruce having taken a knock at the Walkers Stadium but appearing to be okay yesterday. The other change saw loanee John come in up front to partner skipper Walters and take the place of Wickham. Norris was making his 50th league Town appearance.

Back in favour, and on the bench, were Counago and Martin, while rookie keeper McLoughlin was again in the squad following this week's injury suffered by Murphy.

Former Norwich midfielder Clingan - the man that makes Coventry tick - had recovered from a blow on the head in Tuesday's 2-1 FA Cup replay defeat to Portsmouth but striker Best was named as one of the substitutes.

Deegan, who joined Coventry from Bohemians, the club Town signed keeper Murphy from, came into midfield for his first start ahead of Gunnarsson. Deegan was close to a move to Portman Road in the summer.

It was raining hard at kick-off and had been for most of the morning, but the pitch - covered against the elements all week - looked in good condition with snow piled in places around the perimeter. Coventry had won four of their previous five league games, and pipped Town 2-1 at the Ricoh Arena in the opening game of the season.

Morrison must enjoy playing against Ipswich having a good scoring record against them and having found the net against them last August. In the third minute he played a one-two with Eastwood just inside the Town half and ran on with Delaney in pursuit to let fly with his left foot from 20 yards. The ball arrowed its way out of the reach of a diving Lee-Barrett to enter the net off the far post.

It was a magnificent finish if not wonderful defending by the Blues, who now had a test of character on their hands. They won a corner in the seventh minute and Delaney should have done better with a free shot in front of goal than give Westwood some low handling practice.

In the 13th minute, Town went close to an equaliser when Rosenior burst in from the right and his angled shot went off Norris to miss the near post by a whisker.

It was now mainly the Blues as rain continued to pelt down in torrents, but they were struggling to get out of first gear despite the promptings of Leadbitter in midfield.

Balls were being played into the box, but more in hope than anger with Town showing similar lack of form to when they were a rabble in the early weeks of the campaign.

In the 42nd minute Town equalised with a fine goal. Coventry were involved in a multi-pass spell near the half-way line, but when Ipswich gained possession they wasted no time in making it count. Norris swung a sweet ball to the right where an unmarked Rosenior made strides and then curled in a cross that John headed smartly down and low into the net from 12 yards.

It was John's first Town goal, and sent the home side in at the interval in good spirits.

Great skills by Leadbitter in the 50th minute help set up Garvan for a 20-yard low shot that Westwood saved diving to his right - with Ipswich now being cheered on by the Sir Bobby Robson Stand fans who were now in good voice.

And the home supporters were rewarded two minutes later when Colback put Ipswich in front. Garvan played a superb ball down the right that released Walters. From a low cross into the goalmouth, Leadbitter flicked the ball on neatly for Colback to finish with a low right foot finish as the visiting defence found themselves all over the place. It was Colback's fourth goal of the season.

Coventry took the game back to Town and it needed two fine Lee-Barrett to keep Town ahead. He stretched to tip over a 20 yard effort in the 63rd minute. Two minutes later he somehow managed to block a close range Morrison shot when the striker was free six yards out.

In-between, Wood saw his far post header scrambled off the line by the home keeper with Ipswich fortunate to still be ahead.

Town never seriously looked like adding to their tally in a rather nervous final part of the game until the 89th minute when Westwood saved well from Wickham, and before the ball was cleared Counago went round two defenders and the keeper only to see his shot stopped on the line by Wood.

Coventry won their first corner in the first of four minutes of stoppage time. Two minutes later Wood headed in an equaliser at the far post, and Town players hung their heads in despair.

But straight from the re-start, Counago played a one-two with Walters to go clear and lift the ball neatly over the head of Westwood for a dramatic winner.

- Full match report and reaction in Monday's EADT and Evening Star.

Teams:

Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, Peters; Garvan (sub Martin 90 mins), Leadbitter, Norris (Wickham), Colback; John (Counago 64), Walters. Substitutes: McLoughlin, D Wright, Edwards, Balkestein.

Coventry City: Westwood; S Wright (Gunnarsson 81), McPake, Wood, Cranie; Bell, Clingan, Deegan (Baker 71), McIndoe; Morrison, Eastwood (Best 68). Substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Hall, Madine, Barnett.

Referee: Mr M Oliver (Northumberland)

Attendance: 20,135.

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