Ipswich throw away golden opportunity

THE slow ascent of football's equivalent of Everest continues for Ipswich Town after chucking away a golden opportunity to take a massive step towards the Championship summit.

Derek Davis

THE slow ascent of football's equivalent of Everest continues for Ipswich Town after chucking away a golden opportunity to take a massive step towards the Championship summit.

Owen Garvan gave them a lead and the Blues controlled so much of the game they looked as if they had to win by a landslide.

Instead they slipped up and allowed Nick Bailey to salvage a point, and probably his manager's job.

Pablo Counago missed a penalty, but he was not alone in missing gift-wrapped chances with Kevin Lisbie guilty and Jon Stead culpable.

Charlton were pretty woeful until making late changes and finishing strongly as they hung in there and in the end somehow managed to put away there only clear chance of the night and made Town pay for their wastefulness.

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Stead was in for the suspended Norris and he hit a spectacular volley over the bar and also went down in area no penalty, so as no offence was given then he was fortunate not to be booked for diving.

Jon Walters, who has agreed an extra year on his contract which will now run to 2012 and ensure more money on any transfer fee, should he be sold, also shot wide.

Kevin Lisbie, keen to follow up on his goal at Plymouth and score against his old club, dribbled his way into box but was at full stretch when he poked shot wide.

Lisbie was far closer after a quick counter and he surged into the box but cured his shot just wide.

Charlton put together some dangerous attacks, but looked a side devoid of confidence around the box and a low shot from Lloyd Sam was their best first half effort and Richard Wright saved down at his near post.

Blues' legend Matt Holland volleyed over from distance, but the Addicks offered little.

There was some gallows humour from the North Stand when they chanted: “You're getting sacked in the morning,” to Charlton boss Alan Pardew and repeated it even louder when the Addicks went a goal behind.

Garvan whipped in a left-footed cross and it curled in over top of attackers, defenders, everyone, and went in at the keeper's far post.

It was very similar to the effort at Plymouth when he was searching for his hat-trick, but that one was brilliantly saved by Romain Larrieu.

Nicky Weaver was nowhere near this one and Garvan turned towards the bench and punched the air in delight.

The 20-year-old Irishman was not far away with curling shot after a great flowing move forward involving Quinn, Walters and Lisbie, but the effort dipped over the bar.

He had another opportunity after good work from David Wright, but his 18-yard shot lacked direction or zip this time.

No such problem for Veliche Shumulikoski from 30-yards after being set up by Alan Quinn but Weaver pulled off an excellent save to push away for a corner.

That was the highlight for the Macedonian reporter sitting behind me in the press box and commentating excitedly back home by his mobile phone.

When Pablo Counago went on as a 63rd minute substitute for Stead, Town went for the jugular and the Spaniard was slipping in good balls.

But when Kelly Youga handled accidentally while under no real pressure, Counago's spot kick was easy for Weaver to save.

Although still looking the more likely to go on and win Town wobbled and allowed Charlton back in.

Gareth McAuley dealt with an initial attack but the ball was played wide and Hameur Bouazza got a cross in and Bailey got between Naylor and Volz and was able to squeeze the ball in from six yards.

McAuley has come in for a lot of stick, and I have been one of his critics, since his £1.1m signing from Leicester City but, like the team, he has grown in stature.

The Northern Ireland defender has shown signs of late that he is now settled in and that has there has been a correlation between his form and the team in general.

Town's skipper looked assured against Charlton, directing players, sure-footed in dealing with the ball, winning headers and covering well.

It is juts a huge shame the defence leaked that late goal, and the attack could not put away those earlier chances because this was two points thrown away.

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