Ipswich Town draw adds to the pressure

IPSWICH Town extended their unbeaten home run to ten games against Middlesbrough in the Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

Elvin King

Ipswich Town draw adds to the pressure

Ipswich Town 1 Middlesbrough 1

IPSWICH Town extended their unbeaten home run to ten games against Middlesbrough in the Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

But they failed to grab the three points they so badly needed, adding to the pressure manager Roy Keane and his men are currently under.

With club owner Marcus Evans looking non Daryl Murphy enjoyed a perfect start to his Town career with a goal after 23 seconds, and he was fed by fellow debut-maker David Healy.

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It was a wonderful start by the new boys and everything in the garden looked rosy.

But it slowly and surely it went downhill for the Blues after that and on a rutted pitch they were often second best and only on occasions did they show the type of form they need to move up the table.

With four away games now following, Town badly needed three points. But when David Wheater headed an equaliser in the 62nd minute it knocked the confidence of the home team and at the final whistle a draw was about fair with neither side having a day to remember.

Town manager Keane made four changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Preston last weekend. New signings D Murphy and Healy made their debuts up front after joining on loan from Sunderland for the remainder of the season.

Murphy wore the number 21 shirt and Healy number 20.

D Wright replaced Balkestein at left back while there was a surprise recall after a hamstring tear for skipper Walters on the right of midfield after the skipper had been ruled out by Keane on Thursday.

Peters and Stead dropped to the bench with Priskin having left on Monday to join QPR on loan. There was also a surprise substitute berth for keeper B Murphy, who was also written off for this game by Keane. The keeper damaged ankle ligaments warming up prior to the draw at Leicester on January 10, but he came through today's build-up okay!

New 'Boro signing McDonald did not feature on the visiting team sheet. The striker did not travel because of a reaction to his hernia operation. The visitors named six defenders with Naughton, Miller and McManus making their debuts.

Yet again Ipswich had the benefit of an ultra quick lead. Walters' pass to Healy on the right gave the newcomer time to cross, and when this was deflected it went into the path of Murphy. He got ahead of Wheater to turn the ball into the empty net from six yards with Coyne having committed himself to come and try and get the cross.

The goal was timed at 23 seconds and with his first significant touch Murphy had reached half the goal output of Priskin this season. It was Murphy's first senior goal for two years.

Walters was getting space to play down the right and he let fly in the 11th minute with a 20 yard effort that a diving Coyne held to his chest.

Leadbitter had to dive in smartly to deflect an O'Neil effort wide as Middlesbrough showed for the first time in the 21st minute. Soon after the resultant corner the visitors conceded their first foul - a hand ball.

Tuesday's FA Youth Cup game that was played in heavy rain had left the playing surface bobbly with players having to watch the bounce carefully and making precise football difficult.

A good turn and shot by Murphy in the 29th minute brought applause with the new additions bringing purpose and shape to the Town side. Murphy's volley ended in the grateful arms of Coyne.

The busy Killen saw his bicycle kick saved by Lee-Barrett after a right wing cross in the 32nd minute with the visitors now knocking the ball about enterprisingly in the afternoon sunshine.

Wheater went close to heading into his own goal from a dipping Healy four minutes later.

In the 44th minute Ipswich went close to a second goal when McAuley headed Leadbitter's corner goalwards and the ball struck Healy standing just in front of the goal line.

It was all Middlesbrough at the start of the second half with McManus planting an angled effort on to the top of the goal with Lee-Barrett scrambling back across his line.

At the other end the impressive Murphy saw his 54th minute overhead effort pushed away by the keeper as it ran across a muddy six yard box.

Two minutes later, McAuley's close range header from a Leadbitter free-kick went well wide when perhaps the defender should have done better.

In the 61st minute, Lee-Barrett had to hurry across his goal line to finger tip behind a shot by Killen. But from the corner, the visitors equalised - and it was no great surprise.

Wheater climbed above McAuley to head down and into the net. It was all too simple and Hoyte almost made it two shortly afterwards with Lee-Barrett getting down well to save.

Town were now on the back foot and in the 65th minute Delaney cleared off the line following a shot from Miller after a right-wing cross.

Ipswich picked up after that, but with no assurance that a vital winning goal would come. Garvan replaced D Wright with Colback ending the game at left back.

With seven minutes remaining a nervous Town defend almost conceded with Le-Barrett saving at the second attempt after a Miller cross. The ball ran loose just ahead of the goal line before the keeper grabbed it.

Ipswich staged a late rally, but Coyne was never troubled.


Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, D Wright (Garvan 78); Walters, Leadbitter, Norris, Colback; D Murphy (Stead 84), Healy (Counago 62). Substitutes: B Murphy, Edwards, Balkestein, Peters.

Middlesbrough: Coyne; Naughton, Wheater, McManus, Grounds; Flood, Hoyte, O'Neil, Taylor (Franks 50); Miller; Killen (Lita 80). Substitutes: Steele, Walker, Bennett, McMahon, Williams.

Referee: Mr K Hill (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 21,243.

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